Recapping the issues: marriage, ID, Ojeda and St. Paul kids


Ojeda ’13 defeated in 64A Andrew Ojeda ’13, the Republican candidate for 64A Minnesota House of Representatives seat, was defeated by incumbent Representative Erin Murphy this week. Murphy won what will be her fourth term with 78.8 percent of the total vote and 84.1 percent of Macalester’s precinct. Ojeda, a California native, has been involved with the GOP on the state, local and school level throughout his time at Macalester. Ojeda is a current co-chair of Macalester’s College Republican organization (MacGOP) and a political science and German Studies double major. He also currently interns at the Capitol for State Senator Gretchen Hoffman (R) of District 10 in Northwestern Minnesota. Ojeda’s main motivation to run was concern for the state budget. He advocated removing government regulations and “red tape,” decreasing taxes to encourage business and lowering property taxes. However, Ojeda did not take a public stance on the state’s marriage and voter ID amendments. He said they were not the right way to handle the issues, though he was glad that citizens had the opportunity to vote. This was not Representative Murphy’s first victory against a college student: her first win in 2006 was against Jesse Mortenson ’05, who ran on the Green Party ticket, and in 2010 she won with 78.57 percent of the vote against University of St. Thomas student Zach Freitag. Murphy strongly opposed both the voter ID and marriage amendments. She has had the endorsement of OutFront Minnesota, an organization that advocates for equal rights for the LGBT community, since 2006. St. Paul voters approve additional public school funds Minnesota voters passed the St. Paul Public Schools Referendum—also known as the Strong Schools, Strong Communities Referendum—this week by 83 percent. The referendum will instigate an eight-year renewal of an existing referendum that increased tax revenue to public schools. The existing referendum allocated $646.55 per pupil and the renewal proposed an additional $175 per pupil. This revenue would come from a property tax increase of $5.10 per month or approximately $61 a year. Currently, the St. Paul Public School District has one of the lowest levies in the state of Minnesota, though it is one of the largest districts. According to the website for Saint Paul Public Schools, referendum funding will allow the district to increase and expand the range of its programs. Estimates suggest that the referendum is worth $39 million dollars, which will fund preschool and readiness programs, help reduce class sizes, help hire more teachers and counselors, support special education programs not funded by the state of Minnesota, support programs for English Language Learners and fund new technology. Had the referendum not passed, the St. Paul school district could have faced up to $30 million in cuts. Voter ID amendment rejected Minnesota’s voter ID amendment was defeated statewide on Tuesday when 46.3 percent of voters approved the amendment, which would require all eligible voters to provide photo ID with a current address in order to register. At least 50 precent of the electorate had to explicitly approve the amendment with a ‘yes’ vote in order for it to pass. All ballots left blank effectively counted as ‘no’ votes. Protect My Vote, the official ballot committee established to pass the amendment, conceded defeat late Tuesday night after it became clear that the 50 percent threshold would not be met. Proponents of the amendment argued that more stringent registration requirements were necessary in order to prevent cases of voter fraud. Our Vote Our Future, which ran a statewide ballot initiative campaign opposed to the amendment, raised over $3 million for phone banking and other advocacy efforts, while Protect My Vote only raised $1.5 million. 21.22 percent voted yes in state legislative district 64A, which represents most of the area surrounding Macalester. Opponents of the amendment argued that the new requirements would disproportionately affect college students because they may register under a different address than appears on a photo ID. ID requirements would also disproportionately affect minority and low-income voters. The language of the actual amendment and what appeared on the ballot were also different. The ballot described the measure as simply requiring a state issued photo ID, while the amendment would have also added restrictions to same-day registration and made no exemptions to the requirement. Marriage amendment struck down 52% to 48% Minnesota was one of four states that voted on marriage equality this week, but it was the only state that attempted to amend the constitution. In Maine, Washington and Maryland voters made the choice to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples. For Minnesota voters, ‘Vote No’ won out by a 52 to 48 percent margin. Maine, Washington, and Maryland now join Connecticut, Washington D.C., Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Iowa, New York and Vermont, which have all previously extended marriage equality and legalized gay marriage. Thirty different states have previously passed constitutional amendments limiting the definition of marriage to a union between a man and woman. None of the states’ results were seen as a given. The largest margin of victory of the four votes was in Maine, where gay marriage passed by six percentage points. Tuesday’s vote marks a turning point on the issue as previous votes on gay marriage had been voted down. In states where gay marriage is legal the decision has come from the legislature or a judicial ruling. A majority of the state needed to vote in favor of Minnesota’s marriage amendment in order for the state constitution to change. This meant that a failure to vote on the amendment was equivalent to a no vote. It is unclear how this impacted the vote; however, it couldn’t have hurt the ‘Vote No’ results. Support for the amendment has come from the Catholic Church and bishops which have donated more than $1 million. The Minnesota Family Council and the National Organization for Marriage have also provided strong support for the amendment. Opposition to the amendment has come from a multitude of sources. Minnesotans United for All Families headed up the statewide effort, which also included Minnesotan business leaders and Fortune 500 companies. Macalester faculty also voted to oppose to marriage amendment and on Oct. 5 the Board of Trustees voted to oppose the amendment. Augsburg College also opposed the amendment and Hamline University professors voted against it, though the school maintained a neutral stance. refresh –>