This guide was last updated Oct. 18, 2023.
What’s at stake
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.
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.
- Here’s how to register to vote and find your Minneapolis polling place
- This election, voters will be rank-choice voting for City Council candidates. Minneapolis has an informational page on ranked-choice voting and MPR News has a ranked-choice voting explainer
- The People’s Guide to the Polls from Minneapolis Documenters and partners
- A compilation of 2023 elections campaign ads from MinnPost and Minneapolis Voices
- Don’t know what City Council ward you are in? Use this ward map to find out
- Need a refresher on who your City Council person is? Here is the current City Council
Meet the candidates
- MinnPost’s Who’s Running for City Council in Minneapolis and St. Paul in 2023 with candidate questionnaire responses
- The League of Women Voters is holding 2023 City Council candidate forums in September and October
- Minneapolis election coverage from Minneapolis Voices, including candidate interviews
- MinnPost profile of City Council president Andrea Jenkins, running for reelection in Ward 8
- MinnPost profile of Soren Stevenson, who is challenging Andrea Jenkins in Ward 8
- A 2023 League of Women Voters article explaining the role City Council has in the new “strong mayor” system and why we are voting for City Council two years after electing a council (typically, a four-year term)
- MinnPost reports on the new restoration of voting rights to formerly incarcerated Minnesotans and a recent lawsuit challenging that State law.
City Council reporting
- Reporting and analysis on divided City Council votes in 2022 on public safety and other issues from Minneapolis Voices
- Reporting and analysis on how the current City Council votes from MinnPost
- MinnPost explainer on what happened with a rent control proposal at the Minneapolis City Council this year
- To review past City Council meetings, Minneapolis Documenters covers City Council meetings. The City of Minneapolis records most City Council and committee meetings, available on YouTube.
Know of a great resource on Minneapolis city elections that you think we should add to this list? Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org with “election guide” in the subject line.
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.
For 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
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.
The 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.
As the 2023 campaign has progressed, the Twin Cities DSA Political Fund has not been as active in raising or spending funds. The group has raised a total of $3,164 and has $3,789 on hand.
Endorsements: Wonsley, Stevenson, Chavez, Chughtai, Chowdhury.
All of Mpls
Organization type: Political Action Committee (PAC)
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.
So far this year, All of Mpls has raised more money than any other group that’s focused solely on the Minneapolis races. The group has raised nearly $454,000, with $5
0,000 of that total coming from one person: Wayzata resident and major DFL donor Vance Opperman. The North Central States Carpenters PAC, a labor group active in statewide politics, has also contributed $50,000. They’ve also folded in contributions from PACs funded by advocates for downtown businesses. (More on that below.)
In late August, All of Mpls reported $52,000 in independent expenditures to support specific candidates: Ward 7’s Scott Graham, Ward 8’s Andrea Jenkins and Ward 12’s Luther Ranheim. Not counting those ads, the organization has also doled out $167,000 on general expenses this year.
2023 endorsements: Michael Rainville (W3), LaTrisha Vetaw (W4), Scott Graham (W7), Andrea Jenkins (W8), Emily Koski (W11), Luther Ranheim (W12), Linea Palmisano (W13)
Minneapolis for the Many
Organization type: Political Action Committee (PAC)
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 Many has coordinated the independent expenditure efforts to support the candidates who are generally running on left-wing ideas in this election cycle.
Minneapolis for the Many has raised a little more than $102,800 this year — including $5,000 from the local DSA chapter. Most of the group’s fundraising total so far comes from a handful of other committees: Movement Voter PAC Minnesota gave a total of $40,000; Faith in Minnesota pitched in $20,000 (more on this group below) and the American Federation of Teachers gave another $10,000. Around two-dozen individual donors have also chipped in smaller amounts. The Twin Cities DSA political fund also donated $5,000 to Minneapolis for the Many in June.
Endorsements: Jeremiah Ellison (W5), Katie Cashman (W7), Soren Stevenson (W8), Aisha Chughtai (W10), Aurin Chowdhury (W12).
Minneapolis Downtown Council
Organization type: business association
So far, the Downtown Council’s PAC — the political committee affiliated with many downtown Minneapolis businesses — has donated to the campaigns of incumbents Michael Rainville (W3), Andrea Jenkins (W8) and Emily Koski (W11), plus two candidates running for open seats: Luther Ranheim (W12) and Scott Graham (W7). The PAC also gave $250 to Mayor Jacob Frey’s campaign account, although the mayor is not on the ballot in 2023.
Faith in Minnesota Fund
Organization type: Political Group/PAC
Faith 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.
Two different related funds have been active in the race. Faith in Minnesota Action has received more than $11,800 in small-dollar contributions from individuals. Faith in Minnesota Fund is listed as having received $37,000 from the organization itself. Both groups have then paid around $12,300 back to the organization for staff time spent on “general advocacy and strategy.”
In addition, Faith in Minnesota Fund has spent a little more than $2,000 on independent expenditures — spending that is less restricted but prohibited from coordinating with candidate spending — in support of Katie Cashman (W7), Aurin Chowdhury (W12) and Soren Stevenson (W8).
DFL Senior Caucus
Organization type: political group
The 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 September report, the group had raised $5,005 and had $11,764 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.
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
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 LaTrisha Vetaw (W4), Michael Rainville (W3), Emily Koski (W11), Scott Graham (W7) and Andrea Jenkins (W8), Luther Ranheim (W12) and Linea Palmisano (W13). They also contributed $1,000 to All of Mpls, which has been supporting the same slate of candidates.
The organization has spent $6,758 so far this year and has $5,570 on hand.
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, zeroing out its accounts by donating more than $15,000 to All of Mpls.
Regional 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. This year, the organization has contributed $600 each to all council incumbents seeking re-election: Elliott Payne (W1), Wonsley (W2), Michael Rainville (W3), LaTrisha Vetaw (W4), Jeremiah Ellison (W5), Jamal Osman (W6), Andrea Jenkins (W8), Jason Chavez (W9), Aisha Chughtai (W10), Emily Koski (W11) and Linea Palmisano (W13). The federation also donated to one candidate for the open seat: Aurin Chowdhury (W12).