Minneapolis is a great city, but we can be better. We must be better. We have issues to address, and I would argue that we need a new vision and new leadership to address them.
That’s why I’m running for mayor.
Make no mistake, I love Minneapolis. A lifelong resident, I am deeply grateful for all Minneapolis has given me. A great place to live and raise a family. Vibrant and engaging neighborhoods across a diverse, progressive community.
Minneapolis is and has been a progressive beacon. We’re home to Fortune 500 companies as well as emerging industries.
We were a place where great things happened.
We were also affordable and safe.
But in the last four years, Minneapolis has taken a different trajectory. Crime is up; arrests are down. Trust in our police force is also down. Many Minneapolis residents don’t feel as safe in their neighborhoods.
We face the largest income disparities between white residents and communities of color in the nation. We have fewer affordable housing options, and the housing we do have is getting less affordable every day. We haven’t created a new Fortune 500 company in 40 years, and many that remain face strong headwinds.
Despite a stated commitment to ending homelessness, more Minneapolitans spend their nights in shelters or on the streets than a decade ago.
Meanwhile, Minneapolis property taxes are up over 20 percent the past four years, and they are slated to rise an additional 31 percent over the next five.
Minneapolis, we can do better.
I’ve been a Minneapolis public school teacher. I’ve managed our city’s affordable public housing program, bringing over $100 million to address a history of discrimination in public housing and setting the stage for new, mixed-income communities. I fought Congress to create public housing specifically for seniors. Thousands of low-income seniors live in peace and dignity here and across the country because of this change.
Yet our Minneapolis Public Housing Authority remains chronically underfunded, with a $127 million backlog in necessary capital improvements and maintenance. These public buildings are on the verge of falling apart, threatening the stability and security of some of our most vulnerable neighbors. The MPHA needs a strong advocate, and I will be that advocate as mayor.
Leading with vision is important. In saving Minneapolis’ historic theaters, and in founding the Hennepin Theatre Trust, I saw the potential of our downtown. Today, our State, Orpheum and Pantages theaters bring nearly half a million people downtown annually, creating hundreds of jobs and generating nearly $500 million in economic activity over the past decade. As mayor, I’ll bring that kind of progressive vision and “get things done” approach to City Hall.
We created the Downtown Improvement District to make our downtown cleaner, greener and safer. This $6 million program is funded by local businesses, not residents’ property tax dollars. It’s just one example of how we’ve rolled up our sleeves to make Minneapolis better.
Escalating violence is a serious concern. As chair of the Downtown Council, I heard the concerns of patrons, residents and business owners, and I’ve heard the same in neighborhoods across the city. Our pleas to City Hall about downtown safety went almost unheeded. So we took it upon ourselves to work directly with the Minneapolis Police Department and businesses to do what we could; we met and generated solutions.
But more needs to be done on public safety. We need to listen to residents. We also need to build a new, stronger, community-oriented “protect and serve” culture throughout our Police Department. To make that happen, it’s clear we need a new approach and new leadership at City Hall.
Our current leaders drift from crisis to crisis. There is no vision for our city. There is no plan. We have serious challenges, and we need a change at the top — in the mayor’s office — to take us forward.
The mayor of Minneapolis does four main things: creates an empowering vision for a better future; brings people together to solve problems and gives that vision life; constantly strives to make every aspect of our community better — and gets things done.
That’s the kind of mayor I’ll be.
Let’s put the progress back into progressive. Let’s lead Minneapolis.
Tom Hoch is candidate for Minneapolis mayor.