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A voter’s guide to who is influencing the 2023 Minneapolis City Council elections

A divided Minneapolis City Council is up for election in November, and there’s a lot at stake on issues from housing to transit to public safety.

MinnPost-Mpls Voices Election Guide
MinnPost photo illustration by Corey Anderson

What’s at stake

The Minneapolis City Council is divided. MinnPost and Minneapolis Voices have both broken down voting records, showing stark differences on policies ranging from housing to transit to public safety.

With the whole council up for election in 2023, the balance of power could swing multiple ways.

While there’s lots of nuance in who votes with whom on the 13-member panel, there are clear patterns: One group of four or five council members on the far left vote together often. Another five often stake out more centrist positions.

Click on the graphic above for a larger version of this chart, which shows how the current Minneapolis City Council has voted on some key issues. With the whole council up for election in 2023, the balance of power could swing multiple ways.
Click on the graphic above for a larger version of this chart, which shows how the current Minneapolis City Council has voted on some key issues. With the whole council up for election in 2023, the balance of power could swing multiple ways.
The 2023 council election is happening because of recent redistricting, and the entire council will be up for election again in 2025. This year, Ward 7 council member Lisa Goodman and Ward 12 council member Andrew Johnson are the only ones not seeking reelection. 

In 2021, Minneapolis voters picked a new “strong mayor” system — but if you think that means this election doesn’t matter, think again: The mayor may now have sole authority over hiring most city staff, but the City Council still has the power to set the budget. The council also oversees the legislative agenda, from mundane items — like liquor license renewals and rezoning requests — to controversial initiatives, like revisiting the city’s response to encampments for the unhoused and approving major street projects. Voters have an important role to play in choosing a City Council that is exploring how far their powers go within the new legislative structure. 

One clear example of what’s at stake: rent control. A late push to advance a rent control proposal failed over the summer. If supporters want to try again next year, they’ll likely need to elect more allies to the City Council to override a probable veto from Mayor Jacob Frey. The mayor has promised to veto rent control proposals in the past and has two more years in office.

Besides rent control, the 2024 City Council could be legislating on other issues like sidewalk snow removal. As you consider who to vote for in the 2023 City Council elections, MinnPost and Minneapolis Voices want to equip you with the information you need to ask smart questions and make decisions. That includes understanding who’s spending money to influence the outcome. This guide is meant to help you understand who’s influencing the race, and why.

Resource list

Voter resources

Meet the candidates

Voter issues

City Council reporting

Know of a great resource on Minneapolis city elections that you think we should add to this list? Send a note to with “election guide” in the subject line.

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Who’s spending money on Minneapolis elections?

The candidates vying for 13 seats on the Minneapolis City Council have started spending money to reach voters and get out their messages. Often harder to understand — and greater in volume — is the cash spent by political groups seeking to influence these races.

Here’s a look at what we know so far about the groups spending money to influence the Minneapolis city elections so far and those, based on past races, that could jump in during the election season.

This section is based on campaign finance documents filed through the end of July and may be updated as the race unfolds.

Democratic Farmer-Labor Party (DFL)

Organization type: political party

The DFL is a statewide party with an affiliated branch in Minneapolis. It endorses candidates through a caucus process, then devotes resources to endorsed candidates throughout the election cycle.

Minneapolis DFL partyFor campaigns, the biggest asset a DFL endorsement brings is the use of the party’s lists of voters, which they have built over many election cycles at all levels. Candidates who earn the endorsement have access to these lists to contact voters.

Endorsements: Elliot Payne (W1 incumbent), Michael Rainville (W3 incumbent), LaTrisha Vetaw (W4 incumbent), Soren Stevenson (W8 challenger), Jason Chavez (W9 incumbent), Aisha Chughtai (W10 incumbent), Emily Koski (W11 incumbent), Aurin Chowdhury (W12 open seat), Linea Palmisano (W13 incumbent). Endorsements are not expected in the remainder of the wards.

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)

Organization type: political group

Twin Cities DSA Political Fund report

The Twin Cities Chapter of the DSA has played an active role in the last couple of election cycles in the city. Three of its members — Robin Wonsley, Jason Chavez, and Aisha Chughtai — were elected to the Minneapolis City Council in 2021.

Democratic Socialists of AmericaThe DSA’s 2023 candidate questionnaire included issues such as implementing rent control, building public housing, halting homeless encampment closures, a municipal Green New Deal (which includes building the East Phillips urban farm and closing the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center as well as making corporations “pay the bill for the impact of their pollution”), blocking new money for the Minneapolis Police Department, banning tear gas, and implementing municipal shoveling and universal pre-K programs.

The Twin Cities DSA Political Fund has raised $3,012 and has $3,785 on hand after giving $5,000 to Minneapolis for the Many.

Endorsements: Wonsley, Stevenson, Chavez, Chughtai, Chowdhury.

