Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin



"The Phillips Partnership has provided innovative solutions to the difficult problems that have hampered the Phillips Neighborhood for far too long. Its ongoing mission is to build on the improvements that have been achieved to make an even better neighborhood in which to live and work.

"The only way to get ‘big things’ done is through strategic partnerships. Through many initiatives I’ve learned that it is essential to mobilize in a focused, coordinated way the strengths and capacities of the public and private sectors, and the community. It takes clear, bold vision, workable strategies grounded in reality, the will and skill to implement them, and a deep-seated optimism in the face of barriers and cynicism. The Phillips Partnership is the latest and best example of using this approach to tackling seemingly intractable problems. And it’s working!”



  • Commissioner, Hennepin County Board of Commissioners. 
  • Chair, Hennepin County Regional Rail Authority.
  • Chair, Metro Transitways Development Board, active proponent of multi-modal regional transportation investment to support economic growth and strong communities in the future.
  • Chair, Social Services Committee.
  • Member, all committees of Hennepin County Board. 



  • Coordinated the successful regional effort with the help of labor, business and community in lobbying for light-rail transit (LRT) funding. 
  • Founding member of the Phillips Partnership—a public/private partnership created to target the problems that were plaguing the neighborhood. Successful efforts include: crime-fighting initiatives that have reduced crime dramatically in the neighborhood; Train to Work, providing entry level jobs in the neighborhood and the Health Careers Institute, providing college level training program for jobs in local hospitals and other health-related positions that gives students advanced skills and higher paying employment; the Selvaggio Initiative and other housing efforts that have built or rehabbed hundreds of units in the Phillips Neighborhood; progress on creating full access to I-35W from Lake St. to connect the local residents and businesses to the interstate system and support Lake St. The broader results include huge private sector investments in the neighborhood, including Wells Fargo Mortgage, the new Abbott Northwestern heart hospital (under construction) and the Allina headquarters move to the old Sears building (in development stage).
  • Founding member of the Midtown Community Works Partnership, a public/private collaborative effort that addresses the issues facing the Midtown Community. The Partnership has been instrumental in keeping the Midtown Greenway on track.
  • Helped win approval for several actions to combat crime, including: expanded use of juvenile work squads and adult Sentencing To Serve work crews; funding for four special neighborhood-based probation officers for South and North Minneapolis; creation of a drug court building new jail cells; additional juvenile detention beds; putting inmates to work and working closely with the District Court on the Adult Gun Policy and the Juvenile Gun Education Program.
  • Authored the County action to establish the American Indian Family project, directing a study of the American Indian population in Hennepin County in partnership with other governmental and community based organization, for the purpose of producing an in-depth analysis and making recommendations to the county board on how to effectively address systemic issues in the American Indian community.
  • Expansion of youth recreational opportunities (baseball, softball, volleyball and football; soccer next on the agenda) through the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board, Minneapolis Public Schools and Minneapolis Park and Recreation.
  • Promoted Community building efforts which include: Sabathani - Helping Families Help Themselves; American Indian Community Collaborative (AICC); STRIDE Project in Hawthorne; CAPS Program - Community Alternative Probation; Commonweal (Currency Exchange Network)
  • County Board advocate for the Hennepin/Powderhorn Partners, a partnership to coordinate probation, employment, education, social services and residents of the neighborhood in a community office on Lake Street office. They take a holistic and strength based approach to addressing the diverse needs of individuals and their families.
    Increased County staff to expedite the adoption process. This has resulted in the faster adoption of children as well as greatly reduced foster care costs. Quicker adoptions benefit the parents, taxpayers and, most importantly, the children.
  • Expanded training opportunities for childcare workers to increase the emphasis on early childhood development, scholarships to assist workers in gaining college-level training, and salary supplements to increase wages and retention of workers.
  • Initiated creation of community service jobs in neighborhoods. Launched county cooperation in with an enterprise of private small business and non-profit agencies to provide transportation for unemployed city residents to suburban jobs, a model of reverse commute.
  • Led reforms of county budgeting process that now give staff direction from the Board of Commissioners and the public early, before decisions are made, through strategic planning, clearer goal setting, the county’s first mission and vision statements, and creation of Town Meetings for public dialogue.
  • Initiated creation of Five Year Strategic Financial Plan as a budgeting tool to give better information as basis for longer term planning.
  • Slowed growth of government and held county property tax increases to cost of living or less since joining the Board.
  • Initiated major evaluation effort to review all county operations and contracts with a goal of measuring the success of activities and to ensure the most productive use of tax dollars.
  • Dramatically increased funding for sliding fee child care.
  • Led development of Hennepin County Solid Waste Master Plan, nationally recognized for its well-integrated, environmentally protective and fiscally sound management.
  • Led efforts to open Stone Arch Bridge for use by citizens through successful partnership with city and state governments. Participated in bridge renovation and interpretive trails development.
  • Made the county a full partner in the Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) and advocated for its continuation during efforts in 2003 to eliminate or drastically curtail it. 
  • Strong advocate for expansion of backyard composters and creation of plastic bag recycling effort with private sector through the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board.
  • Expanded resources and support for volunteers in Hennepin County.
    Substantial ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) improvements to County
  • Introduced successful amendment to expand staff of County Veteran’s Service Office, resulting in the hiring of the first African American Veterans Service Officer.
  • Helped to develop comprehensive County bicycle transportation plan. Provided county funding for 29th Street Greenway, a bike trail and green space that will run from France Avenue to the Mississippi River. Initiated process to identify key gaps in the bicycle trail network in the county and provided annual funding to fill the gaps.
  • Insisted on County investment in new mercury emissions technology for garbage burner/resource recovery facility (HERC), resulting in a 90-percent reduction.



