Winter Vibes: Minnesota Elections, TSA Incident, and Flag Redesign!

This week’s edition covers stories 
from November 2nd to November 8th, 2023.

Today’s issue is 750 words, a 5.5-minute read.

Ebe talks Minnesota elections, the concerning story of an airline employee, and contenders for Minnesota’s new flag design

Hi everyone, it’s Ebe!

The temperatures just keep dropping and I couldn’t be more excited to break out my big sweaters and knee socks, listen to Chet Baker, sip on hot tea, and make all of my favorite comfort foods including this soul-warming smoked sausage, potato, and kale soup! I’m telling you, this is what half of my diet will consist of all winter and hopefully yours too. This week I’m tackling the Minnesota elections, the concerning story of an airline employee, and contenders for Minnesota’s new flag design.

Minnesota held statewide elections this past Tuesday and the results are still coming in. All 13 and 7 wards were up for election in Minneapolis and St. Paul, respectively, with dozens of candidates hoping to snag seats. City council races were also in full swing, with city council president Andrea Jenkins managing to retain her seat after a close race with Soren Stevenson. 

Jenkins beat Stevenson by a mere 38 votes. In 2017, Jenkins, hailing from the heart of south Minneapolis, achieved a historic milestone as the initial openly transgender Black woman elected to a U.S. office. Her district, the very same where George Floyd was murdered in May 2020, overwhelmingly re-elected her in the previous contest. Despite this success, she encountered a formidable challenge when she lost the Minneapolis DFL endorsement to Soren Stevenson, a Democratic Socialist, in her latest campaign. 

Stevenson also secured the backing of the Democratic Socialists of America. During the post-Floyd murder riots, Minneapolis police’s rubber bullets cost him an eye, leading to a $2.4 million settlement from the city. Inspired by his neighbors’ dissatisfaction with the current council’s performance, they urged him to run for office, and so he did.

Andrea Jenkins. 📸  Dia Dipasupil | Getty Images for New York Magazine

Another highlight from this year’s elections: St. Paul voters voted to increase sales tax by 1%, putting the city sales tax at 9.875%, the highest in the state. Highlighting the need for substantial investment, they cite poorly maintained roads with significant safety concerns. Their argument advocates for a surcharge, contending that both residents and visitors, who travel from various parts of the state and utilize city roads and facilities, should contribute to the maintenance of the city’s infrastructure.

Read more Minnesota election highlights here.

In more concerning news, last week, a SkyWest airline employee at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was discovered with a loaded handgun during a random TSA screening. The TSA detected the firearm through X-ray, leading to airport police response. The employee, who had a permit for the weapon, failed to follow TSA checked bag procedures. SkyWest is conducting an internal review, and the individual faces a court appearance on January 8 after being arrested, booked, and released with a citation.

📸 MSP Airport Police

TSA Federal Security Director for Minnesota Mary Robinson shared the following written statement:

“Our officers are focused on ensuring that firearms and other weapons do not make it through our security checkpoints. I’m grateful that our officers here and nationwide remain vigilant during this busy travel season. Firearms should never be brought to the security checkpoint in carry-on luggage, and airline employees should certainly be aware of that.”

This marks the 49th firearm discovered at MSP this year, with 58 detected in the previous year and 56 in 2021 at security checkpoints. The TSA notes that a firearm violation can incur a maximum penalty of up to $14,950, determined by the specific circumstances of each case. News outlets are sharing the rules and regulations of carrying firearms through airports and urging folks to check local laws ahead of time for changes.

On a lighter note, more than 2,000 potential designs for Minnesota’s new state flag are in and have been released to the public for viewing! Last month, the state legislature created a commission for the redesign of the state flag and seal after widespread criticism citing racist imagery (and ugliness). DFL Rep. Mike Freiberg, the redesign bill’s sponsor, called the current flag a “cluttered and genocidal mess.”

Almost all submissions for a new design included the colors blue, green, and white and LOTS of loons. Other common imagery included snowflakes, the Minnesota state outline, and the north star. Later in November, the State Emblems Redesign Commission will shortlist five submissions each for the state seal and flag. The ultimate selection will be made by January 1, 2024.

Here is my favorite submission: 

That’s all from me, we’ll see you next time.


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Hi, friend: Ebelin here! 
We’re Communications Specialists by day
and slurpin’ ramen noodles 
by night!

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