The Minneapolis City Council on Thursday overwhelmingly ratified the appointment of public works director and former Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher to become one of the city's top nonelected officials.

Mayor Jacob Frey nominated Anderson Kelliher in November to become city operations officer, a cabinet post that oversees the bulk of city operations outside of police and fire.

The council's 11-2 vote followed plaudits from a parade of past and current colleagues during a public hearing this week. They described the political veteran as a trailblazing bridge-builder whose hefty résumé made her especially qualified to take on the role.

State Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, recalled how Anderson Kelliher took him under his wing and helped him navigate the Capitol when he was an organizer for Clean Water Action and she was a legislative aide in the early 1990s. Years later, he voted for her as speaker in 2007.

"She did not disappoint," Hornstein said, describing her ability to unify the various elements of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor caucus.

Council members said they hoped Anderson Kelliher would play a similar bridging role in the sometimes-tense relationship between the mayor's office and some on the council.

Council Member Aisha Chughtai said she wasn't always a fan of Anderson Kelliher, especially when it came to divisive issues such as a planned demolition of the abandoned Roof Depot in the East Phillips neighborhood. But Chughtai said she believes Anderson Kelliher found ways to forge ahead while respecting disagreements.

"I have seen you be someone one who's willing to roll up your sleeves," Chughtai told Anderson Kelliher before Thursday's vote. "You're willing to be the adult in the room."

One dissenting vote came from Council Members Robin Wonsley, who cited the Roof Depot issue and others on which she and Anderson Kelliher differed. The second was by Jamal Osman, who criticized her for not removing parking meters near Karmel Mall.

Since 2022, Anderson Kelliher has served as the city's public works director. Before that, she was the state's transportation commissioner under Gov. Tim Walz. She also served 12 years in the state House, including four as speaker, and ran for governor in 2010 and Congress in 2018.

The city operations officer oversees 17 departments, including public works, civil rights, 311, health, and a host of internal operations, such as human resources and information technology. The position carries a salary range of $278,000 to $330,000 a year, and is new, a result of a voter-approved restructuring of city government, but similar to the previous position of city coordinator.