By Maya Rao and Eric Roper
In describing her mayoral campaign as a choice between returning to a troubled past or moving toward a brighter future, Council Member Betsy Hodges took a surprising dig at today’s DFL convention at rival Jackie Cherryhomes, who was City Council president in the 1990s.
“Will we go back to the 90s, when elected officials thought our city had so little to offer that people and businesses would only come here with a subsidy?” Hodges asked. “No, we will not. Because I have to tell you, the first time I ever stepped foot in City Hall was 1998, 1999, somewhere in there. I was there with Progressive Minnesota to protest the big public development deal that became Block E. It was infuriating. Why were we acting like Minneapolis had to beg? Why were we acting like big corporate subsidies would save our city?”
Cherryhomes, who will speak shortly at the convention, had advanced the redevelopment of Block E.
Hodges continued: “Block E did not save us. Business owners who has been here for generations and weathered the storm saved us. Latino and East African immigrants investing on Lake Street saved us. Electing city leaders who got our financial house in order saved us. And yes, leaving the false choices of 90s behind and truly entering the 21st Century saved us.”
UPDATE: Cherryhomes and former mayor Sharon Sayles Belton both appeared to respond to Hodges' comments during their address to delegates.
"I want to tell you with no embarrassment whatsoever that the investments of the past have laid the foundation for our future," Sayles Belton said.
Cherryhomes noted that during her tenure, they created the neighborhood revitalization program, the police civilian review authority and built a “vibrant, thriving downtown.”
“Much of what we did was excellent, was very very good. And I am very proud of it,” Cherryhomes said. “Sure we made some mistakes, everyone makes some mistakes. But I have chosen to learn from those mistakes and to do better the next time.”
Hodges also used her struggles with drinking and smoking as a metaphor for how she would make solid decisions when facing a crossroads.
“I have faced one of my own,” she said.
“Twenty-four years ago, I was 19 years old, sitting alone in my room with a bottle of bourbon and a pack of cigarettes, the same as I had been doing for days and for weeks and for months,” Hodges said. “And I had a choice: I could keep repeating my miserable past or I could put the bottle down, face my demons, and head into a brighter future. I’m proud to say that for 24 years I have chosen a bright future every day.”