Minneapolis City Council OK's new executive mayor government

People speak in front of a podium.
Mayor Jacob Frey speaks during a press conference in June. Changes in the city government give Frey more authority.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

The Minneapolis City Council on Thursday approved a measure that gives the mayor executive authority over most city departments.

“This is one of those rare occasions when we have the opportunity to make a longstanding, multi-generational impact through government structure,” Mayor Jacob Frey said at a news conference after the council’s 9-4 vote.

“This is truly an historic day, one that has been in the making over 100 years.”

The city government restructure codifies the new Office of Community Safety and creates a Race Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Department, previously a division of city government. The city council will continue to oversee the offices of the city clerk and the city auditor.

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Proponents of the ordinance say it protects the council’s function.

“To me, this collaboration with the mayor actually puts additional checks and balances in place to help protect the role of the city council as the legislative body,” said council vice chair Linea Palmisano. “I appreciate that this mayor followed this path and did not simply pursue an organizational structure that suited his own needs today.”

Council member Robin Wonsley criticized the lack of accountability steps.

“It’s never been explained why this new government will help ordinary people,” Wonsley said. “Most importantly, this government restructure comes with no plans for tracking success. And does not come with a definition of success. There is no plan. There are no metrics.”

Minneapolis voters approved a ballot measure last November that outlined a new government structure with an executive mayor and legislative council.

In August, the city council approved Frey’s choice of Cedric Alexander as the first community safety commissioner to oversee Minneapolis police, fire, 911 call center and violence prevention efforts.