Reelection Campaign Launch Announcement Speech

Dec 15, 2016 | Speeches

Mayor Betsy Hodges
Reelection Campaign Announcement
Urban Ventures Colin Powell Leadership Center
December 15, 2016

Thank you so much!

I am here to announce today that I will be running for a second term as Mayor of Minneapolis!

I am running for reelection because I’ve gotten great results for our city. I am running for reelection because I’ve delivered on the promises I made to our people. And I am running for reelection because I’m not done yet: there’s a lot more to do and I’m the right mayor to get it done.

When I was inaugurated almost three years ago, I noted that I had promised to take on three important tasks: running our city well, growing it for everyone, and eliminating the gaps between white people and people of color that divide us from each other and keep us from our greatest future. I laid out a vision that if we did those things well, our great city of Minneapolis could be “more than just a great city”: we would be “a new city, shining like a beacon.”

In the last three years, I’ve kept my promises; gotten great, progressive, results; and gotten us well down the road to that vision. Now I should warn you: the list is very long. There’s so much to tell about the work I’ve gotten done, I could keep you here until next Tuesday.

I promise I won’t do that … for now. But here are some of the high points that I want you to know about, ones that I’m proud are making a difference for people.

When it comes to closing the gaps that divide us:

  • I proposed, fought for, and signed into law our Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance that will protect more than 40 percent of Minneapolis workers, the large majority of whom are people of color, with paid time off for the first time. Now no one needs to choose between getting well and getting paid.
  • I founded my groundbreaking Cradle to K Cabinet to prevent racial disparities from ever arising in our smallest children. Already, we have leveraged over $4.3 million in public and private funds to provide housing for families leaving 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.
  • I have 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. Just yesterday, I was at the White House with President Obama to highlight our results and help move the national effort forward.
  • I have changed the DNA of City government to be fundamentally oriented toward achieving racial equity. This includes:
    • 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.
  • I have been a vocal defender and champion of our trans community, including support for the Trans Equity Summit and implementation of their recommendations, including funding to move toward gender neutral bathrooms in City buildings for employees..
  • And I have put transforming police–community relations at the center of my agenda, by:
    • Keeping my promise to put body cameras on every Minneapolis police officer responding to 911 calls;
    • 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.

When it comes to keeping our great city growing in a way that benefits everyone:

  • I have invested around $40 million in affordable housing in the last three years.
  • I have strongly supported workforce development and entrepreneurship targeted to immigrant communities and communities of color.
  • My Business Made Simple initiative has stripped away obsolete and unhelpful regulations on business, and I have supported dedicated navigators that will help small businesses start and expand.
  • Despite many obstacles, I have kept us moving forward on more options for public transit in order to best serve the communities that most rely on it.
  • I have made big investments in both bike infrastructure and maintenance, including a visionary network of protected bike lanes that will make everyone safer and has made us, and will keep us, the best bike city in the country.
  • I established a transportation planning division in Public Works, provided more funding for clearing snow from sidewalks, and helped pass a nation-leading complete streets policy to improve safety, increase job access and prioritize walking, bicycling and transit.
  • Our amazing city keeps growing: for each of the past three years, we have surpassed $1 billion in building permits. Cranes are in the sky everywhere you look. I was the lead fundraiser with Pat Ryan on the beautiful new Downtown East Commons, and I helped bring the Super Bowl, the NCAA Final Four, and the X Games to Minneapolis.

And when it comes to continuing to run the city well:

  • I helped lead the historic agreement between the City and the Park Board to rebuild our neighborhood parks and streets for the next two generations, and put racial equity at the center of the investments we make.
  • I have dramatically expanded our practice of public safety by putting more than $1 million into innovative community-led initiatives to improve safety on the ground in our neighborhoods and get violent offenders to stop offending.
  • I have supported efforts to keep our youth safe: youth-violence prevention, youth outreach workers, and juvenile-justice reform.
  • I have increased the number of sworn firefighters for the first time in many years.
  • I have kept both fighting against, and adapting to, climate change at the center of everything we do, including by:
    • fully funding citywide organics recycling,
    • partnering with our utilities to promote renewable energy, conduct home-energy audits, and help consumers save energy and money,
    • increasing funding for small businesses who want to adopt greener business practices,
    • winning a three-year, multi-million-dollar grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to craft a climate-resilience plan for our city, the number-two city in America most affected by climate change,
    • and leading a plan to make Minneapolis a zero-waste city.
  • I have been an ally and advisor to City Council Members who are working to advance progressive change.
  • And I have done it all with structurally balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility, and by successfully fighting attempts to stray from that foundation.

