Who’s really the boss at Minneapolis City Hall


If you're willing to take on the job, you are! Claim your rightful power in the running of our city by voting in local elections. And there's a significant one coming up this Nov. 7. Due to redistricting, all 13 Minneapolis Wards will be choosing council members, the people who will speak for you and your neighborhood at City Hall, advocating for the issues you deem critical to the quality of life in the City of Lakes.
With the recent voter-approved change in the city charter redistributing duties between the mayor and the council, the newly elected city council will focus on creating ordinances and using the power of the purse. In other words, making the rules we all live by and approving which programs and services get money and how much. That's why being an informed and active local voter is so essential.
For instance, in this session, the Minneapolis City Council has worked on legislation setting rules about the security of reproductive healthcare facilities, including whether protestors may or may not block walkways. The council has been negotiating the city's agreement with Xcel and CenterPoint for our lighting, heating, and cooling. The board has also allocated money for critically needed affordable housing. As that need continues to grow in Minneapolis, so will the need for creative solutions and thoughtful funding from the newly elected council.
If potholes are a pet peeve, remember it's the council's job to prioritize money for street repairs, not to mention snow plowing, garbage, and recycling. While the very word 'zoning' may induce a yawn, this is another profoundly impactful council responsibility; the power to decide what is allowed where within the city limits. Light industrial on your corner? A park or a parking lot? Lake access? It's about zoning!
And, when we dial 911, help shows up because the council negotiated and approved the city's list of priorities in the form of the mayor's proposed budget. Oversight is the other side of that public safety responsibility. It was the council's job to approve the settlement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights mandating changes in the Minneapolis Police Department following the death of George Floyd. There are more urgent issues like these awaiting the new council, such as rent control, and your vote will determine their outcome.
Your council person not only votes on your behalf in city decisions, but they are also your advocate when you need help and your facilitator when you have an idea for the betterment of your community. Contacting them is simple through the Minneapolis government website, https://www.minneapolismn.gov/government/city-council/find-my-ward/ where you'll find their office email and phone number. You may reach your council representative immediately, or contact could be through their knowledgeable staff. While each council member’s approach to interacting with constituents may differ, their plan to be accessible to you is an important question to ask of those wanting the job.
Other considerations include what actions candidates have taken on the issues you care about in addition to how they talk about them. Check whether the people and organizations endorsing candidates have values that match your own. Check where campaign money comes from, and which donors may have influence. Ask who their closest advisors will be, and which other council members they may align with if elected. (Council positions are nonpartisan, but candidates are allowed to state their party affiliation)
Fortunately, there are good resources to help you find this information and more. After the filing deadline on Aug. 15, all council candidates are listed on the city website. (https://vote.minneapolismn.gov/candidates/) Candidate forums, including ones conducted by LWVMinneapolis, allow you to hear directly from candidates. Many forums are posted online. LWVMinneapolis also provides nonpartisan information on candidates through questionnaires available at https://www.vote411.org/. And, draw on the work of trusted, credible local reporters and news outlets with a proven track record of covering city elections.
The Minneapolis city council wields enormous power, influencing everything from the downtown skyline to the designation of bicycle lanes, so your vote, whether cast early, by mail, or on Nov. 7, will most definitely hit close to home. When you vote, you are the boss at City Hall.
For information on voter registration and eligibility, voting deadlines and locations, questions about Ranked Choice Voting, and more, go to: vote.minneapolismn.gov. For help developing your voting plan go to lwvmpls.org.


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