remarks as prepared
I. INTRO – THE PEOPLE OF MINNEAPOLIS
There’s a framed quote in my office in City Hall, one I’ve positioned so I can see it from where I sit. It’s something Michael Nutter said when he was Mayor of Philadelphia: “I didn’t run for mayor to be the caretaker of the status quo.”
Neither did I.
In my State of the City address two years ago, I spoke of the profound truth of Minneapolis: we are a great city that at the same time faces some great challenges, especially regarding race. At my inauguration four years ago, I said that when we take on those challenges fearlessly, and resolve to transform our city, there will be no limits to our greatness.
Now, four years later, the choice in front of us in the election next Tuesday is crystal clear. Do we let the big-money candidates of the old status quo drag us back to the past where we swept our challenges under the rug? Do we let those with money and power make decisions for the rest of us, and by so doing give up on what makes Minneapolis great? Or do we move forward with the transformation that we have set in motion over the last four years?
In 2013, you chose me to lead the fight against the old way of doing business in Minneapolis.
- The old way of doing business meant accepting comfortable inaction on racial inequity;
- The old way meant not using all our power as a city, and waiting for change to be led by state or federal governments;
- The old way of doing business meant not challenging the big money that wants to buy our elections.
The old status quo of comfortable inaction allows racial inequity to thrive—and we all know that racial inequity is an existential threat to the greatness of Minneapolis. It props up a system where your income, your ZIP code, or your race determine too much of your chances for happiness and success in life.
That’s the status quo I’ve been taking on for the last four years, and for all of my adult life.
The old ways of waiting for real change to be led by the state or federal government border on delusional in 2017. At the state level, currently only two people—Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith—stand in the way of Minnesota becoming Scott Walker’s Wisconsin. At the federal level, the President and Congress want to repeal not just Obamacare but the 20th century itself, and dismantle all the advancements in social justice and human rights we’ve made as a country.
For the last four years, I’ve helped Minneapolis carve our own path forward, with or without help from other levels of government. Today, cities like ours are on the front lines of progressive change—defending American values of inclusion, defending the most vulnerable among us, and defending democracy itself from an authoritarian and racist president. Some of my opponents have actually said that it’s not the job of the mayor to stand up to Donald Trump, that I should focus only on the work at home. But if you don’t understand that standing up to Trump is the work at home, then you don’t understand Minneapolis.
This moment in history demands not that we sit back and hope the bad stuff passes: it demands that we stand up for neighbors and for what’s right, and that we fight with every tool we have.
I am doing the job that this moment in history demands.
Finally, the toxic influence of big money has been extending further and further down the ballot in our elections. In both Minneapolis and Saint Paul, right-wing media and right-wing money are pushing back hard against progressive change at the city level. Notably, the Minnesota Jobs Coalition—a right-wing, dark-money group that was behind the Republican takeover of our Legislature—now wants to do the same in Minneapolis. There’s more and more evidence of this, every day. They want to lower voter turnout in 2018 by making our election so ugly that people choose not to participate.
I’ve been taking on that version of the status quo for the last four years, too—investing real dollars in strengthening our elections.
But make no mistake: the status quo is not passive or inert. It is fighting for its life.
I use the quote in my office to remind me that when you do the work of transformation in a world where powerful people benefit from the old status quo, there will be resistance. There will be fierce headwinds. Frankly, the path to re-election would be much easier if I stopped challenging the old way of doing things, and touted only our successes instead of also confronting our challenges.
Now Jacob Frey and Tom Hoch—the big-money candidates and fierce status quo defenders challenging me from the right—paint a dark picture of Minneapolis today. And they’re trying to convince you that staying on the path we’ve been on together for the past four years will lead to an even darker future.
But I don’t see what they see, and I don’t think you do, either. I see a bright Minneapolis. We’re one of America’s greenest cities, with the best park system in the country. We have a growing, 21st-century economy—and a thriving creative economy—with global ties and local pride. We have seen over 1 billion dollars in new development in Minneapolis in each year I’ve been mayor, and we are growing at a rate we haven’t seen in nearly a century. And we have what I love most about our city—the most wonderful, compassionate, diverse, and loving people anywhere. No wonder more and more people want to be a part of what we have here.
This success isn’t imperiled by the transformation I’ve been leading, as Jacob Frey and Tom Hoch would have you believe. This success isn’t in spite of it, or even coincidental to it. This success is because of it.
