Arthur Naftalin (June 28, 1917 – May 16, 2005) was an American political scientist and politician. A member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL), he served as mayor of Minneapolis from July 3, 1961, to July 6, 1969. He was the first and only Jewish mayor of Minneapolis.

Naftalin was born in Fargo, North Dakota, one of four children of Sandel and Tillie Naftalin. He was married to Frances Healy Naftalin; among their children is Mark Naftalin, a musician.

Naftalin came to Minneapolis to attend the University of Minnesota, from which he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1939 and a Ph.D. in 1948. His dissertation was a history of the Farmer-Labor Party of Minnesota. During this time, he became acquainted with Hubert Humphrey and helped Humphrey lead the merger of Minnesota's Democratic and Farmer-Labor parties into the DFL in 1944.

In 1945, Humphrey was elected mayor and Naftalin was appointed to work in his office. Naftalin later became a professor in the department of political science at the University of Minnesota. He served as commissioner of administration under Governor Orville L. Freeman.

In 1961, he won the first of his four two-year terms as mayor. He attended the 1963 March on Washington and was present at Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech. He ran for the DFL endorsement for lieutenant governor in 1966. In 1967, he had to call in the National Guard to quell unrest. Naftalin declined to seek re-election in 1969, becoming the only mayor of Minneapolis from the period 1913–1979 who never resigned or lost an election. Naftalin was succeeded by Charlie Stenvig, a police officer with no previous political experience who promised a "law and order" approach to any future civil unrest.

After leaving office, Naftalin became a professor in the department of public affairs at the University of Minnesota (now the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs). In 1971, he joined the Board of Directors of the Citizens League, and served as President of the Board in 1975–1976. From 1976 to 1987, he produced and hosted 500 installments of Minnesota Issues, a weekly public-affairs program on local public television station KTCA. He also produced, wrote, and narrated a series of one-hour television documentaries about former Minnesota governors in 1980. He retired in 1987.

On the morning of May 16, 2005, Naftalin struck his head in a fall. He went into a coma and died later in the day at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. He donated his body to the University of Minnesota for research.


Political offices
Preceded by
P. Kenneth Peterson
Mayor of Minneapolis
Succeeded by
Charles Stenvig