Minneapolis mayoral candidate Nekima Levy-Pounds said Thursday that miscommunication has been a “hallmark” of Mayor Betsy Hodges’ tenure, and she called for a “massive, demonstrable paradigm shift in the city.”
After speeches by several of her allies and supporters in the City Hall rotunda, Levy-Pounds blasted the city for failing to create more opportunity for people of color. She said the problems in Minneapolis of racial equity, affordable housing, criminal justice disparities and joblessness require new leadership.
“Change is on the way. Matter of fact, change is here right now,” she said. “Mayor Betsy Hodges, enough is enough. Chief Janeé Harteau, enough is enough. Council Member Jacob Frey, enough is enough.”
Hodges is running for re-election, and Frey is among her challengers.
In a speech to about 25 supporters beneath the Father of Waters statue, Levy-Pounds said she knows that a “State of the City” address is typically reserved for the mayor, but “considering the dysfunction that we have been witnessing at City Hall in recent weeks, and over the last nearly four years, I took the liberty of crafting this message.”
City staffers watched from the balconies above. Council Member Cam Gordon dropped in to listen.
Levy-Pounds said the mayor, the police chief and City Council leaders have failed to address police brutality, and their ongoing miscommunication and dysfunction is most evident when it comes to policing and north Minneapolis.
“I am fed up with the bickering between Chief Janeé Harteau and Mayor Betsy Hodges over key decisions being made that impact Northside residents and police-community relations,” Levy-Pounds said in a statement announcing the speech.
The “bickering” she’s referring to is the fallout over the appointment of Lt. John Delmonico as inspector of the Fourth Precinct, and Hodges’ rejection of that appointment.
Levy-Pounds said afterward that Delmonico was a “poor choice,” and Harteau should have known that, and Hodges should have dealt with it more decisively.
“This is what happens when you have leaders that are out of touch with communities of color,” Levy-Pounds said.
Other candidates for mayor have also criticized the handling of the Delmonico appointment, but none as pointedly as Levy-Pounds.
State Rep. Raymond Dehn issued a measured statement on Monday saying “the lack of transparency — and deliberate misrepresentation of facts — in the appointment of Inspector Delmonico do nothing but continue to further the chasm of distrust between elected leaders and Northsiders.”
Tom Hoch, on Facebook, called the Delmonico fallout “a toxic mix of inexperience and political expediency.”
Delmonico withdrew his name from consideration for the Fourth Precinct inspector job on Monday.
Hodges and Harteau met on Tuesday, but said they have no timeline for a new appointment. The current Fourth Precinct inspector, Mike Kjos, will remain in his job until the end of the summer.
Frey issued a statement Thursday night saying that the tension between Hodges and Harteau continues to be “detrimental to the effective operation of the department and inimical to the safety of Minneapolis residents.”
“Trust and communication was not present in the recent series of events,” Frey wrote. “… As mayor, I will seek to have a relationship with my police chief built on mutual trust and focused on the community to which they are entitled to protect.”
Also Thursday, Levy-Pounds, who is pregnant and expecting a child in late summer, announced that she has a new campaign manager, Cathy Jones. Jones is a letter carrier in Uptown and a vice president at the Minneapolis NAACP. She will step down from the NAACP and take a leave from the U.S. Postal Service.
Jones replaces Alexis Pennie, who is stepping down voluntarily and was present at the rally and praised by Levy-Pounds.