Students elect mix of incumbents, newcomers
Middle-school students at Austin's Ellis Middle School mainly backed incumbents in the U.S. House, state legislative and Austin City Council races, but went with the challengers for governor and Mower County Sheriff, although vote tallies were close in both of those races.
Social studies teachers for the school's three grades had their students research the candidates in Tuesday's election and vote in a mock election last week. The students marked ballots similar to the ones their parents will use Tuesday.
A total of 270 Ellis students voted in the mock election, which teachers say has been a tradition that reaches back to the 1970s.
In the races, 1st District DFL Rep. Tim Walz won with 456 votes. Republican Randy Demmer was second, receiving 193 votes and Independent Party candidate Steven Wilson received 67 votes from the students.
Incumbent DFL Sen. Dan Sparks won in District 27 against Republican challenger Kathy Green, 482 votes to 289 votes.
So did DFL Rep. Jeanne Poppe, the incumbent in House District 27B. She received 476 votes to Republican challenger Jennifer Gumbel's 285 votes.
The gubernatorial race was more evenly matched. Republican Tom Emmer edged Democrat Mark Dayton, 244 votes to 224 votes, and Independence Party challenger Tom Horner received 105 votes from the students.
In the race for sheriff, the students picked Sgt. Jeff Ellis over incumbent sheriff Terese Amazi, 373 to 351.
They chose to re-elect incumbent mayor Tom Stiehm over challenger Marian Clennon, 382 to 359.
They picked incumbent Janet Anderson over challenger Michael Matthias Weinmann for council member-at-large. They chose incumbent 1st Ward council member Jeff Austin and incumbent 2nd Ward council member Dick Pacholl over challengers Derek Hyland and Roger Boughton, respectively.
The students chose Judy Enright for the 3rd Ward council seat over Jeff Bednar, 140 votes to 120.