When I think back over Mayor Betsy Hodges’ first year in office, it’s mostly a blur. I remember the bitter cold on the day of her inauguration ceremony; I recall the sorrow on Valentine’s Day morning when five young children died in a fire; I remember celebrating outside City Hall when we learned we won the Super Bowl; and I still think daily of the community members who shared their struggles with us at public forums and protests, through letters and emails, through the news media and on social media.
I smile when I think of the intelligent and talented team she surrounded herself with, whom I have been lucky enough to work with, and I laugh when I think about some of the more interesting events we experienced, like Comic Con and meeting Garth Brooks.
As I looked back to try and compile what we did during the first year, I realized it would be impossible to capture everything. Instead, I offer for you this year in review.
We were lucky to spend a lot of time out and about in the community, for celebrations, events and more.
- Met incredible women from the Death to Life healing group
- Door knocked to get out the vote with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC)
- Cut the ribbon for the Cookie Cart re-opening
- Joined the Teamsters Local 120 for the Remember 1934 Picnic
- Became a bone marrow donor for Be the Match; kicked off the annual Run/Walk
- Attended dozens of events including Uptown Art Fair, Tour de Camden, FLOW, Camden Farmer’s Market, and more
- Joined Mayor Coleman for a national day of recognition in honor of AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members
- Attended the Minneapolis Brag Week Improv Comedy Show hosted by the Theater of Public Policy
- Proclaimed October 8, 2014 as Latino Heritage Day
- Hosted a regional Racial Equity Convening with Mayor Coleman, including community leaders from across the region
One of Mayor Hodges’ major priorities is making our city more sustainable as we work to become a Zero Waste Minneapolis. On this front, there was a lot to celebrate.
- Passed a 2015 budget that includes funding for city-wide curbside organics recycling
- Was named a Climate Action Champion by the White House and the U.S. Department of Energy
- Applauded the EPA Clean Power Plan
- Hosted a Sustainability round-table
- Expanded our composting pilot program with more sites and growing participation
- Attended a zero waste forum with Rep. Keith Ellison and a number of my council colleagues
- Fostered the creation of the Clean Energy Partnership from successful utility franchise negotiations
- Included funding in the 2015 budget to fund staff and program resources for the Clean Energy Partnership
We spent a lot of time and energy working on improving public safety and police-community relations. There is still a lot of work left to do.
- Launched the police officer body camera pilot program
- Walked the Northside with faith leaders and community advocates following a string of violent crimes
- Included funding in the 2015 budget for more recruit classes for the Fire Department
- Worked with Chief Harteau to increase police presence in North Minneapolis and parts of South Minneapolis, July through Labor Day
- Hosted a series of public forums with Chief Harteau
- Attended police awards and recognition ceremonies and a Police Cadet graduation
- Joined Chief Fruetel to congratulate the first class of high school students to take part in the Fire Department’s Explorer program
- Included funding in the 2015 budget: to begin the full implementation of police body cameras; for a police cadet class of 18; to hire 10 more police officers; and to add classes of community service officers
- Joined the Minneapolis Police Department and the community for another record-setting National Night Out
- Won the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Planning Grant to examine data around violent crime and domestic violence to better target intervention and prevention strategies
Together, we worked to advance civil rights and advocate for justice.
- Called on the Washington football team to change its name, through a resolution and a protest
- Celebrated a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index
- Hosted the first-ever Trans Equity Summit in Minneapolis
- Celebrated President Obama’s immigration executive action; joined Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s Cities United for Immigration Action coalition
- Expanded in-person absentee voting hours
- Joined CTUL on the strike line
- Applauded legislative action at the state Capitol: Women’s Economic Security Act, minimum wage increase
- Asked City staff to bring forward recommendations for a parental leave policy for City employees
- Changed the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day
- Became the first U.S. city to establish a sister city relationship in Somalia
Mayor Hodges focused on our youth as a place to reduce violence, improve outcomes, and increase equity.
