Political Systems

The 13 Minneapolis City Council Members

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

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

The City Council is one part of the two-part – strong council, weak mayor – governing body of Minneapolis. There are 13 council members who are elected by the city’s voters every four years and by ranked-choice voting (each council member is elected by their respective ward’s citizenry). This means the next election cycle for the city council will take place in 2018; thus, the previous election cycle took place in 2014.

The Minneapolis City Council’s structure consists of a council president, a council vice president, a majority leader, a minority leader, and nine council members. As of 2014, Barbara Johnson, who represents the 4th Ward, serves as council president; Elizabeth Glidden, who represents the 8th Ward, serves as council vice president; John Quincy, who represents the 11th Ward, serves as the majority leader; and Cam Gordon, who represents the 2nd Ward, serves as the minority leader.

Although the majority of the city council is representative of the dominant group, “white,” it is fairly equal and equitable across gender lines. For example, in the case of leadership, both the council president and vice president are female. In the case of equality, there are 7 men and 6 women. That is, 54 percent of the city council is male; whereas, 46 percent of the city council is female, which is right in line with Stockholm, Sweden, for example.

Comparing the dominant group to the non-dominant group, Blong Yang, who represents the 5th Ward, “is the first Hmong-American to be elected to the Minneapolis City Council,” Abdi Warsame, who represents the 6th Ward, is the first Somali-American to be elected to the Minneapolis City Council and the first Somali-American to be elected to a policy position in the United States, and Alondra Cano, who represents the 9th Ward and who immigrated to the United States from Mexico during her youth, is the only member of Latino heritage sitting on the council, although Mexico is a North American country.

The other ten members are either from Minnesota or somewhere else in the United States  and are of european descent, i.e., the dominant group. This means that 23 percent of the city council is representative of the non-dominant groups in Minneapolis; whereas, 77 percent of the city council is representative of the dominant group of Minneapolis.

Comparing these city council group percentages to the 2010 census of the general population of Minneapolis, which states that approximately 64 percent of the city’s residents are “white” and 36 percent are not “white,” is called relative frequency in statistics. What this means is that when someone compares the “racial” composition of the city council to that of the “racial” composition of the city, one would expect the “racial” compositions of each to be relative or very similar to each other. Obviously in regards to Minneapolis, this is not the case.

Here is the list of the 13 current council members:

  1. Kevin Reich (Ward 1)
  2. Cam Gordon (Ward 2)
  3. Jacob Frey (Ward 3)
  4. Barbara Johnson (Ward 4)
  5. Blong Yang (Ward 5)
  6. Abdi Warsame (Ward 6)
  7. Lisa Goodman (Ward 7)
  8. Elizabeth Glidden (Ward 8)
  9. Alondra Cano (Ward 9)
  10. Lisa Bender (Ward 10)
  11. John Quincy (Ward 11)
  12. Andrew Johnson (Ward 12)
  13. Linea Palmisano (Ward 13)

Author’s Notes:

  • Barbara Johnson has been serving as council president since 2006.
  • Politically, there are only two parties currently represented on the city council: the Democratic Farmer Labor party and the Green Party of Minnesota.
  • The filing fee to run for city council member is $250.
  • With respect to the city council, this author admits that each member of the city council would need to identify him or herself as “white” or not “white” for the percentages to be codified. The city council statistics were based off of observations and of course observations can be misleading.
  • “Whites” are the dominant group; whereas, the non-dominant groups are not “white.” There is a scientific reason for this, which has to do with systems in general.

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