Generating stronger population growth, creating jobs, addressing vexing inequities in educational achievement, and strategically building growth-oriented transit were the focus of our recent editorial series, “Growing Minneapolis.” Achieving these objectives won’t come naturally, however. Smart, collaborative public-policy decisions will make all the difference.
This is particularly true in the city’s Third Ward, which encompasses portions of downtown, Northeast, and some neighborhoods bordering the University of Minnesota.
Jacob Frey, 32, is best equipped to represent those areas and to work with other members of the City Council to craft progrowth policies that will help Minneapolis realize its potential.
Frey, an attorney and former professional marathon runner, is a clear advocate for increasing housing density within the ward and citywide. He favors the proposed streetcar line that would run north on Nicollet Avenue into Northeast, and he would expand the line into other parts of the city.
Recognizing the need to keep young families in the city once their kids are of school age, he favors creating more public-school options in burgeoning neighborhoods in his district. Keeping these families will be essential to maintaining the vitality in the North Loop and Northeast neighborhoods, which have undergone rapid transformations in the past few years.
Small businesses have also played a prominent role in this growth, and Frey wants to focus on streamlining city processes to be more “goal-oriented” than “process-oriented.”
Frey’s ambitious agenda has won many converts among voters. And its earned him endorsements from elected officials and community leaders.
He wrested the DFL endorsement from the incumbent, Diane Hofstede, 64, and gained several union endorsements. He has the support of Rep. Keith Ellison, who represents the area in Congress, as well as several key state legislators. Most notably, six sitting council members have endorsed him over their current colleague, Hofstede.
Frey’s ability to build coalitions stands in contrast to Hofstede. While she has been elected to two terms on the City Council and led the Library Board before that, she is a polarizing figure for some, including former colleagues. There has been an unusually high degree of turnover in her office, and in response to a staffer’s claim in 2010, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development determined that there had been a “hostile work environment.”
Hofstede has several key endorsements, including Gov. Mark Dayton’s, and shares several public-policy goals with Frey. She showed leadership by backing the Vikings stadium. But on other issues, she has been inconsistent, such as pushing for a moratorium on development in Dinkytown instead of leading efforts to increase investment and population in the ward.
With a new mayor and several new council members soon to be sworn in, consensus-builders are needed. Frey has been that kind of candidate, and he should be that kind of council member.
Despite only serving one term so far, Reich would be more experienced than several of his first-time council colleagues. He should use that experience to build consensus around progrowth policies.
Cam Gordon, 57, a two-term incumbent representing the Green Party, faces Diana Newberry of the Socialist Workers Party. Gordon deserves another term and, if re-elected, he should advocate for expanded transit and increased density — positions that are consistent with the environmental ethos of his party.
Four-term incumbent Barbara Johnson, 64, faces DFLer Kris Brogan and Republican candidate Dan Niesen. Johnson is the best choice for her ward, and may again be the best choice to be elected president of the City Council.
Her experience and expertise will be needed on a council sure to have several new members. She should use her position to advocate for progrowth ideas, such as riverfront redevelopment, that would not only benefit her north Minneapolis ward, but the city as a whole.