Kate Knuth, who stepped down from her position as Minneapolis' chief resilience officer after Jacob Frey became mayor, announced Tuesday that she's running against him.

In an interview Tuesday, Knuth, an environmental educator and a former three-term DFL legislator, said she decided to run because of what she calls Frey's lack of leadership and the absence of other candidates who can bring together a broad coalition to help move the city forward.

In addition to Knuth, Sheila Nezhad, an activist who favors defunding police, has also entered the race.

"I haven't seen the field of candidates I was hoping for," Knuth said. "I just feel a real sense of responsibility to make sure our city can move through this critical moment and thrive on the other side."

Knuth said factors that motivated her to run include the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, the deadly pandemic that has led to economic instability, the ongoing racial disparities and the civil unrest in the city. She accused Frey of lacking focus and commitment to building trust with the community since Floyd's death.

When asked whether she supports defunding the police, Knuth said she wants to spend more city money on alternative responses, such as mental health support and youth development. "I support the charter change that will let us build a public safety system that truly keeps every person in the city of Minneapolis safe," she said.

"We're seeing calls for defunding the police because there's been decades of police violence and significant trauma, particularly in Black, brown and immigrant and native communities," Knuth said. "I think now is a moment where we really have a chance as a city to build a new and better public safety system that actually keeps everyone in the city safe."

Frey's campaign manager Joe Radinovich, said the mayor has dedicated his time working with the community to implement "meaningful" policy changes in the Police Department and "guiding Minneapolis residents and businesses through a public safety flash point."

"While the mayor has made a consistent case for a comprehensive approach to public safety, his opponents are pushing for a policy change that opens the door to completely eliminating police in Minneapolis," Radinovich said in an interview Tuesday.

In her short stint with the city, Knuth was responsible for responding to challenges facing Minneapolis, such as low graduation rates for Black students, the risks of spills from trains hauling hazardous materials and severe weather stoked by climate change. She resigned from that position in 2018 because she said she and Frey did not have the same vision for the city.

Knuth was born in Minneapolis and lives in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood with her husband and daughter.

Faiza Mahamud • 612-673-4203