City Council Spotlight

A Short History of Chaska’s City Government

In 1776 Jonathan Carver explored the lands along the Minnesota River and chronicled his journeys.  French Canadian fur traders plied the waterways trading with the Dakota in the early 1800s.  During this time, Jean Baptiste Faribault established a trading post which later became Chaska.

With the signing of the Treaties of Traverse de Sioux and Mendota imminent, an Easterner named Thomas Andrew Holmes traveled up the Minnesota River.  A 20-acre clearing attracted his attention and Holmes claimed it as the Chaska town site in 1851.   The settlement operated as a township until 1871, when it became a village.  Twenty years later a city government was instituted.   Ernst Besemann served as the first Mayor of Chaska from 1891-1893.  Also at this time, the City was divided into three wards, with three representatives in each ward serving two-year terms. 

With the arrival of immigrants from Europe, a community began to develop.  Streets were laid out and a courthouse and city hall were constructed.  Schools and churches were established.  Many shops and stores opened to serve the townspeople and the farmers of the surrounding Carver County area. 

Chaska’s population boomed from 2,500 in 1960 to 8,300 in 1980, with the development of the Jonathan area.  Along with this development came a form of governance that encouraged the city organization to be “The Best Small Town in Minnesota” through support of a process of values and vision.  This vision was founded on the pursuance of positive attitude, values, and the feel of a community as a place to gather and work and call home.
Downtown Chaska in 1893
City Hall 1936
Chaska remains “The Best Small Town in Minnesota.”  A large part of that is due to community leaders stressing strong neighborhoods, local job opportunities, parks, trails, recreation and the arts, community celebrations, good schools, and especially small town values.  It is made possible by individuals and groups who share this vision. 

Now days, the City of Chaska is governed by a five member City Council consisting of a Councilmember-at-Large (Mayor) and four Councilmembers, one from each ward. The Mayor is elected every two (2) years, and two of the four Councilmembers are elected every two (2) years to four (4) year terms. Regular meetings of the City Council are held at 7:00 pm on the first, third and, if there is a fifth, Monday of each month in the Council Chambers of City Hall at One City Hall Plaza. If a regularly scheduled meeting falls on a legal holiday, the meeting is normally held at the same hour on the following Monday.
Chaska is a Statutory City and operates under the Council-Manager form of government. The City Council is the governing body of the City and possesses various legislative powers. They may exercise all the regulatory and corporate powers of a municipal corporation provided under State law.

City Council members are not full-time officials and retain their positions in their chosen professions or avocations. The Council appoints a City Administrator to be its chief administrative officer, and invests in him/her the responsibility of managing the day-to-day affairs of the City. The Council-Manager form of government has attained recognition as being the provider of the best full-time professional services in City administration when combined with the finest talents the community has to offer in its locally elected officials.

Through the decades of growth and change, Chaska has remained a community of strength and character.  The traditions of good living begun so many years ago on the banks of the Minnesota River continue to this day.

To learn more about your Councilmember, or to contact them with questions or comments, go to the City Council webpage.