Incumbent Diane Hofstede, running for a third term, and Jacob Frey, an attorney who said he is passionate about community service, have announced their candidacy for the 3rd Ward Minneapolis City Council seat. Hofstede lives in the St. Anthony West neighborhood; Frey lives in the Nicollet Island East Bank neighborhood.
The precinct caucuses are April 16, and the Ward 3 DFL convention will be May 4. Because the Nov. 5 general election uses Ranked Choice Voting, there won’t be a primary. The election will include every city council seat and the mayor’s seat, the Board of Estimate and Taxation, and three at-large and Districts 1-6 Park and Recreation commissioner seats.
Redistricting after the 2010 census changed the Third Ward considerably; it lost two Northside neighborhoods, McKinley and Hawthorne, and the Como neighborhood in Southeast. Ward 3 includes four Northeast neighborhoods: St. Anthony East, St. Anthony West, Beltrami, and Bottineau, and one Southeast neighborhood: Marcy Holmes (which includes the Dinkytown part of the University of Minnesota campus). Nicollet Island East Bank, North Loop, and Downtown East and West complete its district map.
Frey, who grew up in the state of Virginia, ran unsuccessfully for the Minnesota Senate in 2011. The District 60 seat became vacant after Larry Pogemiller stepped down before his term ended; Kari Dziedzic won in a special election. “I learned a lot from that race,” Frey said. “I’m all about creating an organization of talented, committed people with a forward-thinking mentality that I can rely on to get the job done.”
Frey’s parents are former professional ballet dancers. He too is an athlete, a distance runner who won an athletic scholarship to William and Mary College. He tried out for the Olympic team (sponsored by a shoe company) and ran in the Pan Am Games. “I had a lot of down time when I was running. I started doing community service in Detroit, Washington DC and northern Virginia. When I got involved in trying to help some renters who were being evicted, I found out I didn’t know enough about the law to actually help them.” That led him to law school and Minneapolis, he said, where he got a job at Faegre and Benson. He now works for Halunen and Associates in downtown Minneapolis; the firm specializes in civil rights and employment litigation.
When the marriage amendment was on the ballot last year, Frey protested it by organizing the Big Gay Race, which was actually two races in October, 2011, and September, 2012. The September race drew about 7,000 people. He also worked with Anj Ronay Johnson, founder of the Northeast Votes No group, which also opposed the marriage amendment. Frey won the city’s 2012 Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for his civil rights work and has been active with Isuroon, a Somali women’s rights group founded by Fartun Weli, who is the director. He said he helped tenants facing homelessness after the North Side tornado, and advocates mandatory mediation for foreclosure victims in Minneapolis and St. Paul. He has been involved with Project Homeless Connect.
Frey said he is running for city council because “This is very much a new Minneapolis. I’m running because the next 10 years will be a very crucial time for the city.” He said he is concerned about Minneapolis’ population loss; “We used to be a city of 600,000, now it’s 380,000. I believe economic issues and safety concerns have detracted from the vitality of what our city can be. In downtown, we are missing the middle population, the families. I am a proponent of retaining families in the ward and attracting families to the ward. These people are moving out; there is a perception that our schools are not up to par, and there is a lack of children’s amenities.”
Frey said he intends to run a positive campaign, and will support the DFL-endorsed candidate for the council seat, even if he does not get the endorsement. “I am used to returning phone calls,” he said. “We need a city council member with the energy and enthusiasm to be a staunch advocate for our neighborhoods and who will help bring about the ‘new’ Minneapolis.”
Hofstede worked as a financial advisor to a national investment company and chaired the Minneapolis Public Library Board before winning the Third Ward council seat in 2005. She said she is running again because “so many things that have happened in the ward have been extremely positive.” She intends to continue focusing on public safety, community development, and the Mississippi riverfront.
“We are changing as a community. Part of that is the establishment of Northeast’s riverfront entertainment district.” She said she has worked with the Minneapolis Police 2nd Precinct and the Northeast Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce to add more public safety officers in the area during peak times, and has also worked with East Hennepin and Dinkytown neighbors on safety strategies. “When I first took office, I interviewed a number of developers who said, ‘If you don’t get a handle on public safety, you will never get businesses that you want in here.’”
She said she addressed the issue of problematic businesses, such as Johnny A’s bar on West Broadway, and Wafanas convenience store in North Minneapolis, which helped pave the way for more desirable establishments in the area. “We have to change our acceptance of [unsuitable] behavior. Marshall Street [in Northeast] now has robust businesses, smaller businesses, moving in, setting down stakes in our funky, artsy community. We’ve been written up in the New York Times.”
She was pleased, she said, that the city was able to get $8 million from the state to finish the work on the Plymouth Bridge. “We were able to get it in one of the legislature’s worst years. It was an opportunity to reduce vehicle traffic and the number of traffic lanes and increase pedestrian traffic and bikeways.”
On the Northeast side of the river, she said, “Our infrastructure is really in good shape, with the B.F. Nelson Park, Boom Island, the Sheridan neighborhood’s veterans memorial park, and the Scherer Brothers property.” She said that when she heard Scherer Brothers Lumber might move its retail operation out of Northeast, she asked the owner to call her office before they made any changes. (The business owned 13 acres on Eighth Avenue NE, which it sold to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board in 2010.) “The river is the front porch of our city,” Hofstede said. “We need to expand recreation opportunities to access the riverfront.”
She said that securing Minneapolis’ AAA bond rating was very important. “It is really critical for taxpayers to keep the taxes down, and we were able to pass on a considerable savings to property owners. We also negotiated the retirement pension plans, which had been a burden on the city. We needed to ensure they would go into the future. We’ve really pulled in our belts.”
“We have to bring new businesses in and make a more urban environment. We can use the Vikings Stadium as a synergistic opportunity for transit, bikeways and city parks. We need to be sure our hotels are full and that people come to our city. If people have a reason to come here, they will come.”
She said being the 3rd Ward City Council member is a “great job. It is a great ward with a lot of challenges. We have many opportunities, and it is very energizing, it fills me up, seeing people so engaged.” Hofstede said that she intends to support the DFL-endorsed candidate for the 3rd Ward council seat, even if she does not receive the endorsement at the May 4 convention.