That’s a lot of results, and those aren’t even close to the half of it! I am proud of this hard work and strong record of accomplishment, and excited to do much more for our great city.

Now, it may seem obvious that getting results on closing our gaps, growing our city, and running it well is the work that we need our mayor to do, but these results don’t just happen by themselves. Rather, these results have happened because I have put good policy before good politics. The politics of earned sick and safe time were challenging. The politics of infusing our city government with racial equity are challenging. The politics of implementing 21st-century policing and transforming police–community relations are very challenging. But all three were, and are, the right things to do. I will continue to lead with the right thing to do for our people over the right thing to do for my politics. I have faith that in the long run, good policy is good politics.

These results have also happened, and are continuing to happen, because I have made them happen through deliberate, intentional leadership. I recognize that that’s a kind of leadership that isn’t always appreciated, that to some people doesn’t even look like their old-school idea of leadership.

Look at our most recent election. The leadership and accomplishments of the woman who, through decades of deliberate and intentional preparation and experience, was more ready than any candidate in our history to become president were constantly dismissed, constantly belittled, constantly undermined.

I know something about that. But dismiss, belittle, and undermine it all you want: that kind of leadership is strong, effective leadership that gets real results.

I also know that in times of uncertainty and crisis, my deliberate, intentional leadership has served us well: it has helped keep our city calm and hold us together. Sometimes, the best results aren’t just the good things that do happen: they’re the bad things that don’t.

These results for Minneapolis have also happened because I am playing a long game. Our biggest challenges need more than a one-issue politician; our biggest challenges need more than a politician who is out for short-term wins and the glory of a good headline. Rather, our biggest challenges require a mayor who has a progressive vision for where we need to be in 10 years or 20, and what we need to do to get there. These times require a mayor who understands that the biggest challenge we face is not just what’s on the streets today, it’s what’s on the streets today with an eye for systemic change, not just Band-Aids that can be ripped off tomorrow.

Playing the long game in order to make solid, steady progress on our goals often doesn’t get recognized as leadership in the way that grabbing a headline or a tweet storm does, but that’s how I’ve led and how I will continue to lead. It’s the kind of leadership Minneapolis needs now, and will continue to need in the uncertain years to come, to rise to our biggest challenges and get to our greatest future.

I will own up, however, to an area where I have fallen short: I have not talked often enough or loudly enough about my accomplishments, or claimed enough credit for the results I have produced from the work that I have done day in and day out over the last three years.

It’s funny when you think about it. I have challenged us as a people to brag about our city, because even though we know it’s an amazing city, we don’t brag about ourselves, so no one knows how great we are. But then, you guessed it: as Minnesotan as I am and as, well, female as I am — and as much as I love bragging about Minneapolis — I have sometimes shied away from pointing out my own accomplishments.

That’s the great thing about this campaign, though: for the next year, it gives me an excuse to tell people everything they got when they voted for me. I’m looking forward to it and I’m starting now.

So, Minneapolis, I’ve gotten a lot done and some great progressive results. Our city is stronger than ever: stronger because we are putting good policy ahead of good politics; stronger because we are taking on our biggest challenges, not glossing over them; stronger because we are playing a long game. I travel the country and hear it everywhere that no city, and no mayor, is doing more to take on the challenges of growing our economy for everyone, shifting the center of gravity around public safety and public trust, and addressing and closing the racial gaps in opportunity — or making more progress on it more quickly than we are. We are leading the national conversation, we are a beacon for progressive cities around the country, and we can be proud of it. I am.

And like I said, there’s a lot more to do — and I’m not done.

Much of my long game has been in partnership with President Obama and his team. I have been proud to partner with President Obama on 21st century policing, My Brothers Keeper, TechHire, the Prosperity Playbook, and Climate Action Champs, and many other progressive initiatives that have left our city stronger.

