New president, VP for Minneapolis City Council
A council that’s viewed as more progressive than in the past will have new leadership this year.
The Minneapolis City Council held its organizational meeting on Monday morning — a week after members were sworn in — and picked Elliott Payne and Aisha Chughtai as the new president and vice president, respectively. Council members Andrea Jenkins and Linea Palmisano held the positions last year and remain on the council.
Payne and Chughtai were nominated by the two newcomers to the council — Katie Cashman and Aurin Chowdhury.
Last year, the council and mayor’s office struggled to unify on some key topics as the year went on. That will again be something to watch throughout 2024 when public safety and a rideshare ordinance are again expected to be key issues.
Chughtai won the vice presidency by two votes over the more experienced Ward 4 Councilmember LaTrisha Vetaw, who was nominated by former Vice President Linea Palmisano.
“I feel strongly we need a balanced council,” Palmisano said.
Payne and Chughtai have a combined four years of council experience. Both were recently elected for a second term.
“It’s very exciting specifically to see us elect Aisha Chughtai as vice president and just thinking about someone who identifies as a socialist ran as a socialist,” said Ward 2 Councilmember Robin Wonsley in an interview after the council meeting.
Wonsley also acknowledged that this council has a new, more progressive majority that leans her way.
“And I think that’s just a testament to how widely supported this vision is,” she said of the Democratic Socialist platform.
It’s not a veto-proof majority though, and there’s already been some division between the council faction and Mayor Jacob Frey’s office.
Kicking off the new term, Wonsley said she’s open to compromise but it’s not her first priority.
“I think, you know, of course, be open to the conversations,” she said. “But we shouldn’t shy away from bringing the strongest proposal forward for the sake of compromise.”
Wonsley said her first goal for the new year is to pass a minimum wage ordinance for rideshare drivers in Minneapolis. She also wants to focus on revamping empty storefronts and residential units throughout the city, and her third highest priority was continued work on climate equity.
That was also a top goal for former City Council President Andrea Jenkins when she interviewed with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS last Monday.
Like Wonsley, Jenkins said she believes the council as a whole has similar goals, and it’s the way to achieve them that differs. “But,” she said, “in my mind, the only way we move forward as a democracy is to compromise.”
Payne and Mayor Frey, in their inaugural addresses on Monday, both shared commitments to working together.