Four years ago, you put the mayor’s levers of change and power in my hands. And together, we’ve pulled those levers to make real change, and lasting change in Minneapolis.
Today, everyone who works in Minneapolis has Earned Sick and Safe Time. Today, no one has to choose between getting well and getting paid.
Today, we have in ordinance a 15-dollar minimum wage that does not leave tipped workers behind.
Today, every neighborhood in our city has organics recycling, with a Zero Waste plan on the way.
Today, my Cradle to K Cabinet is working to prevent disparities for our youngest children before they arise.
Today, we have the strongest foundation for transforming policing—and the culture of policing—of any city in the country: a whole new program of training in implicit bias, procedural justice and crisis intervention, and the supervision and management that go with them. We’ve elevated both public safety and public trust, introduced body cameras, and made real policy changes that put de-escalation, integrity, and sanctity of life first. We’re shifting the very definition of public safety to be a true collaboration between law enforcement and community. And we’ve chosen a new Police Chief who is already leading us to the next horizon of transformation in policing.
You put those levers in my hand, and with your support, I pulled them.
We have made great progress and we have faced resistance and strong headwinds. This election is about how we respond when the headwinds are at their strongest and the old way of doing business is fighting for its life. Will we push forward, or turn back?
The work that has contributed to making Minneapolis the great city we can see it is—all the progress we’ve made in equity, in protecting workers, in sustainability, and so much more—all of that is at risk if we retreat to the status quo of the old guard and big money.
But I have faith in the people of Minneapolis: we are strong, and we use our strength to meet our challenges head on. And for four years, we’ve been up to every challenge the status quo has thrown at us.
Because we know that if people of color and indigenous communities aren’t at the heart of the work to create the city of the future, we won’t have a future.
We know that if we aren’t intentional about creating a city where everyone can contribute to and benefit from our prosperity, where everyone is safe and feels safe in every neighborhood, our greatness will wither on the vine.
It’s easy to misunderstand our city or the greatness of our people if you underestimate our ability to stand strong, as we get through to the transformed city that awaits us.
II. CHAMPIONS OF THE STATUS QUO
And Minneapolis, some of the men running for mayor do underestimate you.
Though they try their best to hide it from you, the men running against me on my right are champions of the old-guard status quo. These opponents use old-guard language and offer outdated old-guard plans. And they take—and give—old-guard money.
Somebody asked me recently: “You’ve been mayor for four years, and an elected official for longer than that—aren’t you the part of the establishment at this point?”
After I finished laughing, my response was simple:
“If I were the candidate of the old guard, wouldn’t big money be pouring into my campaign?”
Hint: Big money is not pouring in to my campaign.
But big money is pouring cash into the Jacob Frey and Tom Hoch campaigns. Bob Kroll and the Police Union have never been even the least bit tempted to donate to my campaign—but Kroll did give the maximum donation to Jacob Frey. I’ve never been the least bit tempted to donate to the House Republican Campaign Committee or to Rich Stanek—but Tom Hoch did just that. Think about it: In October of 2016, while we progressives were fighting Donald Trump, and while I was working to get Democrats elected around the state, Tom Hoch was donating to Republicans.
Now, Frey and Hoch are trying to run from that support. You know what? I’m embracing mine: endorsements from Lt. Governor Tina Smith, Senator Al Franken, Van Jones, Lisa Bender, Andrea Jenkins, Elizabeth Glidden, John Quincy, Robert Lilligren, Scott Dibble, Jean Wagenius, Susan Allen, Mohamud Noor, Josie Johnson, John Choi, John Turnipseed, Clyde Bellecourt, Debbie Goettel, Clean Water Action, SEIU, Sierra Club, Out Front Minnesota, Dan Savage, Emily’s List, Women Winning, Latricia Vetaw, Brad Bourn, Stephanie Musich, David Wheeler, and a line of progressive mayors across the country that stretches from New York to Los Angeles, from Boston to Long Beach, from Duluth to Golden Valley.
Oh, and the infamous multi-media mogul Wedge LIVE!
Some of the men running for mayor underestimate you with their ideas. Sometimes, the old guard status quo takes the form of an opponent who, instead of taking on the toughest challenges from top to bottom, wants to tinker around the edges with bad ideas we discarded decades ago.
