Mayor Dave Kleis was first elected mayor of St. Cloud, Minnesota in November 2005. He was reelected in 2008, 2012, and 2016 all while running unopposed. On November 20, 2018 Mayor Kleis became the longest serving Mayor in St. Cloud’s history. He is recognized in the St. Cloud community as a local historian, a visionary, and an influential leader. He was selected in 2010 by the St. Cloud Time’s readers and area leaders as the most influential person of the last decade, in 2014 he received the League of Minnesota Cities C.C. Ludwig Leadership Award and was recognized as one of Twin Cities Business’ 100 People to Know in 2018.
Mayor Kleis grew up in a small farming community of Litchfield, Minnesota. He graduated from Litchfield High School and later graduated Magna Cum Laude from St. Cloud State University with a degree in Political Science and History. He is a nine (9) year veteran of the United States Air Force and Air Force Reserve. He became interested in politics while he was stationed at the
Pentagon and acted as an Air Force liaison with Capitol Hill in D.C. He was elected to the Minnesota State Senate in 1994 and served for 11 years. He has established and owns the Central Minnesota Driving Academy since 1991, a driver’s education business in St. Cloud. When not advocating for the city or running his driving academy, Mayor Kleis travels throughout the world, having visited 116 different countries.
Over the years, Mayor Kleis has served on many public committees, including co-chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Government Financing. He is also a founding member and co-chair of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative. He has built lasting relationships with other cities including Hattiesburg, Mississippi, St. Cloud’s Sister City Saint Cloud, France, and St. Cloud’s Sister City of Spalt, Germany. Four times he has assembled a team of city officials and community members to compete in the annual International Awards for Liveable Communities. This competition is the world’s only awards competition focusing on international best practices regarding the
management of the local environment. St. Cloud was a finalist each time, receiving a Gold Award as the most livable city in 2007. In 2019, St. Cloud gained global recognition again as it won the top title – Whole City, Category C – for cities with a daytime population of 75,001 to 150,000. In addition to the Whole City Award, St. Cloud was presented first place in three criteria awards: Enhancement of the Landscape and Public Spaces; Arts, Culture and Heritage Management; and Community Participation and Empowerment. These were judged across all population categories.
Mayor Dave Kleis is the City of St. Cloud’s most enthusiastic supporter taking every opportunity to create a sense of community, to instill pride in citizenship, and to create a high quality of life for the people of the city, region, and the state of Minnesota. He understands that a thriving community is comprised of many organizations and governments intertwined in partnership. Further, he promotes the city as a central component for providing an atmosphere for people, organizations, and business to flourish.