Mayor Betsy Hodges DFL Convention Speech

Jul 8, 2017 | Speeches

remarks as prepared

Tested, progressive mayor

Minneapolis, when we meet the tests in front of us, there will be no limits on the One Minneapolis we get to be.

We need a tested, progressive mayor who has real results of substance, true depth of experience, and unshakeable strength of character to lead our city in this unprecedented time.

Who I am

I know that some of you feel you don’t really know me. And I get it.

Four years ago, I told the story of being an alcoholic at 19, and how I chose sobriety. What I wasn’t ready to tell you then is that I am a survivor of childhood sexual assault.

This spring, I chose to share my story publicly, primarily because I wanted other survivors to know that they can heal, as I have, but also because I wanted to break the habit of keeping my distance — a protective instinct that didn’t let people see what really drives me.

What drives me is that I care about the people of this city and I want our lives to go well. I believe in you, in us, the same way that over time, I came to believe in myself. We can tackle any challenge.

Like you, I believe when people are sick, they should be allowed to heal. Like you, I believe that every parent should have the money to feed their kids. So here’s what we did together.

It took a full year of overcoming opposition and bringing people together to pass the earned sick and safe time policy I proposed in 2015, but we persisted because it was the right thing to do. Now, no one working in Minneapolis has to choose between getting well and getting paid.

And just last week, I signed the first fifteen-dollar-an-hour minimum wage in the Midwest. We did this together, you guys — and we did it right. I paid a political price to demand that tipped workers — predominantly women and people of color — be included with no tip penalty. Some of the men running for mayor wanted to leave them behind. I said no.

That’s how I work for you as your mayor.

As I survived and healed from sexual assault, I developed these skills: I can face a problem, create and work through a plan to address it, stand strong when I am tested, and with faith and hard work, come through stronger on the other side.

These skills are most valuable to our city when we are tested the most.

Fourth Precinct

At no time in the last few years have we been more tested than during the 18-day occupation at the Fourth Precinct after Jamar Clark’s death. 

As the person who had and felt the weight of the responsibility for keeping everyone safe — demonstrators, police officers, and residents — I made a new choice, one no other city or mayor had made before. I applied the principles of 21st-century policing to negotiate the safest possible resolution, while protecting everyone’s constitutional rights.

What that looked like was:

  • allowing the space needed for protest and grieving;
  • removing camouflage from the department;
  • working with NorthPoint to provide culturally appropriate counseling services.
  • meeting and communicating with the Clark family, demonstrators, police officers, and community to find common ground;

When the Department of Justice evaluated the City’s response — at my request — they commended all of us for our commitment to reaching a peaceful solution. They also offered recommendations. The one I took most to heart was that I strengthen my communication. I didn’t communicate to you effectively that I was actually pursuing a strategy to resolve the occupation peacefully. That shortcoming is on me alone. I am sorry.

After the occupation, I chose to harness that disruption to accelerate our 21st-century policing agenda — and we’ve made real progress. We’re not done, but now we have:

  • body cameras on every officer who responds to 911 calls;
  • training in crisis intervention, procedural justice, and implicit bias for every single officer;
  • a five-year Obama Administration grant to heal trauma in communities affected by police-involved shootings;
  • and real policy changes that put de-escalation, integrity, and sanctity of life first.

And I heard you when you said you wanted to take more responsibility for safety in your neighborhoods — so this year I invested over one million dollars in community-led public safety strategies.

No other city or mayor has done more, faster to transform policing than I have and we have.

That’s the work of a progressive mayor who has been tested like no other.

Tested like never before

Now, we’re all being tested like never before.

Some candidates have said being mayor has nothing to do with standing up to Donald Trump — but they’re wrong.

They’re not talking to the people I’m talking to — Muslims, immigrants, LGBTQ folks, especially trans folks, people with disabilities, or people who vote. Defending the people of Minneapolis is a core function of my job.

And I can lead us through this because I’ve done it before. I helped dig Minneapolis out of a deep financial hole even while Tim Pawlenty tried to bury us under cuts. I will do the same if Congress and the Legislature make good on their threats.

None of the men running for mayor is as prepared as I am for what’s coming. As recent forums have made painfully clear, they don’t even understand how the City’s budget and property taxes actually work. When Republican cuts come, they will not be able to protect the vital services we depend on every day.

That gap in substance also shows up when they take work I’m already doing and propose it like it’s their idea:

  • Tom Hoch thinks the redesign of Nicollet Mall should be on time and on budget — when it has been all along, because we’re implementing the plan he agreed to when he was chair of the Downtown Council.
  • Jacob Frey thinks we should come up with a plan to end homelessness in five years — when we’re already implementing a plan through Heading Home Hennepin to end it in three.

Now more than ever, we need a tested, progressive mayor who has put racial equity at the center of her work, who can lead through the storm, and who can stand up to bullies — be they fascist presidents or police-union bosses. And trust me: Bob Kroll has never been tempted to write me a check.

Who we’re going to be

Minneapolis, we are a great city — pushing ourselves faster along the path of progressive transformation than any city in America. I can see the One Minneapolis we’re going to be, and we look amazing.

We will be a city where we pull every lever, from land-use policy to land trusts, so everyone has an affordable place to live; and you know with me as mayor, we’ll get there because I’ve innovated to deliver more money than ever before for affordable housing for the people who need it most.

We’ll be a city where investing in our neighborhoods won’t drive people out, and where no family faces eviction just so landlords can profit; and you know we’ll get there with me as mayor because I made the City’s first investment in preserving naturally occurring affordable housing so we can stem the tide of rising rents.

Where we put environmental justice first; and you know we’ll get there because I helped push Northern Metals out of the Northside with real money for asthma mitigation, and I won a state-of-the-art transit station at Lake Street.

Where we become a Zero Waste city; and we’ll get there because 40% of residents already use the organics recycling I put in place.

Where everyone shares in our prosperity; and we’ll get there because 87% of the entrepreneurs I’ve invested in training are low-income —most of them people of color.

Where our historic 20-year plan to invest in parks and streets is working; and we’ll get there because I insisted on a real plan with real dollars, when others wanted to pass a fake plan.

Where our complete streets are safer for all users; and we’ll get there because we’re already prioritizing people with disabilities, pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders.

We will be a truly welcoming, inclusive city where we meet difference with love, not fear — and I believe in my heart we’ll get there, because together, we are setting the standard for standing up for each other in the time of Trump, and will continue to lead the way in kindness, compassion, and healing.

To get there, we need the tested, progressive, transformational leadership I have offered you for the last four years and I offer you again today.

I ask for your vote on every ballot, and for your endorsement. Thank you.



Mayor Hodges Convention Speech

Posted by Fardowsa Saciid Kokakola on Saturday, July 8, 2017