Jacob Frey wants to solve downtown crime by enforcing strict curfew laws. He thinks you wouldn’t notice that he wants to take us back to a time that disproportionately criminalized young people of color, and jettisoned more people into the criminal justice system. Tom Hoch’s regressive first public safety plan didn’t align with Minneapolis values, so now he’s hidden it under a plan that mirrors what I’ve been doing for the last four years.
I’m not having it.
Instead, I’ve been bringing law enforcement, neighborhoods, non-profits, and business leaders together to take on downtown safety in a 21st-century, progressive manner. Officer foot beats downtown are nine times higher this year than last year. Outreach teams are connecting with young adults and people experiencing homelessness, helping them access the resources they need. And I’m proposing an investment of nearly 650,000 dollars in our forward-looking Nighttime Mobility Management plan, so people can get in and out of downtown safely late at night.
That is us working toward to a better future, not looking back. That is us taking the people of Minneapolis seriously, not underestimating them.
Some of the men running for mayor underestimate you by thinking you won’t notice their condescension and sexism.
Like every woman in this room, I’ve been condescended to before. As a City Council Member, I fixed a broken pension system that had exploited retirees and overcharged Minneapolis taxpayers. But on the way to that victory for our city, a senior legislator all but patted me on the head and sent me on my little way, explaining, wrongly, why the status quo had to remain in place. That wasn’t the first time, nor the last, that a politician mansplained to me an issue that he understood less than I did.
I’ve put up with a fair bit of mansplaining over the last few months, as well—from men running against me who, a week before the election, somehow still have no idea how our city budget or tax levy work.
Every year I’ve been mayor, I’ve been proud to submit budgets that are not just balanced over one year, but structurally balanced over five years. Because I know how the city budget works! My commitment to financial stability has enabled Minneapolis to successfully tackle big problems in our city.
Most of all, my budgets focus on the right priorities. I believe we will grow our city by investing public resources in the common good. But if my big money opponents prevail, we will return to the bad old days of taxpayer funded corporate welfare for every campaign donor ready to write a big check. If they had been in charge, a permanent taxpayer subsidy for the soccer stadium (and the owner of the Star Tribune) would have been the first subsidy, but it would not have been the last.
The two men running for mayor on my right underestimate you because they think you don’t notice this. They’re condescending to you as much as they are to me. But we do notice.
And they underestimate you with gendered, sexist language like “let’s get our swagger back,” or “we need a better cheerleader.” First of all, I’m the best cheerleader this city has. And what they hope you won’t notice is that their gendered language really means: “stop talking about our challenges, and “stop being a downer about race.”
To them, “swagger” means going back to the old days of not addressing the biggest challenges we face as a city.
Some of the men running for mayor underestimate you when they offer up my ideas and the work I’m already doing—or some contorted versions of it—as original plans of their own. I’m proud that we’re big on recycling in Minneapolis, but reusing my ideas does not qualify.
Tom Hoch has been talking a lot about how 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 headed the downtown business association.
Jacob Frey thinks we should come up with a plan to end homelessness for families and youth in five years—when we’re already implementing a plan through Heading Home Hennepin to end it in three.
Or how about when Jacob Frey took to the pages of the Star Tribune with his big new idea that law enforcement and community trust aren’t mutually exclusive—an idea which I’ve been championing with real investment and real results throughout my term as Mayor. I offer as evidence that his so called “new idea” is something we as a community have been talking about for the last four years. Look at any of my State of the City speeches or budget speeches—for the last four years.
Let’s take a closer look at Jacob Frey. He claims he’s an alternative to me, but there’s no evidence for that. He’s spent the last year criticizing my leadership, but for the last four years, he’s followed my lead.
He voted for all three of my budgets, offering no significant amendments. He voted for Medaria Arradondo, my choice for permanent police chief. He voted for my version of the minimum wage increase, after promising a tip penalty for six months but then never offering it. He voted for my financially sound version of the 20 Year Parks & Streets Investment Plan with real money, only after originally supporting the financially irresponsible quick-fix political gimmick that I vetoed—twice. The list goes on and on…
When I was a City Council Member, I took on tough fights that laid the groundwork for the financial stability and progressive policies that have marked my term as Mayor. During Jacob Frey’s time as a Council Member, he has not offered a single significant piece of policy or budgeting—and now he wants to be mayor. If he hasn’t used the powers he’s had as a Council Member for the last four years to pass progressive policies and improve people’s lives, he won’t have any idea how to use the powers of the mayor’s office to move Minneapolis forward the way that I have.
