Surprised by Minneapolis Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges’ 17.5-percent margin of ranked-choice victory over second-place finisher Mark Andrew last Tuesday? You weren’t alone. As astute an observer of city politics as Mayor R.T. Rybak said Monday that he had not expected an outcome so decisive in the 35-candidate race to succeed him.
Hodges’ win came on the heels of a move Rybak said he questioned at the time — a mass mailing to voters in the campaign’s closing days emphasizing that she overcame resistance from public employees unions to rein in city pension obligations. It turned out to have been a winning stroke for the two-term City Council member.
The result is that Hodges has “an absolute total mandate to continue her philosophy of very progressive social issues and very tough fiscal conservatism,” the retiring DFLer said at a Humphrey School of Public Affairs forum.
That philosophy puts Hodges in sync with the thinking of a large share of Americans, at least as Rybak said he perceives it after several years of stumping the country as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee. A governing majority of Americans “don’t want to get dragged into social issues, and they want government to run well,” Rybak said. By his lights, a well-run government is one that is neither wasteful nor neglectful of its responsibilities — and not given to periodic shutdowns because of partisan intransigence.
I’d say there’s a third component to Hodges’ mandate, one related to both sides of the philosophy Rybak cited. It’s to bring about greater economic equity among the city’s demographically diverse neighborhoods. Meeting that mandate will involve both progressive inclusivity and careful targeting of limited public resources for maximum return on investment.
Hodges’ campaign emphasis on early childhood education fits the bill. It ought to remain a prominent part of a mayoral strategy to raise living standards in lagging neighborhoods. With Rybak taking a leadership post come January at Generation Next, a new public-private partnership aimed at improving educational attainment, Hodges can expect ample advice about how best to make education a mayoral priority.
Lori writes editorials and a weekly column about topics she has covered for more than 35 years, state government and politics. She's also a regular panelist on the Playing Politics podcast. Lori joined the Minneapolis Tribune as a summer replacement reporter in 1975, returned as a reporter in 1976, and was lead Capitol reporter and a newsroom assignment editor before joining the editorial staff in 1992. A native of South Dakota, Lori is a graduate of Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and a member of that institution's Board of Trustees. She has been the author, ghostwriter or editor of ten books, including "A Man's Reach: The Autobiography of Elmer L. Andersen," "Her Honor: Rosalie Wahl and the Minnesota Women's Movement," and "The Pillsburys of Minnesota." Her latest book is "Creating a Real School: the Lake Country School Story," by Larry and Pat Schaefer, released in 2016. She is a three-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award. Lori lives in St. Paul with her husband; they have three grown children. Follow @sturdevant.
In a combative opening debate, Clinton emphatically denounced Trump Monday night for keeping his business dealings secret and peddling a "racist lie" about Obama. Trump cast Clinton as a "typical politician" as he sought to capitalize on Americans' frustration with Washington.
In a combative opening debate, Hillary Clinton emphatically denounced Donald Trump Monday night for keeping his personal tax returns and business dealings secret from voters and peddling a "racist lie" about President Barack Obama. Businessman Trump repeatedly cast Clinton as a "typical politician" as he sought to capitalize on Americans' frustration with Washington.
Recommended For You
Abdirizak Bihi, Ann Gilbert and Noah Shavit-Lonstein