Mayor Chris Coleman brings a wealth of experience to the office of mayor — as a lifelong Saint Paul resident, a community and neighborhood leader, an attorney, an investment advisor and a city councilmember. Chris was born one of seven kids in a classic Saint Paul Irish-American family, and has made his home in many of our city’s great neighborhoods. After attending St. Luke’s elementary school, he graduated from Cretin High School and obtained a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. His mother, Bridget Finnegan, grew up at University and Farrington and operated an Irish imports store. His father, the late Nick Coleman, Sr., born and raised in Frogtown, was a longtime Minnesota state senator. He was a champion for human rights, economic and social justice and progressive causes as the first DFL Majority Leader of the Minnesota Senate.
Upon graduation from the University of Minnesota Law School, Chris worked for a decade as a public defender and prosecutor before going into private practice. Then a resident of Frogtown, Chris served as president of the Thomas–Dale District Council before winning election to the Saint Paul City Council, serving Ward 2. While on the Council, Chris was a strong advocate for public safety, affordable housing and the environment. He worked concurrently as an investment-management consultant with RBC Dain Rauscher until he was elected mayor on November 8, 2005.
Chris Coleman became the 45th mayor of Saint Paul on January 3, 2006. Since taking office, he has changed the tone in our city to one of openness and cooperation. Chris has told Saint Paulites the truth about the challenges our city faces, opened the doors of the Mayor’s Office back up to the people, listened to those with differing viewpoints, and made space at the table for everyone who wants to work together to move Saint Paul forward.
Closing the education gap for children is at the core of Mayor Coleman’s agenda. Mayor Coleman’s Early Childhood Learning initiative, Second Shift out-of-school-time initiative, and efforts to improve access to college information, resources and scholarships, among others, are creating a new role for city government in public education. He has marshaled the best minds and resources to enrich the lives of children by extending social and academic opportunities beyond the traditional school day and ensuring that children can access those opportunities. In so doing, he has opened new horizons of economic and social opportunity and improved the well-being and safety of Saint Paul’s families — particularly in communities of color and historically disenfranchised neighborhoods.
Mayor Coleman is growing Saint Paul’s economy, engaging leaders in business, community development, government and transportation to create corridors of opportunity that will change the face of Saint Paul. At the center of his vision for Saint Paul is the successful construction of light rail transit in the Central Corridor. Mayor Coleman and other visionaries see light rail as the linchpin of an economic-development and community-revitalization effort that will make Minnesota’s Capital City the center of a multimodal transportation system for the Metro region. Mayor Coleman has also played a critical role in bringing 21st-century jobs to Saint Paul, with Microsoft, Cray Research, and Internet Broadcast Systems. Under his leadership, sustainable, new economic development is taking place both in downtown and in neighborhoods across Saint Paul like Rice Street and the East Side. Mayor Coleman has been a relentless advocate for public safety and is committed to building police, fire, and emergency-management services that provide world-class service to all Saint Paul residents. The mayor’s dedication to public safety is matched by his commitment to protecting the environment where Saint Paulites live, work, and play, including by honoring the Mississippi River as the lifeblood of the historic river city. Chris Coleman has also made a priority of nurturing the soul of Saint Paul by aggressively promoting our theaters, clubs, museums, parks, libraries and diverse cultural life.
Stable fiscal management has been the hallmark of all of Mayor Coleman’s efforts to serve Saint Paul’s children, residents, families and visitors. Under his leadership, Saint Paul closed a multi-year structural budget deficit and now measures value the way most families do — by long-term return on investment. He has worked in partnership with the City Council to reform, improve and consolidate city services despite the State’s ever-shrinking commitment to a strong economy, public safety and quality of life in Saint Paul. Under Mayor Coleman, Saint Paul residents are receiving better services at a better price, while sound fiscal practices mean that the City retains its high credit ratings — saving taxpayers money.
Chris and his wife of 25 years, Connie, live on the West Side, where they raised with their two children, Molly and Aidan.