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Precedent opposes council-to-mayor ascension

Posted by: Steve Brandt under Politics and government Updated: January 2, 2013 - 2:53 PM
Mayor Marvin Kline

Mayor Marvin Kline

What do Hussein Samatar, Mark Andrew, Jackie Cherryhomes, Tom Hoch and Bob Fine have going for them as declared or potential mayoral candidates that Betsy Hodges, Gary Schiff and Don Samuels lack?

Precedent.

Except for the recent example of Sharon Sayles Belton, nobody has been elected mayor directly from the City Council since 1941.

Marvin Kline was the last person to achieve that feat, going as did Sayles Belton from City Council president to mayor.
 
Here’s how the mayors since then have arrived: Hubert Humphrey was a University of Minnesota instructor; Eric Hoyer was on the City Council but gained the mayor’s seat without an election when Humphrey quit to join the U.S. Senate;  P. Kenneth Peterson was a lawyer and former legislator;  Art Naftalin was previously commissioner of administration; Charles Stenvig was a police detective; Albert Hofstede was a former council member who was serviing as Metropolitan Council chair; and Rybak was an internet consultant and activist against airport noise.

The above comes courtesy of Tony Hill, the University of Minnesota Duluth political scientist who maintains a Minneapolis history web site.  

Of course the path to the mayoralty has changed a lot since Kline was elected.  The job is a four-year term, shifted from two years in 1981.  The election is held in November, not June, a  1973 change.

Maybe the biggest change in how mayors are selected has yet to be fully appreciated because Rybak was so overwhelmingly reelected in 2009.  That’s the switch to ranked-choice voting, which means no primary, and the possibility in a crowded field that the next mayor may be elected on the second-choice votes if no one gains 50 percent on first choices.

Kline was bounced from office when Humphrey campaigned on ridding City Hall of corruption, and later was convicted of grand larceny in his job as executive director of the Sister Kenny Institute.     
 

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