- Assembled the Cradle to K cabinet and established working subcommittees around the three goal areas of eliminating disparities: healthy start, stable housing, access to high quality child care
- Included funding in the 2015 budget to increase the City’s youth violence prevention work, including extending the effective work of downtown youth outreach workers
- Accepted the My Brother’s Keeper Challenge from the White House; hosted a My Brothers’ Keeper Briefing and Action Summit with Mayor Coleman
- Launched pop-up parks, a collaboration through the summer focused on reducing and preventing youth violence
- Moderated a student debate with the Minnesota Urban Debate League
- Named one of six cities to receive technical assistance from the National League of Cities to increase public safety and improve outcomes for youth through juvenile-justice reform
2014 brought many moments of celebration about the success and growth of Minneapolis, while presenting more opportunities for economic development and inclusive growth.
- Hosted business listening sessions as part of Streamline Minneapolis efforts to review licensing and business regulations
- Applied for a Promise Zone application, including one of the largest gatherings of stakeholders around equity
- Hosted and celebrated the first ever Best Week of Bragging About Minneapolis Ever, raising the visibility of Minneapolis
- Included funding in the 2015 budget for the redevelopment of the Upper Harbor Terminal
- Led the Racial Equity Policy Work Group established by the City Council
- Completed the Somali 100-Day Plan, which included a meeting with Somali women entrepreneurs
- Included funding in the 2015 budget for two new positions in the City Coordinator’s office to focus exclusively on the City’s racial-equity work
- Broke ground on the new Vikings stadium and Downtown East development
- Won the 2018 Superbowl bid
- Hosted a successful MLB All-Star Game, bringing thousands of visitors to the city
- Won the Final Four bid
- Celebrated hitting $1 billion in building permits in August, much earlier than in previous years
- Secured funding from the state legislature for Nicollet Mall renovations; included final funding from the City of Minneapolis in the 2015 budget
- Assembled and met with the Somali Advisory Council to focus on issues affecting the Somali community
We also saw major progress in our efforts to expand transit options and keep our city running smoothly.
- Won a $2.7 million Mayor’s Innovation grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to help ensure core City services are delivered equitably throughout the city
- Included funding for a network of protected bike lanes in the 2015 budget, including additional funds for snow management of those lanes in the winter
- Celebrated the opening of the Green Line
- Approved municipal consent for the Southwest Light Rail line
- Proclaimed Winter Biking Day
- Passed a 2015 budget which included funding for a reorganized and reimagined transportation planning division in Public Works
- Approved additional funding for pothole repairs
- Celebrated the opening of the Dinkytown Greenway, part of 10 miles of new bikeways created in Minneapolis during the construction season
Mayor Hodges celebrated the typical milestones and built a solid foundation for the future.
- Joined the community for an inaugural tour and an inaugural ball
- Delivered her first State of the City address, where she introduced her three questions
- Nominated new department heads, bringing in CPED Director Craig Taylor and City Coordinator Spencer Cronk
- Delivered her first budget address; passed her first budget making progress on her three goals
- Hired one of the most diverse and talented staffs to ever work in the Minneapolis mayor’s office
In addition to all the work, there were a lot of fun and exciting moments we never quite expected.
- Attended the State of the Union with Rep. Ellison
- Mayor Hodges was honored by the George Family Foundation as part of the first ever Celebrating Twin Cities Women Leaders event
- Hosted the Egart Run for Girls’ Health (after getting rained out for the Minneapolis Half-Marathon)
- Met Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, issued and read a proclamation in their name
- Participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge
- Talked policy with and got blessings from the Dalai Lama
- Participated in a Brag Minneapolis show hosted by the Theater of Public Policy
- Attended Comic Con to issue a proclamation
- Greeted President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama during visits to Minneapolis
- Participated in a live panel discussion for Real Time with Bill Maher
All in all, it was an exciting, challenging and rewarding first year. Here’s to 2015 and the many milestones yet to come!