Don’t know who to vote for on Tuesday? Check out the first ever Heights Herald Voter’s Guide!

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Photo by Adriana Inamagua

If you are 18 or older, you are eligible to vote this midterm election season! Election Day is Tuesday, November 8.

If you are a registered voter in Columbia Heights, see below for the vast majority of races and candidates that will appear on your November 8 ballot. Not sure where your polling place is? Find it here! And here’s a link to information about same-day voter registration in Minnesota.

 

Columbia Heights City Council

John Murzyn

Current city council member John Murzyn is running for re-election with focuses on keeping the city safe, keeping taxes down and community development.

Justice Spriggs – www.justicespriggs.com

Twenty-six-year-old Justice Spriggs is running for political office for the first time in his life, while also pursuing a career in the medical field. Being a young and biracial person, he believes he will “bring a new and unique voice to the City Council.” He has a strong focus on “investing in and improving our roads, sidewalks, and parks” and “ensuring we have affordable housing in Columbia Heights for both the renters and homeowners in the city.” 

Nick Novitsky

City Council member of six years and Council president of two years, Nick Novitsky is running for re-election. Years of service in his current position have given him leadership experience. and he plans to continue to vote for what’s best for the community after listening to the voices of Heights residents.

Rachel James – rachelforheights.com

Rachel James was a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission for two terms and a member of the CH Police Multicultural Advisory Committee for six years. James’s main goal if she is elected is “to increase the livability of Columbia Heights.” She plans to “advocate for affordable, quality housing development [and] vote for sustainability initiatives to increase the health of our city.”

 

Columbia Heights Mayor

Amáda Márquez Simula – www.voteamada.com

Current mayor of Columbia Heights Amáda Márquez Simula is running for re-election with a campaign focused on modernizing public safety and growth of local businesses. Before taking office she had a hand in many organizations in Heights including being an Education Advisory Board member for the Columbia Heights Public Schools district and an Alexandra House Development Committee member.

Cliff Johnson – www.cliffjohnsonformayor.com

Cliff Johnson is Northeast Minneapolis-born, Fridley-raised and the second mayoral candidate in this year’s election. His main goal if elected is “to establish clear and concise guidelines regarding rental properties within the city.”

 

Columbia Heights School Board

Laura Palmer 

“My number one goal is improving communication, seeking opportunities to be more equitable in governance and practice,” Palmer said. “It’s vitally important to continue to dismantle barriers and provide support, to live up to our Mission of All Belong, All Succeed. My vision is that students, staff, families and community are truly seen, heard and involved. I have been on the School Board since 2010. I believe it’s important to learn and grow, so I research topics prior to making decisions. I have been focusing on policy, special education, and Student Voice. I have served on the NE Metro 916 Board for several terms.”

Jessica Medearis – www.jessicamedearis.com

“If elected to the school board, my number one goal will be to advance inclusive student success—ensuring that our schools have what they need to build equitable school communities where all students feel they belong and can thrive academically and socially,” Medearis said. “It is critical to this goal that our public schools are fully-funded, as insufficient funding impacts everything from academic growth, to class size and curricular offerings, to furthering the district’s equity work, to providing crucial mental health services, to hiring and retaining teachers and staff. I’ve served in leadership roles in Parent-Teacher Organizations (I’m currently the president of the PTO at Highland Elementary School) and the Early Childhood Parent Advisory Council. As a licensed attorney, I can bring a unique perspective to the Board in policy development and revision, bridging requirements and compliance with district values, accessibility, and equity goals.” 

Brenna Zeimet – www.brennazeimet.com

“My biggest goal for CHPS [Columbia Heights Public Schools] is equity,” Zeimet said. “It is important to me that all of our students are able to succeed in our schools and I think it is the job of the Board and the administration to make sure that we are addressing any barriers to learning that exist in our systems. I believe our diversity is our strength and I have a strong passion for justice issues. I have an understanding of how systems can work against marginalized people and that knowledge helps me ask good questions and advocate for equity in effective ways.”

Julie Houle – www.houle4schools.com

“Our [district’s] mission is ‘Creating worlds of opportunity. All belong. All succeed.’ I believe we have found a way to provide opportunities and belonging, but now there must be a focus on success,” Houle said. “As our students graduate, they will come into the harsh realities of a global economy and may not be ready to compete. I want to find creative and cost-effective ways to improve our students’ proficiencies so they can succeed. I have a BS in Accounting and I am a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the State of Minnesota. I take more than 40 hours of continuing professional education every year to maintain my CPA license and Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification. My education and professional background makes me uniquely qualified to understand the financial aspect of the district.”

