The Mayor and the City Council
Like most American cities, St. Paul is governed by a Mayor and a City Council.
The whole city votes to elect the Mayor. The Mayor is the chief executive and chief administrative officer for the city. The Mayor appoints and dismisses department heads, prepares a proposed city budget for approval by the City Council, and signs or vetoes legislative ordinance passed by the City Council.
The City Council, made of seven members, is the legislative body. St. Paul is divided into seven wards of roughly equal populations, who elect one council member each. The City Council administers the actual city budget, which is based on the Mayor's proposed budget. The Mayor selects department heads, but all appointments must be approved by the City Council.
The City Council creates all of the St. Paul's city legislative ordinance. Four votes from the seven members are needed to create a piece of ordinance. The ordinance is then presented to the Mayor to sign or veto. If the Mayor does veto the legislation, the council may override it if five of the seven members vote to do so.
Both the Mayor and the City Council members, serve four year terms in office.
St Paul's Neighborhoods and District Councils
As well as the standard mayor and council, St. Paul is governed by a unique neighborhood system. The city is divided into seventeen city districts, each governed by a district council. The districts mostly correspond to St. Paul's traditional neighborhoods, but with some variations, especially in the newer parts of the city.
The councils are run by a board of directors. Each director is elected for a two year term.
The district councils receive some funding from the city, but are mostly independent of the city's mayor and city council. The councils have powers over zoning and land use, traffic and parking, recycling, crime prevention, parks and recreation, and various community issues.
District councils plan road building, improvements and repair and don't always talk to neighboring Districts, which explains why some roads in St. Paul sometimes change names without warning. Residents of Minneapolis often start pulling their hair out if they have to leave their sensible road system and drive into eccentric St. Paul.
State and Federal Government
St. Paul is the state capital of Minnesota.
The Minnesota Supreme Court meets in the state capitol in downtown St. Paul. The Minnesota house office buildings are also in the city.
The Minnesota Governor's Residence is on Summit Avenue, just west of downtown.
St. Paul is located in Minnesota's fourth congressional district. The senate office building is in St. Paul.