Biography & Results
Betsy Hodges was elected mayor of Minneapolis in 2013; she is only the second woman ever to serve as mayor. She ran and was elected on a platform of running the city well, growing the city for everyone, and eliminating the gaps between white people and people of color — and she has delivered.
Mayor Hodges is leading on the greatest challenge of our time: to build an equitable city through transformational efforts to tackle and eliminate the disparities between white people and people of color. To that end, Mayor Hodges:
• Proposed Minneapolis’ Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance in April 2015, and signed it into law in May 2016. The ordinance — the first of its kind in Minnesota — will protect more than 40 percent of Minneapolis workers, the large majority of whom are people of color, from having to choose between getting well and getting paid, and will improve public health for everyone.
• Founded her groundbreaking Cradle to K Cabinet to prevent racial disparities from ever arising in our smallest children — work that no other city is doing. It has already leveraged $4.3 million in public and private funds to provide housing for families needing shelter, and to implement the “Talking Is Teaching” literacy program that is designed to close the “word gap” between children from low-income families and children from middle- and upper-income families.
• Has been a national leader in the My Brother’s Keeper initiative to support, engage, and lift up young men and boys of color as one of our community’s greatest assets.
• Has vocally defended Minneapolis’ trans, LGBT, Muslim, and immigrant communities against attack.
• Has begun transforming police–community relations by:
• Keeping her promise to put body cameras on every police officer;
• Getting all police officers trained in implicit bias, procedural justice, and crisis intervention;
• Making it easier to file and track complaints against officers;
• Creating new classes of Community Service Officers, which are more than half people of color; and
• Investing significantly in community policing, one of the pillars of building relationships and trust with community.
This body of work amounts to changing the DNA of Minneapolis city government, fundamentally reorienting it toward achieving racial equity in our city. This includes work such as funding implicit-bias training for all City employees, establishing the Office of Equity and Inclusion, implementing the Promise Zone for North Minneapolis, and guiding the work of the Bloomberg-funded Innovation Team to support renters and small businesses in communities of color.
Mayor Hodges’ growth agenda is rooted in the proven, well-documented fact that inclusive growth is the most effective and beneficial growth model for our time.
• She has invested $40 million in affordable housing in the last three years.
• She has strongly supported workforce development and entrepreneurship targeted to immigrant communities and communities of color.
• Despite many obstacles, Mayor Hodges has kept Minneapolis moving forward on more options for development-oriented public transit — including light rail, bus rapid transit, and modern streetcars — with a strong emphasis on serving best the low-income communities that most rely on it. She has also continued to invest in bike infrastructure that has made Minneapolis the nationally recognized best bike city in the country.
• To make sure that businesses in the city thrive, especially small businesses, Mayor Hodges implemented the Business Made Simple initiative, stripping away out-of-date ordinances and regulations that were getting in the way of doing business effectively. She also worked with small business owners, community leaders, and City Council Members to add a team of navigators that will help make it easier for small businesses to start up and grow.
Minneapolis continues to grow dramatically. Our city’s population now tops 412,000, the highest number in 50 years. Cranes dot the sky around the city and the tax base continues to grow, with the value of building permits surpassing $1 billion each year for the last three years. Mayor Hodges has also been the lead fundraiser for the completion of the new Downtown East Commons, and has actively helped win the Super Bowl, the NCAA Final Four, and the X Games to Minneapolis.
Yet while our economy has never been stronger, it is still not benefitting everyone equitably. Mayor Hodges continues to invest in inclusive growth because she knows we do not need to choose between equity and growth: rather, everyone will benefit when our growth is inclusive growth.
From her combined 11 years as Mayor and a City Council member, Mayor Hodges knows that racial disparities cannot be effectively addressed, nor can inclusive growth be sustained, if city government is not run well, with attention to delivering the basics well, innovation and constant improvement, and strict fiscal responsibility.
While on the City Council as the member for Ward 13, she served as chair of the Ways and Means/Budget Committee and the Intergovernmental Relations Committee. Among her many accomplishments, then-Council Member Hodges led the fight to reform a broken closed-pension system that served neither the pensioners nor taxpayers well. Her efforts helped avert a $20-million increase in the property tax levy in 2012.
As Mayor, Mayor Hodges has:
• Shifted the center of gravity around public safety by investing more than $1 million into innovative community-led initiatives to improve safety on the ground. This work includes: a mental-health co-responder pilot project that responds to years of community requests; an innovative approach to encouraging violent offenders to stop offending or face real consequences; and consistently supporting and expanding ground-breaking efforts to keep our youth safe and out of the criminal justice system, such as youth-violence prevention, youth outreach workers, and juvenile-justice reform.
• Helped lead the historic agreement between the City and the Park Board to rebuild our neighborhood parks and city streets for the next two generations.
• Increased the number of sworn firefighters for the first time in many years.
• Expanded Minneapolis’ efforts to fight and build resilience to global climate change, including by: fully funding citywide organics recycling; partnering with our utilities to promote renewable energy and help consumers save energy and money; increasing funding for small businesses who want to adopt greener business practices; winning a 3-year, multi-million-dollar grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to become one of only 100 cities worldwide that are putting climate resilience in the forefront of their work; and leading a plan to make Minneapolis a zero-waste city.
Mayor Hodges has accomplished all this work with structurally balanced budgets, reasonable tax policy, and fiscal responsibility. She has successfully fought attempts to stray from this foundation.
A Minnesota native, Mayor Betsy Hodges attended high school in Plymouth, earned a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College, and a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin. She is married to Gary Cunningham, CEO and President of the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda) and a member of the Metropolitan Council. They have two children, four grandchildren and two cats.