Israel Tobon and Nate Lourey will also appear on the ballot but have no campaign or contact information available.

 

County Commissioner

Mandy Meisner – votemandy.com

Mandy Meisner is Anoka’s County Commissioner. She was born in Seoul, Korea, and her parents later moved to a small town in Cloquet, Minnesota when she was an infant. “I am a collaborator and connector,” Meisner said. She “listens to the goals and challenges of residents, businesses, and nonprofits in Anoka County to serve all of District 7.” 

Joseph Sturdevant

Joseph Sturdevant is from Fridley and also running for County Commissioner. 

 

State Secretary

Kim Crockett – www.kimsos.com

Kim Crockett is a candidate who is running for the secretary position for the state. She was born and raised in Minnesota. She was an attorney, policy advocate and a writer at Minnesota institutions like Center of the American Experiment and Intellectual Takeout. Her goal as secretary of state is to have eligible Minnesota voters to have a right to a free and fair election by protecting their rights.

Steve Simon – stevesimonmn.com

Early in Minnesotan Steve Simon’s life, his family taught him to work hard, look out for others and try to be part of something bigger than himself. One of Simon’s achievements is advocating for a law that allows people to vote from home after his dad couldn’t stand in line during election day because of Parkinson’s. His main goal is to protect the freedom to vote.

 

County Attorney

Brad Johnson – www.bradforanoka.com

Brad Johnson was born and raised in Anoka and he currently lives in Coon Rapids with his wife and two children. He has 24+ years of experience as a lawyer and prosecutor and has handled thousands of cases. If elected, Johnson promises that local law enforcement will have the training and support it needs to succeed and, with his leadership, Anoka County will be a model for other counties to follow. “My number one goal is to carry out my plan for a better criminal justice system,” Johnson said. “I am the only candidate with an eight-year vision called Criminal Justice 2030 for how to improve our criminal justice system. I will improve relationships with police and end County Attorney’s Office policies that ignore and de-criminalize low-level drug offenses. I will focus more on car jackings, fleeing police, and the exploitation of the young and elderly, and change practices that have law clerks arguing bail resulting in repeat offenders being released without bail.”

Wade Kish – www.wadekish.org

Wade Kish was born and raised in Minnesota and has a wife and two children. Kish has 22 years of experience as a felony prosecutor, 19 of which have been in Anoka County. He has handled nearly 4000 felony cases in Anoka County. If elected, Kish promises to continue to serve the citizens of Anoka County and pay forward the opportunities he has been blessed with.

 

State Attorney General

Jim Schultz – jimformnag.com

Jim Schultz is a member of the Republican party. His beliefs are to ensure public safety, defending the Constitution and economic prosperity.

Keith Ellison – www.keithellison.org

Keith Ellison is a member of the Democratic party. He has been the state’s Attorney General for four years and has campaigned for consumer protection. His central beliefs are equity, inclusion and transparency.

 

State Senate

Pam Wolf

Pam Wolf has lived in the northeast metro for 48 years. “I know the area well; including the benefits of living in this district and the concerns for the area (economy, crime, and educational needs). I have taught and coached in the area for most of my career. I also served in the Senate for two years (2011-2012), so I have the experience to ‘hit the ground running’ at the Capitol,” Wolf said. The candidate’s top three priorities are the economy, crime prevention, and education. “But my expertise and focus is in education. I have been a teacher and coach in the area for 36 years (one of the places I taught/coached was at Columbia Heights Middle School, now called Columbia Academy),” Wolf said.

Mary Kunesh – marykunesh.com

Mary K. Kunesh is a member of the Democratic party. She’s currently running for re-election and continues to be a State Senator. She’s committed to working on an equitable education plan for all students, racial and gender equity, clean water, lands and air as well as robust and broadly shared prosperity.

 

State House

Mike Sharp – sharpforhouse.com

Mike Sharp’s number one goal if elected would be to ensure public safety. “Violent crime has become more brazen and increased in frequency in recent years. I will work with state and local leaders to find solutions to violent crime by supporting law enforcement, ensuring repeat violent offenders are appropriately punished, and finding ways to improve the lives of people who have paid their debts to society,” Sharp said. “I am a husband, father, and physician assistant (PA) who has worked the last two years on the front lines of COVID in multiple rural Emergency Departments. Prior to that, I was blessed to work in the Intensive Care Unit at Mayo Clinic. These positions have given me experience working with people from all types of backgrounds to find solutions to very important problems, and I will bring those skills to the negotiating table when I meet with House colleagues from across the aisle and across the state.”