I should be clear: there are two exceptions to this rule, where he and I differed on a major piece of policy:
First, the first chance he got to vote on on the city’s budget, he voted to strip out my investments in sustainability and equity, just so that people could pay for one more latte a year.
Second, he pushed hard for a permanent tax subsidy for the owners of the soccer team, including the billionaire owner of the Star Tribune. I said no.
Women everywhere know what it feels like to have men take credit for your work or your ideas. I’m confident that the voters of Minneapolis—of any gender—won’t fall for it in this election.
Some of the men running for mayor underestimate you in other ways. One is by trying to be everything to everyone: telling people what they want to hear, depending on the room they’re in.
On minimum wage, Jacob Frey said he believed in a tip penalty, then never introduced one, then voted for my plan to exclude it, then apologized to the business community for doing so while touting his support of my plan to progressives.
Another way to underestimate you is by not saying anything at all and hoping you don’t notice. Tom Hoch’s refusal to support the minimum wage—or even answer the question—speaks volumes.
On every issue, he says he has a plan to come with plans. He actually brags in his mailers that he’ll come up with plans for our city after he’s elected mayor. We’re less than a week away from the election, and we still don’t know where he stands!
To both Jacob and Tom, I say: you’ve had a year to tell us what you’d actually do that’s different, and you’ve failed. The election is next Tuesday! Time is up!
These shapeshifting, deceptive tactics that underestimate you are definitely at play in this race. But they’re not my tactics. I say the same thing to everyone in every room—downtown, Northside, Northeast, Southside, Central; in board rooms, neighborhood meetings, and union halls. You may not agree with me, but I’ve never hidden where I stand from anyone.
This spring, my good friend Council Member Lisa Bender gave me a compliment that really touched me. She said “Betsy, I have seen you speak over a hundred times, in different settings and to different people, and you always say the same thing.” I take real pride in that. I don’t try to be all things to all people. I am who I’ve always been—a tough, tested, progressive leader, fighting for the people of Minneapolis.
III. UNSHAKEABLE FAITH
And we will need to fight with ferocity and with love. The big money, old guard status quo persists because it’s always finding new ways to retain power. So there are new challenges on the horizon: A state legislature that will try to limit our ability to hold to our own values as a city. A president in Donald Trump who does something new each day to hurt cities and the people who live in them.
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. When Republican cuts come, they will not be able to protect the vital services we depend on every day.
When things are tense, we need a leader who knows how to fight through the tension, the discomfort, because they have unshakeable faith that there’s another, better side. I have an unshakeable faith that transformation is possible, because I’ve lived it.
Getting sober, and surviving and healing from childhood sexual assault taught me how to 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.
And I’ve done this over and over again in my time in public service.
The old status quo told me that we couldn’t reform closed pension funds, and I did it anyway.
They told me we that we couldn’t put real money behind our 20-year Parks and Streets deal, and I did it anyway, to the tune of 800 million dollars.
They told me we couldn’t raise the minimum wage without a tip penalty, and I pushed for and won a 15 dollar-an-hour minimum wage for every single person who works in this city.
They told me I shouldn’t care about who’s in the White House, but every single one of us should care. I’m standing up to Trump with real investments that match our values, not his.
And there’s a majority on our current City Council that has been fighting against progressive change every step of the way. They pushed for a tip penalty in our minimum wage, pushed against investments in sustainability, and questioned whether equity should be the work of the city.
But still, I’ve delivered real progressive results for Minneapolis, because comfortable inaction is not in my DNA. Letting a few powerful people make critical decisions for me or for the people of Minneapolis is not in my DNA. I don’t just talk. I don’t rely on hope, though it’s important. I figure out, step-by-step, how we get to where we need to go.
The obstacles that arise along the way are no more than data points for adjusting the map—they don’t stop me from doing what I think is right for the city and the people I love.
IV. ONE MINNEAPOLIS, OUR MINNEAPOLIS
No other candidate for mayor is as prepared as I am to continue to push through obstacles, dismantle the status quo, change the way the city operates, and walk with all of Minneapolis to a better future.
