Minneapolis is a quickly expanding, progressive and complicated city with a population that projects its diversity and core values. Incumbent Mayor Betsy Hodges has had control of the reigns since 2014, and she is facing a challenging group of opponents. The last four years have been riddled with both bad and good for the city, and the crop of candidates come ready to tackle many main issues, including police reform, affordable housing and immigrant communities. Come Nov. 7, it will be time for Minneapolis residents to choose a mayor that will guide the city for the next four years, and every candidate seems hungry to tackle Minneapolis’ problems and guide the city into a bigger and brighter future.
The biggest issues facing the city are far from simple, and the need for solutions has been a long time coming. Lack of housing, as the city continues to grow, has been a concern for years, yet it has never been more concerning than it is right now. However, having more housing that is too expensive for potential renters does nothing and concerns of gentrification would not be stifled. Policing has been under more and more scrutiny after several police-related shootings and increased community tensions. Hodges’ relationship with the police has been less than desirable, and the need for some type of reform has never been more relevant. The issues should have been tackled long ago.
Of all the mayoral candidates, we believe that Jacob Frey is the most aptly positioned to continue the many positive reforms in Minneapolis and more effectively advocate for the city. We urge Minneapolis voters to select him as their first-ranked choice for mayor on Nov. 7. Frey is a 36-year-old city council member that currently represents Ward 3. Before becoming a council member in 2014, he practiced civil rights and business law and fundraised extensively for organizations advocating for marriage equality.
As a council member, Frey worked relentlessly as a consensus builder, bringing people of all political affiliations together to enact change. He has a history of working with both sides of any issue to find a common, agreeable middle ground. This willingness will help him to not only tackle immediate issues, but more systemic problems across the city that require legislative backing for change. Frey’s plan to address police reform and public safety has also been the most robust plan during the mayoral race. It clearly balances the pragmatic responsibilities of a mayor while setting into play a long list of innovative and achievable ideas. It correctly emphasizes mental health training and prioritizes increasing the number of officers in the police force, which will help ensure more time for officers to engage with the communities they serve while still patrolling the streets to keep us safe. Frey also has vast experiences with affordable housing units. The empowerment of community organizations in the Marcy-Holmes community have been an important check against developers. His past successes will continue to help guide his capacity to effectively advocate for the city of Minneapolis and bring more affordable housing opportunities.
As a mayor, we believe Frey will be very accessible. Even as a council member, Frey has been very engaged and responsive to dialogue from his constituency. We believe that this is not a ploy to pander votes, but a part of who he is as an individual. We hope this will continue with his actions as mayor, and will help increase the power the mayor has to truly represent the views of the constituency they serve.
The last four years, although riddled with some missteps, have proven to be good years for the city, and for this reason, we have Betsy Hodges as our second-ranked choice candidate. Minneapolis has done well under Hodges and her experience in City Hall sets her apart from many of her opponents.
It is often easy to scrutinize the incumbent because there is ample evidence. Hodges' past relationship with the police has been rocky and complicated; that is clear. Despite several police related shootings and mishaps, Hodges failed to act in full until very late. Communication between the former Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau and Hodges seemed to fail, and it is a reasonable concern that that may happen again. Hodges and her plans for affordable housing, policing reform and police-community relations are heading in the right direction; this is the reason she is ranked above other candidates. However, these developments happened late in her term and we constantly asked ourselves why this was so. Hodges' plans for the future are bright and full of optimism — her recommendation for the new Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria "Rondo" Arradondo was well received and is close to a unanimous positive for the city. We hope that she may accomplish these goals, however, we could not overlook the reasons these goals were not accomplished earlier.
Raymond Dehn, the current state representative of District 59B in Minneapolis, was our third-ranked choice candidate. Dehn, a former alumnus of the University of Minnesota, has had tremendous support amongst students. We sincerely commend him for his grassroots campaign and passion to involve more students in the local election process. However, his comments about demilitarizing the police appear overly far-fetched in terms of realistic policy. Dehn’s platform is also largely based on very progressive values. While progressive campaigns respond to the frustration that many have against the current federal administration, they can overshadow the changes that a mayor can realistically impose on a city once in power. Given his clear platform as “the most progressive” mayoral candidate, we believe that Dehn would simply not have the capacity to build a bipartisan coalition in all levels of government to improve Minneapolis. This should not undermine his evident impact on Minneapolis local politics. His resolve to involve students and past experience as a state representative make him a strong third choice on our ballot for the mayoral race.
Nekima Levy-Pounds wasn't on our ranked-choice ballot for several reasons, with the most prominent being a lack of elected experience within the city or elsewhere. Levy-Pounds has decades of experience organizing, teaching and leading law programs at St. Thomas University and collaborating with other Minneapolis organizations and leaders. Unfortunately, we found other candidates' elected experience either in the state or in City Hall to be one of the most valuable assets. Regardless, Levy-Pounds seems to grasp the cities needs well and her work with police, the Minneapolis NAACP and other civil rights movements makes her a unique leader and important voice in Minneapolis politics.
Tom Hoch was our other candidate left off our ranked-choice ballot. As with Levy-Pounds, our want for elected experience deterred the ranking of Hoch. Although Hoch's experience in Minneapolis business outshines most of his opponents, we felt that many of his policies lacked depth. Hoch seemed to attack the main issues confronting the city of Minneapolis very one-dimensionally. We found that many candidates covered these topics better and expressed more comprehensive plans.
These are our thoughts about the five candidates we interviewed. Among the other 11 candidates for mayor include Aswar Rahman and Al Flowers.
Overall, we believe that Jacob Frey has the requisite experience in City Hall, as well as the comprehensive policy, city connections and charisma to foster the city into a bright future. While his policies aren’t as far progressive as those of Dehn and Levy-Pounds, we believe he offers a realistic opportunity for Minneapolis to improve for the better. Minneapolis is a sparkling Midwestern city, and hopefully, the glaring problems could lesson under the tenure of a new mayor. Of course, we wish every candidate the best and, regardless of whom the victor may be on election day, we hope the city will be in better place come the next election cycle.