Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges hewed to a familiar message in her first State of the City address Thursday, saying the city cannot expand to a half-million people unless citizens of all incomes, neighborhoods and races benefit from the growth.
Her speech at the Minneapolis American Indian Center featured no surprises and hammered the themes she has highlighted since coming into office: helping the city to grow, ending disparities between whites and people of color, and running the city well.
“If we bench our entire infield, there is no way we are going to win this game,” she said. “Some of us are still playing — we have a pitcher, perhaps, and an outfield, and we can cobble together some kind of team, but there is no way we are going to the playoffs, let alone win the World Series, if we keep our players on the bench.”
Hodges said Minneapolis will hire nearly 100 new police officers in the next year and is making sure that the force will increasingly look like the city it serves.
The mayor said she has asked City Attorney Susan Segal to review regulatory codes that make it harder for people to invest in Minneapolis. She added that those regulations and small-business support programs are not designed for the Somali-American business owners who own small market stalls in malls, and that the assistance these entrepreneurs — particularly women — could have is falling through the cracks.
Hodges talked up just how great Minneapolis is but lamented that nobody knows it. In order for Minneapolis to grow, she said, its citizens cannot afford to be modest.
“We must shout out from the rooftops that Minneapolis is the best place on Earth,” she said.
Hodges announced that the week of July 14-20 would be “the Best Week of Bragging About Minneapolis Ever,” showcasing the best of the city and using social media to promote it.
In a nod to American Indians in the audience, the mayor also voiced support for a resolution that the City Council is set to vote on Friday that recognizes Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Throughout the speech, Hodges called out many of the 13 council members by name. But she did not mention four who recently opposed her nomination of some department heads: Council Members Jacob Frey, Cam Gordon, Andrew Johnson and Blong Yang. Yang and Gordon voted against her nomination of Segal as city attorney, and Yang, Frey and Johnson voted no on her nomination of Velma Korbel to head the Civil Rights Department.
“It was called to my attention but I don’t think anything of it,” Frey said afterward. “I’m sure it was not intentional. The mayor did a great job today.”
Mayoral spokeswoman Kate Brickman said in an e-mail that Hodges can’t thank every person in every speech, adding, “There will be plenty of other opportunities to recognize people’s accomplishments.”