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The balance of power between Minneapolis' mayor and city council will undergo a dramatic shift, after the city's voters approved a charter amendment that will reorganize the structure of the government.

Ballot Question 1, often referred to as the "strong mayor" amendment, had garnered 52.49% "Yes" votes as of 9:30 p.m., with 133 of 136 precincts reporting. Those opposed totaled 47.51%. Ballot questions require at least 51% of the vote to pass.

It will go into effect in 30 days.

The question's approval upends a system often described as "weak mayor, strong council," with council members and the Executive Committee having a weighty say in actions such as appointing or removing most department heads. (The one exception is the Minneapolis Police Department, over which the mayor, under city charter.)

This charter amendment changes the function of these roles, explicitly defining the mayor as the city's chief executive, with full administrative control over city departments. It simultaneously lessens the power of the city council, which is now tasked with legislative responsibilities. The Executive Committee, made up of select council members and the mayor, will also cease to exist.

The city's judge-appointed Charter Commission recommended the ballot question, after a working group report found the current structure inefficient and potentially confusing. 

Those who supported the change said it would lead to more logical operations, streamlining and clarifying the responsibilities of the mayor and council members akin to the structure seen in many other major cities, including St. Paul. 

But those who were against this consolidation of power argued the amendment will do little to address one of the key issues the city is facing in public safety, as the charter already vests the mayor with full control over that department. In addition, it deadens the voices of many voters, particularly those in disadvantaged communities who may only have representation through their council member.

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