CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES ARE ON THE BALLOT—WHAT HAS CHANGED SINCE 2021
Article #1 in a series of articles about the 2023 Minneapolis City Election, brought to you by
League of Women Voters Minneapolis
Because of the redistricting process completed in 2022, every Minneapolis City Council member
will be up for reelection this year to serve a two-year term. In 2025, Council Candidates will be
back on the ballot returning to the traditional four-year term. And this will be the first time the
13 City Council members will be elected following major changes to the City Charter (the City’s
Charter Amendment No. 184, passed in the municipal election of 2021, has redefined the City
structure. Before this process, the Government Structure Work Group described the City “as a
complex patchwork of existing laws that has been in place since 1920.” Known for years as a
“Weak Mayor-Strong Council” system, Minneapolis has been transformed into an “Executive
Mayor-Legislative Council” form of government. But what does that mean? What role will the
City Council play now?
In the 1980s Mayor Don Fraser failed to pass a Strong Mayor Charter Amendment, after
multiple attempts had been made throughout previous decades. He devised a compromise
which passed. He proposed an Executive Committee made up of up of the Mayor, the City
Council president, and up to three City Council members. Together they had a say in hiring or
firing department heads. But this was described over the years as an unruly “governance by
committee”. In 2004, Steve Berg, writing in the Star Tribune, called the city’s structure “one
that makes no one accountable and puts no one in charge”. He called it inefficient and costly.
Close to twenty years after that article appeared the situation has changed.
The 2021 Charter Amendment No. 184 has consolidated all administrative authority under the
office of the Mayor – the City’s chief executive officer – in a single chain of command. The
Executive Committee has been eliminated. All department heads are chosen and supervised by
the Mayor alone. The City Council confirms all of these appointments. Previously the Mayor
had appointed only the Chief of Police.
Removed from the day-to-day operations of the City’s administration, the City Council, the
City’s legislative and primary policy-making body, is charged with enacting local laws and public
policies. Council members serve ward constituents as advocate and ombudsman. The City
Council appoints the City Clerk, establishes an independent Audit Committee, and has general
oversight authority, holding the Administration to account. Under the Charter “neither the City
Council nor the Council committee or member may usurp, invade, or interfere with the Mayor’s
direction or supervision of the administration.” Clear lines of authority and responsibility have
While the Mayor represents the entire city, each Council member serves a ward of about
34,000 people. Your Council person is your public advocate – a link to your community and its’
specific issues. Who you elect can determine the outcome of which policies you care about;
policies that are not only heard, but ultimately incorporated into decision making. Vote local!
Your vote matters!