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Big ideas: Wants to focus on closing education, employment and geographic “gaps.” Her strategy includes having the health department expand its work to focus more resources on prenatal to 3-year-old care and building rail transit on the North Side to encourage investment and job creation.
Big accomplishment: Led multiyear effort to reform city pension programs, averting $20 million in potential property tax increases in 2012.
Weakness/baggage: As budget committee chair, Hodges was a lead agent behind many cuts imposed by the city in recent years, some of which could become campaign liabilities.
Personal: Recently married to Gary Cunningham, a Metropolitan Council member. She lives in Linden Hills.
Supporters that matter: Service Employees International Union, Sen. Scott Dibble, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.
Stadium position: Longtime critic of public funding for sports venues, she was one of six “no” votes and cochaired commission that recommended private financing of Twins ballpark.
Quotable moment: “My fear is that somewhere down the road they’re going to come knocking on the city’s door to say, ‘We need you to kick in more to save the Vikings and save the stadium.’ When I’m mayor, the answer to that ... will be no.”
Ideas for growing jobs/population: Says City Hall needs to invest in transit, including streetcars and enhanced bus service. Plans to grow strong city job sectors, like renewable energy, through active recruitment.
Suggested cuts/efficiencies: Says the city has “cut to the bone,” and continued economic growth will take pressure off of property taxes. Asked about ways to streamline services, Hodges pointed to some operations of the Park Board, such as the separate Park Police. “If you’re looking at places where we can get efficiencies, that’s one place I would look,” she said.
Written by Eric Roper, photography by Jeff Wheeler