Lisa Bender wins in Ward 10

With all precincts reporting, incumbent Meg Tuthill appeared to lose her first re-election bid

State Sen. Scott Dibble posed for a photo with City Council candidate Lisa Bender after her win in Ward 10. Credit: Dylan Thomas

THE WEDGE — First-time candidate Lisa Bender scored a decisive win in the Ward 10 City Council race, ousting incumbent Meg Tuthill after her first term in office.

Unofficial totals showed Bender received 3,704 first-choice votes (64 percent), while Tuthill was the first choice on 1,732 ballots (30 percent). Since Bender passed the 50-percent-plus-one threshold on the first round, there appeared to be no need to tabulate second- and third-choice votes.

Bender celebrated with supporters Tuesday night at Bryant-Lake Bowl in Uptown. The room was caught off-guard when vote totals suddenly appeared about an hour after polls closed.

Bender, who won the DFL endorsement in the race in April, repeatedly credited “grassroots” support for the victory.

“Our message resonated with people,” she said. “We kept hearing people in Ward 10 wanted a more progressive City Council member.”

Tuthill could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday night. Also a DFLer, she was in her first term in office, and controversially decided to remain in the race even after losing the party’s endorsement at the city convention in April.

While Tuthill won respect from many for her constituent service, others said she was resistant to new ideas. Bender said Ward 10 residents went to Tuthill’s office and heard “no.”

“That’s going to stop today,” she said Tuesday night.

Two other candidates for the Ward 10 seat trailed far behind the leaders. Nate Griggs won 226 first-choice votes, even though he announced he was no longer running weeks before Election Day, and Scott Hargarten received 96 first-choice votes.

State Sen. Scott Dibble [DFL-61] congratulated Bender on her win as the two stood onstage together in the Bryant-Lake Bowl theater. Dibble said later that Bender ran a “movement campaign.”

“[It was] all about drawing people in to shape their community,” he said.

Dibble had praise, too, for Tuthill, who he described as a “good person” with strong ties to her neighborhood.

“For Lisa to win against an incumbent by those numbers means she did something remarkable,” he said.

Diana Boegemann, president of Ward 10’s CARAG neighborhood, said shifting demographics in the Uptown area propelled Bender to victory. Boegemann said younger voters “connected with” her pledge to move the neighborhood forward.

Bender, who campaigned while pregnant and gave birth to her second child just three weeks before Election Day, said it was a “special time” for her family. She said she hadn’t slept much during the final weeks of the campaign.

“Tomorrow I hang out with my toddler, who I haven’t seen in about a month,” she joked. 

Bender is one of several new faces that will head to City Hall in January. The 13-member City Council will feature seven newcomers.

In Ward 6, Abdi Warsame has easily sailed to victory in a race against incumbent Robert Lilligren, according to unofficial results. Warsame will be the first Somali-American to serve on the City Council. He secured 63.92 percent of the votes compared to Lilligren’s 32.21. percent.

In Ward 3, political newcomer Jacob Frey defeated incumbent Diane Hofstede.

The Ward 13 race remains too close to call an unofficial winner. Linea Palmisano, the DFL-endorsed candidate, has 42.58 percent of the first place votes compared to Matt Perry’s 38.86 percent.

Incumbent Council Member John Quincy won re-election in Ward 11.