The 2023 city elections will be the first time Southwest Voices will really get to cover a city election (we launched 3 weeks before the last one). We asked our readers what you wanted us to focus on, and here’s what you said.

What are the most important things you need to make a decision about your vote? 

Options: Debates, candidate endorsements, lists of policy positions, deep-dives on candidate backgrounds, breakdowns of current councilmember votes, analysis of policy proposals, written editorials from community members

A you can see, by far the most popular response is that people want us to highlight policies that candidates support (and do so in digestible ways – lists were way more popular than deep-dives).

You also asked for breakdowns of the voting records of current Council Members. We published a piece from Josh Martin analyzing divided votes at the City Council already, and we’ll aim to produce more work like this this year.

One thing that we’d been looking at doing that this survey put to bed – debates! You don’t want them, and as a result, we won’t try to organize or host them. We heard from you that you do want to focus on policy, so we’ll work on more ways to do that.

In the weeks to come, we’ll also aim to interview all candidates for City Council in Southwest Minneapolis (Wards 7, 8, 10, 11, and 13). These efforts are ongoing. 

What issues are most important to you in the 2023 city election? 

Options: Housing, money in politics/campaign donations, public safety, public works (road construction, plowing, etc.), schools, small businesses, taxes, the City’s budget, the City’s economy, and transit

Four big issues ranked well ahead of the rest, headlined by public safety and including housing, transit, and public Works. Small businesses, the city’s budget, and the city’s economy all finished at the bottom.

What resources or information do you need to help inform you about the upcoming city elections in 2023?

We left this option as a big, blank box for you to use however you wanted. Here are a few of your responses:

“Specific answers to specific policy questions with an emphasis on ‘how’,  ie. ‘What would be your policy on zoning? How would you go about changing the current system?’ ‘What would your public safety policy be? How would you actually implement those changes?’ ‘What would be your policy on clearing sidewalks of snow? How would you pay for it?’”

“Candidate interviews are much more helpful than debates and endorsements.”

“Are the candidates Defunders/how did the candidates vote on ballot measure 2 from 2021?”

“Detailed explanations of candidates’ goals as well as past performance in various previous jobs. Details, details!”

“Relationship networks. How are candidates connected to one another and current city council members.”

“Profiles and interviews/position statements from candidates across the political spectrum, to the extent that one exists in Mpls. (I’m left-leaning and am amazed to see many lefty officials get tagged as “conservative” in this town.)”

“Is labor strength really the burning issue in this city, or do we need a broad economic revitalization?”

“Deep reporting on key council members positions on ‘controversial topics’ that matter - homeless encampments (what are their actual plans and positions), policing (what is their public safety platform and how are they creating real accountability), equity and justice (within the city govt itself and across all programs - why don’t we have a ubi program? What about targeted investments in communities most in need, etc?)”

“I would love information that I can't find on their website. So often I feel like a million orgs (who do good work!) ask candidates to fill out questionnaires that just end up as copy and paste answers from their website or filler in an attempt to bore the reader into clicking away and never asking a question about that topic again. I know this isn't always possible but I'd also love things that actually challenge the candidates beliefs so that I can see how they handle being challenged.”

“I'm interested in where candidates stand on key debates within Minneapolis but also the order of their priorities. What do they want to tackle first? What percentage of their time do they want to invest in each debate. If someone's environmental policies line up with mine but they only want to spend 5% of their time there, that would dramatically change my opinion (and is a framing I don't see in many other media sources).”

Thanks for all of the thoughtful responses. We’ll use this guide as the north star for our election coverage this year.