Government and politics in Saint Paul, Minnesota

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Saint Paul, Minnesota is the capital of Minnesota. The city is also the largest city and county seat of Ramsey County. Saint Paul has a strong mayor-council government. Seven city council members elected in wards and one mayor elected at large serve the city.

City government and politics[edit]

Saint Paul is governed with a variation of the strong mayor-council form of government.[1] The mayor is the chief executive and chief administrative officer for the city and the seven member city council is the legislative body.[2][3] The mayor is elected from the entire city, while members of the city council are elected from seven different geographic wards, which have approximately equal populations.[4][5] Both the mayor and the city council serve four-year terms.[6]

The mayor's duties include preparing an annual budget, appointing heads to executive departments of the city and either signing or vetoing legislative ordinance passed by the city council.[7] The city council is responsible for the city budget, which is supposed to be based on the mayor's proposed budget. All appointments made by the mayor must be approved by the city council.[8][9] The city council may override the mayor's veto.[10] In addition, the city council creates all of the city's ordinance. The city council may create legislative ordinance with four of seven votes. Legislative ordinance must then be presented to the mayor who may then veto or approve the legislation. With an additional vote, for a total of five votes, the council may override the mayor's veto.[10]

In addition to the mayor-council system, Saint Paul is governed by a unique neighborhood system. Since 1975, the city is split up into 17 City Districts, which are then governed by a District Council. The District Councils receive funding from the city but are otherwise independently run. Most councils have significant power on land use issues.[11]


The city has had three mayors who were natives of Ireland, William Dawson, Christopher D. O'Brien, and Frank Doran. Other Irish-American mayors of Saint Paul include: William Mahoney, William H. Fallon, John J. McDonough, Edward K. Delaney, John C. Daubney, Joseph E. Dillon, Thomas R. Byrne, Randy Kelly, and the current mayor, Chris Coleman. Unlike the rest of Minnesota and Minneapolis, Saint Paul has always been a Democratic stronghold. Aside from Norm Coleman who became a Republican in his second term, Saint Paul has not elected a Republican mayor since 1952.[12] The city's current mayor is Melvin Carter, a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL).

City Council[edit]

Saint Paul City Hall

As of the 2015 general election the Saint Paul City Council included:

Ward Name Party
1st Dai Thao DFL
2nd Rebecca Noecker DFL
3rd Chris Tolbert DFL
4th Russ Stark DFL
5th Amy Brendmoen DFL
6th Dan Bostrom DFL
7th Jane Prince DFL

Dan Bostrom resigned his position effective December 31, 2018, and Kassim Busuri was appointed to take his place representing Ward 6 until the election scheduled for November, 2019.


Minnesota State Capitol building in Saint Paul, designed by Cass Gilbert

Saint Paul is the capital of the state of Minnesota. The city hosts the capitol building, designed by Saint Paul resident Cass Gilbert. The Minnesota Supreme Court meets in the state capitol as well as the Minnesota Judicial Center. The Minnesota house and senate office buildings are also in the city. The Minnesota Governor's Residence, which is used for some state functions, is on Summit Avenue.

The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, the state affiliate of the Democratic Party, is headquartered in Saint Paul.

Saint Paul is also the county seat for Ramsey County.

The city is represented by four Minnesota Senate districts; 64, 65, 66 and 67. Minnesota House of Representatives districts 64A, 64B, 65A, 65B, 66A, 66B, 67A and 67B are all located in the city.

Minnesota House and Senate districts
Senate House
Name First Elected Party Name First Elected Party
64 Dick Cohen 1986 DFL 64A Erin Murphy 2006 DFL
64B Dave Pinto 2014 DFL
65 Sandy Pappas 1990 DFL 65A Rena Moran 2010 DFL
65B Carlos Mariani 1990 DFL
66 John Marty* 1992 DFL 66A John Lesch 2002 DFL
66B Alice Hausman* 1989 DFL
67 Foung Hawj 2012 DFL 67A Tim Mahoney 1998 DFL
67B Sheldon Johnson 2000 DFL

*District also includes Falcon Heights, Lauderdale and Roseville .


Saint Paul is located in Minnesota's 4th congressional district, a solidly Democratic district with a CPVI of D + 13.[13] The district is represented by Betty McCollum, a progressive Democrat, scoring 92% progressive by a progressive group[14] and 4% conservative by a conservative group[15] on a range of issues. Former U.S. Senator, Norm Coleman, was formerly mayor of Saint Paul. Saint Paul's Xcel Energy Center was the host of the 2008 Republican National Convention.


  1. ^ "Description of Saint Paul's Form of Government" (PDF). 2008 Mayor’s Proposed Budget. City of Saint Paul. Archived from the original (pdf) on November 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-10. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ "Sec. 2.01. Chief executive". Administrative Code. City of Saint Paul. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  3. ^ "Sec. 4.01. Legislative power". Saint Paul City Charter. City of Saint Paul. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
  4. ^ "Sec. 2.01. Elective officials". Saint Paul City Charter. City of Saint Paul. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
  5. ^ "Sec. 4.01.2. Initial districts". Saint Paul City Charter. City of Saint Paul. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  6. ^ "Sec. 2.02. Terms". Saint Paul City Charter. City of Saint Paul. Archived from the original on 2003-02-17. Retrieved 2007-11-10. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  7. ^ "Sec. 3.01.3. Powers and duties". Saint Paul City Charter. City of Saint Paul. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
  8. ^ "Sec. 10.02. Submission of budget. and Sec. 10.06. Council action on budget". Saint Paul City Charter. City of Saint Paul. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  9. ^ "Sec. 3.01.3. Powers and duties". Saint Paul City Charter. City of Saint Paul. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
  10. ^ a b "Sec. 6.03.1. Legislative ordinances. and Sec. 6.10. Reconsideration and overriding veto". Saint Paul City Charter. City of Saint Paul. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  11. ^ "Saint Paul Participation". Citizen Participation Project Case Studies. Citizen Participation Project. Archived from the original on 2007-12-09. Retrieved 2007-11-10. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  12. ^ Eric J. Ostermeier. "Twin Cities Mayoral Historical Overview" (PDF). Center for the Study of Politics and Governance. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
  13. ^ "Will Gerrymandered Districts Stem the Wave of Voter Unrest?". The Campaign Legal Center. Retrieved 2007-03-30.
  14. ^ Grossman, Joshua. "ProgressivePunch Leading with the Left". All Issues. ProgressivePunch. Retrieved 2006-11-02.
  15. ^ "ACU Ratings of Congress, 2006". American Conservative Union. 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-09-03. Retrieved 2007-09-08. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)