And when we get there, our city will be a place where we all benefit from our success. One Minneapolis will be Our Minneapolis.
- In One Minneapolis—Our Minneapolis—we will ensure 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 to create and preserve affordable housing for the people who need it most, where we need it most.
- Our Minneapolis will become a city that puts environmental justice first; and you know we’ll get there because Northern Metals is finally moving out of the Northside, and I helped win real money for asthma mitigation. I also helped win a state-of-the-art transit station on Lake Street that will provide low-income communities of color with the best transit access to jobs of anywhere in our city. That’s what environmental justice looks like, and that’s why I’m the only candidate endorsed by the Sierra Club and Clean Water Action.
- In Our Minneapolis—everyone will share in our growing prosperity; and you know we’ll get there because 87% of the entrepreneurs I’ve invested in training are people with low-incomes—most of them people of color.
- In Our Minneapolis, we’ll have complete streets that work for everyone; and you know we’ll get there because 40 percent of all streets set to be improved in our 20-year plan are in racially concentrated areas of poverty.
- In One Minneapolis—Our Minneapolis—everyone will feel safe and be safe. And you know with me as mayor we’ll get there because I’ve listened and learned from our community, and invested in programs that help law enforcement and community work together to build public safety and community trust.
So, are we going to continue moving forward to that better, other side?
As I said before, that’s what this election is about.
In how we provide services as a city, in how we think about each other as neighbors in community, in just how widespread the notion is that we’ll only succeed if everybody is set up for success—we are moving forward faster and more intentionally than ever before.
Alongside others, I’ve helped bring that message into rooms where it had been glaringly absent—whether in city hall, the business community, or other levels of government.
The question is—will we make the decision to keep moving forward instead of going back, even as the people who want us to go back are fighting so hard to take us there?
We’ll become the Minneapolis we know we can be a lot sooner when we we stop debating about whether or not real equity is the agenda, and instead, take it as a given and move forward together.
V. CLOSING – WHERE I STAND
On November 7, we have an opportunity to move forward together, because I am a leader who has no intention of letting comfortable inaction pull Minneapolis apart.
I’m a leader who knows that we are in the midst of transforming a set of systems—and one who can navigate that challenge.
Every single day, I use the levers of the mayor’s office to transform the way this city does business. Every single day, I put everything on the line to make change in a system that isn’t used to change, doesn’t want change, and has forces arrayed against change—including a majority on the City Council who have fought progressive change every step of the way.
And in the last year, I’ve done this work in circumstances that four years ago, none of us ever imagined: in fierce opposition to a president of the United States who is actively attacking the very foundations of our freedoms and our democracy.
Against the odds, I have succeeded in making an extraordinary amount of change in the direction we chose as community four years ago.
Have I made mistakes? Yes. Did I ask you for advice on how to rectify those mistakes? Yes. Have I grown? Yes, I have.
I have been through crucibles in my life, and we have been through crucibles together here in Minneapolis. But that just means we know how to change and grow for the better. I use that change and growth in service of the city and the people I love so much.
So, Minneapolis, I humbly ask for your first choice vote on November 7. And if you’ve got your heart set on another candidate, I ask for your second or even your third choice vote.
You hired me to do this work, and I’m still the best person to do it. So really, I ask for your first choice vote.
Thank you for coming tonight, and for following on the live stream.
You know this job isn’t about swagger— It’s about knowing, in your core, just how great the people of Minneapolis are, and it’s about knowing how great Our Minneapolis will be. It’s about the effort and the know-how it takes to get real results. It’s about standing up for the courage of your convictions, no matter who’s listening. It’s about aggressively pushing back against a status quo that wants to push us backward. It’s about knowing that even though not everyone will agree with you, they should always know where you stand.
Here’s where I stand: I stand with Minneapolis—with trans kids, with Muslims, and with small business owners. I stand with you whether you or your ancestors arrived in this country as immigrants, or as refugees. I stand with you if your ancestors formed the first nations in this land, or if your ancestors suffered under the yoke of slavery. I stand with all of our city, whether you wear purple for Prince, for the Vikings, or for Spirit Day … and I stand with the many of you who feel you shouldn’t have to choose. Northside, South Side, from the lakes to the river, we are One Minneapolis, the city we love—and I stand with you.
I ask for your first choice vote on November 7.