  • Steering Committee Member, National Association of Counties (NACo) Large Urban Counties Caucus
  • Chair, Metro Transitways Development Board (MTDB)
  • Member, Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Plan (NRP) Policy Board
  • Executive Committee Member, Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board (YCB)
  • Member, Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board (SWMCB)
  • Member, Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee (CJCC)
  • Member, Joint Committee on Community Corrections (Bench Board)
  • Member, St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board
  • Member, Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) Board and Legislative Steering Committee
  • Member, NACo Medicare Reform Task Force
  • Committee Member, NACo Community & Economic Development Steering Committee
  • Finance Chair, National Democratic County Officials
  • NACo Joint Center for Sustainable Development Task Force



  • Founding Member, Phillips Partnership
  • Founding Member, Midtown Community Works Partnership
  • Member, Green Institute Capitol Campaign Committee
  • Chair, Health Careers Institute Board
  • Chair & Founding Member, Phillips Community Energy Cooperative
  • Co-chair, Minneapolis American Indian Center Capital Campaign
  • Member, CLUES Capital Campaign Committee
  • Member, Project for Pride in Living (PPL) Capital Campaign Committee



  • Committee Member, NACo Presidential Task Force on Economic Development
  • Committee Member, NACo Homeland Security Task Force
  • Chair, Healthy Powderhorn Community Resource
  • Member and past Chair, PRG, a non-profit housing development corporation
  • President, Association of Minnesota Counties
  • Chair, National Association of Counties (NACo) Large Urban Counties Caucus
  • Member, Board of Directors of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts
  • Member, Native American Task Force, Association of Minnesota Counties
  • Member, Board of Directors of Harriet Tubman Shelter for Battered Women
  • Member, City/County Homelessness Task Force (Singles and Youth)
  • Member, Capitol Campaign Committee, Little Earth Neighborhood Early Learning Center
  • Member, Capital Campaign Committee, Midtown YWCA



  • Enactment of first state parental leave law in the United States providing unpaid leave to new mothers and fathers at the time of the birth or adoption of a child.
  • Funding ($27m) for state public and private sector jobs program (MEED) to combat severe job losses and recession



  • Hennepin County Commissioner, 1991-present
  • Chair, Hennepin County Board, 1995-1996
  • Community Faculty Member, Metropolitan State University, 1980-1994
  • Minnesota State Representative, 1985-1990, House Assistant Majority Leader
  • Executive Director, Minneapolis Community Business Employment Alliance, 
  • Research and Operations Director, Urban Coalition of Minneapolis, 1977-1983
  • Intern, Minneapolis Planning Department, 1975-77
  • Aide to the Mayor, Trenton, N.J., 1972-1975
  • M.A., Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, 1977
  • A.B., Princeton University, 1971