Sandra Feist – feistforhouse.org

“I am focused on fully, equitably funding our schools and on improving our legal systems to be more effective and just. In addition, I am an advocate for bold climate action and protecting reproductive freedom. I am also passionate about data privacy. I will advance policies that ensure that all members of our community are supported and can thrive. I am a practicing immigration attorney with over 20 years of experience, a law firm founder, partner and manager, and an adjunct professor of law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. I was elected to the Minnesota House in 2020,” Feist said. “With this background, I bring to the role of Legislator the compassion and skill of an immigration attorney, the practicality of a small business owner, the communication skills of a law professor, and the patience of a mother. In addition, over the past two years, I have demonstrated a skill at creating consensus and successfully passing bipartisan legislation.”

 

U.S. Representative

Ilhan Omar – omar.house.gov

Ilhan Omar is running for the seat of U.S house representative of Minnesota as a democrat. Her platform is caring for those marginalized, such as making a fair immigration system for non-American-born residents, creating better economic opportunities for working families and fighting for LGBTQIA+ rights. 

Cicely Davis – www.cicelydavis.com

Cicely Davis is running for the seat of U.S house representative of Minnesota as a Republican. Her platform including intentions to rebuild the police force, help lower inflation, create affordable housing, and investing in education.

 

County Sheriff

Brad Wise – www.bradwiseforsheriff.com

Brad Wise was sheriff for the Coon Rapids Police Department for 11 years. He also graduated from Coon Rapids High School. The city’s crime rate dropped 51% under Brad Wise’s supervision. If elected, Wise promises to provide better interventions and prevention services to offenders and repeated offenders. He promises to build a safe and healthy community of Anoka just like Coon Rapids. 

Paul Lenzmeier – lenz4sheriff.com

Paul Lenzmeier has held the position of Commander of the Patrol Division for five years now and has served the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office for 24 years. If elected, Lenzmeizer promises to build Behavioral and Mental Health Advisory Groups to combat behavior and mental issues within  the community. He promises to increase the Anoka County public safety services efficiency and promises to give his officers the correct training to tackle all challenges. 

 

State Auditor

Tim Davis – timdavis4auditor.com

Tim Davis is currently running for Minnesota State Auditor. His top priorities are legalizing marijuana, population reduction and finding alternative energy and resources. Davis is seeking to bring independence and hold everyone in office accountable for the people of Minnesota. 

Julie Blaha – www.blahaforauditor.org

Julie Blaha is the State Auditor of Minnesota. She was elected in 2018 and served as the secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. She is running for re-election for the Democratic Party. 

Ryan Wilson – wilson4mn.com

Ryan Wilson is running as a Republican for State Auditor of Minnesota. As an experienced CEO, Wilson’s priority is to look after the fraud abuse in Minnesota. He is looking to shed light on how the government works and ensure residents of Minnesota understand how their tax dollars are spent.  

Will Finn

Will Finn is a candidate for Minnesota State Auditor. Finn is on the ballot for the general election as a part of the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party.

 

Governor & Lt. Governor

Gabrielle M. Prosser and Kevin A. Dwire

Gabrielle M. Prosser has worked in a candy and coffee shop as well as a restaurant. She is a big advocate and supporter of abortion rights. She hopes that Minnesota will have a labor party that will run for power as an alternative to Democrats. 

Hugh McTavish and Mike Winter – www.mctavish4mn.org

Hugh McTavish was born in 1968 and is currently 52 years old. He’s gotten a Ph.D. and law degree from the University of Minnesota. McTavish is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit organization COVID Sanity. His goals are to restore the environment and is opposed to the growth of GDP.

James McCaskel And David Sandbeck – www.james4mn.com

James McCaskel was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He’s been a community organizer and political scientist. He wants to protect natural resources by properly disposing of the waste we produce and help our new generation advance into the future.

Scott Jensen and Matt Birk – drscottjensen.com

Republican Scott Jensen was a professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School and had a medical practice of his own. He also used to be a member of the Citizens Alliance Bank board where he served as the audit committee chair. Jensen hopes to stop the crime rates in Minnesota, develop plans to fight inflation and energy costs, help lower gas prices, protect and support women, and help improve the education system.

Steve Patterson and Matt Huff – www.patterforgov.com

Steve Patterson has worked as a hospital security officer and is a business owner. Like Gabrielle Prosser, he too supports abortion rights and firmly believes in the freedom women should have and also wants to support small businesses in Minnesota.

Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan – walzflanagan.org

Democrat Tim Walz is from West Point, Nebraska. He was a public school teacher for 20 years. Walz wants to lower tuition costs and taxes and improve the education system. He also supports abortion rights and advocates for public safety and the transparency of prescription drug prices. Walz encourages the full usage of reusable energy and supports immigrants.