Government and Policy

A Quick Political View of Minneapolis

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons - Minneapolis City Hall

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons – Minneapolis City Hall

Minneapolis politics espouses very progressive and left leaning policy applications. And if one takes the time to reference the historical documents on who founded St. Anthony and Minneapolis originally – that is, how the two towns emerged as Minneapolis – then the current state of politics in Minneapolis will not be that surprising.

This of course does not mean that Minneapolis is homogeneous, or the same throughout, in its espoused political views or practices. Indeed, there is always at least a minority of political views and opinions. But make no mistake, Minneapolis is representative of the vast majority of American cities in its political nature. This means that most American cities are highly progressive and left leaning and Minneapolis is no exception. But this article is about the structure of the Minneapolis political body.

So what does the Minneapolis political body look like? Answering this questions lends further insight into the Minneapolis political system itself, its structure, and its environment. And it will eventually lead into such questions as “what are some of the current policies being discussed in the Minneapolis City Council?” And “what are some of the current policies being implemented?” But a caveat, this discussion does not assert an argument for what the Minneapolis political system is. That hypothesis will also be discussed in future articles.

The Minneapolis government is a mayor-council government. It is “a weak-mayor, strong-council form of government” according to the MinnPost. This means the mayor has very few powers; for example, when the mayor of Minneapolis wants to appoint a new chief of police, he or she must gain approval from the city council. Hence, the city council has the majority of the power and that majority power resides in the 13 wards and its respective representatives.

Photo Courtesy of the City of Minneapolis - 2014 Minneapolis City Council

Photo Courtesy of the City of Minneapolis – 2014 Minneapolis City Council

The Minneapolis City Council is composed of a council president, a vice-president, a majority leader, and a minority leader. Currently, Barbara Johnson of the 4th Ward is the city council president, Elizabeth Glidden of the 8th Ward is the vice-president, John Quincy of the 11th Ward is the majority leader, and Cam Gordon of the 2nd Ward is the minority leader. 12 of the council members belong to the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party of Minnesota and 1 member, Cam Gordon, belongs to the Green Party of Minnesota.

According to the City of Minneapolis website, the city council holds and conducts legislative powers such as creating policy and enacting legislation into law. Furthermore, their legislative responsibilities include conducting city business, managing the finances of the city, providing for the general welfare of the public, “judging the qualifications and election of council members” and “setting and enforcing rules to govern its proceedings.”

Beyond just sitting on the city council and directing general policy matters, each council member also participates in “Standing committees.” There are 13 committees in total: 11 standing committees and 2 independent committees. For example, Andrew Johnson, who represents the 12th Ward, sits on more than a half-dozen of the committees and vice-chairs two committees – the Zone and Planning Committee and the Health, Environment, & Community Engagement Committee.

This is rather common for each representative since Minneapolis has only 13 council members and a big city’s worth of policy to deal with on a regular basis. However, the mayor does chair one committee, which is the Executive Committee. Besides the responsibility of being the president of the Minneapolis City Council, Barbara Johnson of the 4th Ward is the vice-chair of the executive committee.

As previously mentioned, Minneapolis itself is composed of 13 wards. Each respective city council member is responsible for his or her respective ward along with the neighborhoods that are contained, or mostly contained, within the ward itself.

For example, Abdi Warsame, who is the 6th Ward’s representative, is responsible for such neighborhoods as Cedar Riverside, Elliot Park, Phillips West, Seward, Steven’s Square, and Ventura Village; whereas, Alondra Cano, who is the 9th Ward’s representative, is responsible for such neighborhoods as Central, Corcoran, East Phillips, Midtown Phillips, Longfellow, and Powderhorn Park.

As the reader can see, the Minneapolis city government has a fairly simple structure. It is composed of the city council and the mayor. The mayor does not have much power. The vast majority of the power resides in the council, and that power is distributed uniformly throughout the city council itself, which theoretically is distributed to the voters of Minneapolis.


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