All of Mpls

Organization type: Political Action Committee (PAC)

All of Mpls report

All of Mpls is a PAC that endorsed and supported several of the more moderate candidates in the race in 2021, including Mayor Jacob Frey, and devoted resources to defeating Question 2, the amendment focused on restructuring the Minneapolis Police Department.

All of MplsDuring 2021, the PAC sent several mail pieces early in the election cycle and also spent some of its budget on digital media ads on Facebook and elsewhere.

All of Minneapolis is planning to be active again. So far this year, the group has raised nearly $107,000, with $50,000 coming from one person: Wayzata resident and major DFL donor Vance Opperman. The group has not endorsed any candidates yet this cycle, according to its website, but has spent $75,000, including $72,500 on polling. As of its most recent report, the group has $33,675 on hand.

Minneapolis for the Many

Organization type: Political Action Committee (PAC)

Minneapolis for the Many report

A recently-formed political group founded by former city employee Chelsea McFarren, who left her job after disagreeing with the city’s homeless encampment policies, and Luke Mielke, who is affiliated with Twin Cities DSA.

Minneapolis for the ManyInsiders close to the campaign have suggested that this group is expected to coordinate some of the progressive/left-wing independent expenditure efforts in this election cycle.

So far, the group has filed one campaign finance reporting document that lists a $5,000 donation from Mike Rollins, a self employed writer in Minneapolis. The Twin Cities DSA political fund’s report also lists a $5,000 donation to Minneapolis for the Many.

On the group’s website, they say they support Jeremiah Ellison, Katie Cashman, Soren Stevenson, Aisha Chughtai, and Aurin Chowdhury.

Minneapolis Downtown Council

Organization type: business association

Minneapolis Downtown Council PAC report

Minneapolis Downtown CouncilSo far, the Downtown Council’s PAC — the political committee affiliated with many downtown Minneapolis businesses — has donated to the campaigns of incumbents Michael Rainville, Andrea Jenkins and Koski, plus Luther Ranheim (W12 open seat), and Scott Graham (W7 open seat). The PAC also gave $250 to Mayor Jacob Frey’s campaign account, although the mayor is not on the ballot in 2023.

The group has raised $2,500 in 2023 and had $616 on hand as of its most recent report.

Faith in Minnesota Fund

Organization type: Political Group/PAC

Faith in Minnesota fund report 

Faith in Minnesota FundFaith in Minnesota’s listed treasurer is the operations director of ISAIAH, which describes itself as a multiracial, statewide, nonpartisan faith coalition fighting for racial and economic justice. Faith in Minnesota has raised $13,000 this year. Its most recent report listed $724 on hand.

The group made independent expenditures — spending that is less restricted but prohibited from coordinating with candidate spending — in support of Katie Cashman (W7), Aurin Chowdhury and Soren Stevenson.

DFL Senior Caucus

Organization type: political group

DFL Senior Caucus Report

DFL Senior CaucusThe Senior Caucus was formed in 2006 as an organization within the Minnesota DFL to cater to and attempt to represent retirees, individuals over the age of 55, and senior citizens.

As of the pre-primary report, the group had raised $2,765 and had $10,254 on hand.

Its expenditures included cash contributions to the campaigns of Andrea Jenkins, Kayseh Magan (W6 challenger), and Scott Graham.

The caucus spent $37,020.19 in the 2021 election, almost entirely focused on a series of political mailers. The group typically endorses more moderate candidates across the board. 

2023 endorsements: Michael Rainville (W3), LaTrisha Vetaw (W4), Kayseh Magan [Jamal Osman is listed as “Acceptable”] (W6), Scott Graham (W7), Emily Koski (W11), Linea Palmisano (W13)

Building and Trades Council 

Organization type: political group/PAC

Building and Trades Council 

Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council

The Building and Trades Council is the umbrella organization for union construction crafts. The organization’s most recent report shows contributions to the campaigns of Vetaw, Rainville, Koski, Graham and Jenkins.

The organization has spent $2,858 so far this year and has $8,915 on hand.

Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce

Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce

Organization type: business association

The Regional Chamber put $1,293,500 million into the 2021 election. They did it by directing their money into a PAC called Plan for Progress. Plan for Progress then made payments of $1,229,037 to All of Mpls (discussed above). 

They made all of those donations in October of 2021, which meant that the report on their spending did not come out until after the election. Plan for Progress later shut down, but there is a possibility that a similar organization will form for the 2023 election.

Regional Labor FederationRegional Labor Federation

Organization type: labor group

The federation was an active participant in the 2021 election cycle and spent on a variety of candidates across the political spectrum ranging from Mayor Jacob Frey to Lisa Goodman to Robin Wonsley.

They spent around $10,000 in Minneapolis in the 2021 election cycle but, as of publication, have yet to file a 2023 report with the state.