Manuel Cervantes ’74

2004 Distinguished Citizen Award

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The first of seven children in his remarkable Mexican-American family to graduate from Macalester, Manuel Cervantes was inspired by President Lyndon Johnson’s "Great Society" programs on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised. Throughout a multifaceted legal career, he has been giving back to the community. He has served as a paralegal for indigent clients, as a labor-management attorney for the American Federation of Government Employees in Minneapolis, an assistant city attorney of St. Paul, a judge on the Minnesota State Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals and as a Ramsey County District Court referee, acting as a judge in civil cases and disputes that come before juvenile and family courts.

In 2001, Mayor Randy Kelly appointed him St. Paul city attorney. Cervantes says that what motivates him is "the personal satisfaction at the end of the day that I had made the best decision possible on a particular case or that I achieved a result that was in the best interest of the citizens of St. Paul or that I managed the City’s resources in a fiscally prudent and responsible way."

Mayor Kelly declares: "I’ve know Manuel for more than 35 years, ever since we graduated from Harding High School together. And I’ve admired him all along, for his hard work and his determination to succeed. St. Paul is truly fortunate to have him as a community leader. He was my choice as city attorney and is doing an excellent job heading that office. His work ethic, paired with his involvement in the community, makes him a role model for our Latino community, and for St. Paul in general."