You asked: How do I learn about attorney, judge and school board races?

the Minnesota primary elections
Justine and Chris explain to their children Rowan (left) and Harrison about voting at Lynnhurst Community Center during the Minnesota primary elections in Minneapolis on Aug. 9.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News
Published: Nov. 7 | Updated: Nov. 8

Several MPR News readers have asked us how to find more information on smaller races such as those for county attorney, judge or school board. Here are some resources that might help. 

Two of Minnesota’s largest counties are electing county attorneys

To be clear, there are probably two different attorney positions on your ballot. First is the attorney general, which is a prominent, statewide office. The attorney general serves for a 4-year term, with no term limit. Incumbent democrat Keith Ellison and Republican Jim Schultz are running for the position. MPR Reporter Regina Medina covered their campaigns in depth here.

There are also county attorneys: one per each county with 87 total. County attorneys also run 4-year terms “until a successor qualifies” according to the County Attorney Statutes. Dakota and Hennepin counties, two of the three largest counties in Minnesota, have county attorney races in this election, each with two candidates running. 

In Hennepin County, MPR News’ Jon Collins previously reported that candidates Mary Moriarty and Martha Holton Dimick say they want the same results — public safety and police accountability — they disagree on how to get there.

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In Dakota County, the Star Tribune reported current Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena, who was appointed by the Dakota County Board, is facing Matt Little, an attorney and former state senator and mayor.

If you’re curious about who your county attorney is outside of Hennepin or Dakota counties, the Minnesota County Attorney's Association has a list. 

There is only one contested judicial race in Minnesota

Judges from three levels of courts are up for elections this year: the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and the District Court. Judges in each serve 6-year terms. However, most of those judges are running unopposed — the only competitive race this year is within a district court.

According to Ballotpedia, “Minnesota is one of 12 states that uses nonpartisan elections to select judges and does not use retention elections for subsequent terms.” Retention elections are when you vote if the current judge – the incumbent – remains in office. But, in practice, it can play out a bit differently.

MinnPost reporter Peter Callaghan stated, “sitting judges most often resign before their terms have expired, giving governors the opportunity to appoint replacements.” Appointed judges must then run in the next general election which is more than one year after their swearing-in.

It is uncommon for someone to run against an incumbent judge: InForum reporter Hunter Dunteman stated, “Only five challengers have defeated incumbents for seats in Minnesota's district courts in the past 13 elections.” 

Technically there are over 100 judicial elections, but only one is contested this year. In the First District, Prior Lake attorney Matthew Hanson challenges incumbent Charles Webber, who has practiced law for 30 years and last year was appointed as the First District judge. Dunteman stated, “Hanson passed the bar in 2018, and is running on the idea of bringing a fresh perspective to the judiciary.”

For school board races, many look at endorsements

MPR News reporter Elizabeth Shockman reports more than 1,000 school board seats are on the ballot, with more than 1,600 people running to fill them. It might sound a bit worrying that there are so many school board races. But, Sahan Journal reporter Becky Z. Dernbach explained, “Throughout Minnesota, school board members have been quitting their jobs in record numbers since 2020. The positions generally don’t pay well and may involve long hours and high stress. Statewide, many school board members are facing harassment, threats and disinformation campaigns about how race and gender issues are taught in schools.”

With this insight, the high turnover rate makes sense. The good thing is there are more candidates than seats open for the 2022 school board elections. For example, two seats are open on Minneapolis’ school board but there are four candidates. 

A common way to decide who to vote for is to see who has endorsed them. Education Minnesota, a union representing more than 90,000 K-12 educators across the state, created an extensive list compiling endorsements from local teachers' unions, available at

MPR News reporter Elizabeth Shockman stated, “It’s something they’ve never had to do-usually there are only about 10 unions in the entire state that endorse candidates. This year, however, the number of local unions making endorsements is in the dozens. It’s a change the union has called “seismic.” Education America endorsed over 100 candidates.

Shockman’s story also mentioned an alternative organization endorsing school board candidates. The Minnesota Parents Alliance advocates for the right for parents to opt their children out of learning about race, gender, politics, and social-emotional learning, and endorses candidates who align with similar goals of allowing parents more say on what is taught in the classroom. They also endorsed over 100 candidates and their endorsements can be viewed at

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