Mayor Frey forms workgroup to help shape 'strong mayor' city structure

The November election gave Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey an increased set of powers within the city government. On Thursday, he announced he will set up a workgroup of "experts and community partners" to determine the best way to restructure the government.

In most city governments, including Minneapolis up until now, governments are structured as the "weak mayor" system, which Frey explained puts the mayor on the council and a city manager "runs the show."

Under the new "strong mayor" system, Frey will be given what he describes as a "clear executive in the mayor. You have a clear legislative body in the council, and there's an obvious understanding as to who is in charge over what."

Frey says the workgroup will help determine the best way to move forward. He anticipates the group will issue a "series of informed recommendations."

"If you look at the scope of options under this clear executive, clear legislative system, if you look at other cities Duluth, St. Paul, Chicago, New York, they all have this system, but there are important differences between them," said Frey. "Some of them have a deputy mayor system, some of them have a chief administrative officer. Some of them have an entirely different system altogether. And so what I want to see are a series of options. I want to see positives and negatives associated with each so that we're able to chart a very clear and informed path forward. Now, importantly, there's always going to be a balance between getting this right and getting this done in expedient fashion."

While, the shift to the new system will happen on December 3, meaning department leaders will begin reporting to the mayor on that date, workgroup recommendations aren't expected until early next year. Frey says those recommendations will shape the city government for the mid and long-term.

The new "strong mayor" system was approved by voters this month as a question on the election ballot.

Former council member Kathleen O’Brien and Pizza Luce Chief Executive Officer JJ Haywood will co-chair the group.

Full list of workgroup members

• Kathleen O’Brien, Vice President of University Services, University of Minnesota (retired), formerly Council Member and City Coordinator for City of Minneapolis 
• JJ Haywood, CEO, Pizza Luce
• P. Jay (Jay) Kiedrowski, Senior Fellow, Hubert H. Humphry School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota
• Pat Born, CFO, City of Minneapolis (former)
• Barry Clegg, Charter Commission, City of Minneapolis 
• Myron Frans, Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations, University of Minnesota
• Tim Marx, President Emeritus, Catholic Charities 
• Kim Nelson, Board Director, Colgate-Palmolive, Cummins Inc., and Tate & Lyle
• Pahoua Yang Hoffman, Senior Vice President of Community Impact, Minnesota Foundation
• Robert Lilligren, President and CEO, Native American Community Development Institute