My next term won’t be with a President Obama, however.

It will be with a President Trump.

Minneapolis, we are an amazing city and an amazing people who, despite the challenges and divisions we face, come together out of respect for each other and a belief in the common good. It is urgent that we recognize that now more than ever, we must come together for the common good, because now we see what the stakes really are.

We know that progressive cities like Minneapolis, and those of us who love them and tend to them, will be under attack under President Trump. We know because he’s told us: he has already threatened to strip federal funding from cities that refuse to help him round up immigrants and break up families. We can also expect that:

  • Racial equity will be under attack by white supremacy.
  • Inclusive growth will be under attack by crony capitalism.
  • Resiliency against climate change will be under attack by the fossil-fuel industry.
  • Trans people and their bodies will be under attack by bathroom laws and the permission of violence.
  • LGBT people will be under attack by the legalized “freedom” to discriminate.
  • Immigrant families, and the cities that embrace them and keep them safe, will be under attack by those who would rip them apart.
  • The age-old virtue of loving our neighbors as ourselves will be under attack by an administration that would force our Muslims brothers and sisters to register — or worse.

These times require a mayor who can bring our city together to play defense. I have stood up for Minneapolis in tough years past when Republicans held the Legislature and Tim Pawlenty held the governor’s office. I have led Minneapolis through mean-spirited State budget cuts to our police and our streets, a deep-seated pension crisis, and countless assaults on our city. In just the five weeks since Donald Trump was awarded the Presidency without really winning it, I have defended our Muslim brothers and sisters against vicious attack, I have worked with the City Council to put more resources into investigating cases of discrimination, and I have stood rock-solid in defense of our separation ordinance — what some call “sanctuary city” — so that everyone in Minneapolis, including immigrants, can feel safe when calling the police. I will not waver in my defense of our city against Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Mike Pence, or anyone who sets their sights on us and comes after our people.

These times also require a mayor who can bring our city together to play offense. These times require a mayor who has a big, progressive vision and plays long. These times require a mayor who can continue to lead the way toward making Minneapolis a shining beacon of progressive light and accomplishment in a time of authoritarian darkness.

That’s the mayor I have been, because that’s the mayor I am. With your support next year, that’s the mayor I will continue to be.

What we are about as a people

Fundamentally, these times require that we decide whether we as a people are about community, organizing, and change — or whether we are about resentment, mistrust of those we perceive as different than we are, and fear.

In the end, it will come down to who we see as part of our human family — and whether we make exceptions. Can we love the supporter of Trump as a human at the same time that we decry and fight the policies of Trump and Bannon and Pence themselves?

I believe we can. I believe that’s who Minneapolis is at our core: One Minneapolis, with the best of us, our humanity, and our recognition of the full humanity of others, at the heart of what we do. That is the guiding light we need to follow for the next four years. That is the beacon that we shine for the world. And that is what propels me to seek another term as your mayor.


I want to thank State Representative Jean Wagenius for being here, I want to thank Council Member John Quincy for being here, I want to thank Met Council Member Gary Cunningham (also my husband) for being here.

Thank you all very much for the support.

Finally, it is not an accident that I chose Urban Ventures as a place to talk about who we are as a city and a people. Urban Ventures is leading some of the most crucial work of our community. Fathering programs for young men. After-school programs for our children. Dave Hawn, John Turnipseed, and their whole team have been crucial partners in my work and I am deeply grateful for them.

John is one of my heroes. From a desperate childhood of his own, and a troubled early manhood, he has turned his life into something to be proud of and he openly shares his life experience with the young men who are coming up behind him.

John and Urban Ventures show us that while the work may never be done — there will always be another young man to pull back into the embrace of community, another soul to pull back from the brink of despair — it is work that we get to do with hope, with faith, and with joy, just as John and everyone at Urban Ventures does. Similarly, our work as a city and a people is not done — in many ways in these times, it is just beginning anew. My work as your mayor is not done, either — in many ways, it too is beginning anew. But because of the foundation that we have laid in the last three years — the hard work that I have done, and the amazing results we have gotten together — we are poised to go big and to go long, with hope, faith, and joy.

I, for one, cannot wait. Thank you.