It’s going to be different this time around, Jacob Frey says.
He’s got time, and with time, Frey is confident he’ll put together a strong campaign for the Ward 3 Minneapolis City Council seat.
“We had a committee meeting the other day,” Frey said in November. “We had 75 people there — 75 people from the ward that are ready to knock doors, make phone calls, host meet-and-greets, and these are people that have a forward vision of what our ward is about.”
Frey ran for Minnesota Senate in a special election in 2011 against well-financed and well-known names in Northeast Minneapolis: Kari Dziedzic, Paul Ostrow and Peter Wagenius. He had just a few week to slap together a campaign. The results were rough for the young, political newcomer from northern Virginia: He got just 8 percent of the DFL vote.
Frey, a 31-year-old Nicollet Island resident, will challenge another established opponent for City Council in Ward 3: two-term incumbent Diane Hofstede, a lifelong resident who shares a last name with former mayor Al Hofstede (her brother in-law).
Frey is one of several Minneapolis residents who have already announced they are running for City Council in 2013. While elections are still a year away, races are heating up fast because the DFL plans to endorse candidates this spring.
Challengers have already announced campaigns in Ward 7 (see sidebar) and Ward 10 against Lisa Goodman and Meg Tuthill, respectively.
The Ward 3 race is bound to be an interesting one. Its boundaries have changed substantially following redistricting. It no longer includes North Minneapolis, but has added the eastern half of downtown, the North Loop, a large swath of University of Minnesota student housing and Northeast neighborhoods like Sheridan, Bottineau, Beltrami and St. Anthony West.
Ward 3 will have a mixed bag of constituents, including young professionals in the North Loop, empty-nesters downtown, college students in Marcy Holmes and families in Northeast.
Hofstede says she can handle the challenge. Ward 3, she said, has always been diverse. That’s why, following her 2005 election, she convened residents from all of her neighborhoods to a summit in which they identified common priorities at City Hall. She says she’ll do the same thing again.
“I have already began to have conversations with the communities about where their focus is and where they want to take the neighborhoods, and I will be initiating a similar kind of strategy like this going forward,” Hofstede said.
Frey said he won’t “sling mud” in the election, and declined to critique Hofstede’s seven years in office. Hofstede has taken criticism for running a disorganized City Council office and for her vote to support a public subsidy-package for a new Viking stadium.
Hofstede defended those criticisms, and touted some of her accomplishments while in office.
When the forceclosure crisis hit North Minneapolis a few years ago, Hofstede said she initiated forums in the Hawthorne neighborhood to figure out ways to stop foreclosures.
“That began, not only a local discussion about how we could work with the banks to prevent foreclosure, but also a national discussion,” she said.
Hofstede said she played a key role in forming what is now the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership, a nonprofit corporation that she says has helped facilitate revitalization along the riverfront.
The Star Tribune reported that in Hofstede’s first six years in office, she went through 26 aides. Aides told the newspaper that Hofstede was hard to work with.
“I didn’t have 26 aides, that was just was exaggerated,” said Hofstede, who noted that some of the aides counted in the Star Tribune’s tally were volunteers, interns and temporary employees who were filling in for a former aide who was struggling with health issues. That aide, Hofstede said, has since died. One of her current aides has been on the job for about three years, she said.
Hofstede said her achievements prove she is a competent leader.
“If I am so disorganized and incapable, how was I able to do this? I think my achievements speak for themselves,” she said.
Frey has quickly made a name for himself in Minneapolis. A marathon runner, Frey started the Big Gay Race in 2011 and repeated it in 2012. That race took place in Northeast in September and raised money to defeat the marriage amendment in November.
Frey, an attorney, helped Holland neighborhood residents fight a proposed hazardous waste facility in the neighborhood in 2011. Frey’s also done pro bono work to help Somali women and North Minneapolis tornado victims.
“I won’t just be a filter,” Frey said. “I am going to take action to make sure our neighborhoods are better for the long-haul.”
Frey said one of his biggest priorities will be bringing and keeping families in Ward 3.
“I’d like to bring families back into the ward,” said Frey, noting that a lot of young couples will move out of the area when they have kids. “It doesn’t make sense for anybody to just surrender that population to Southwest or Edina.”
Frey said he would abide by the DFL endorsement. Hofstede wasn’t as direct when asked if she would drop out if Frey won the endorsement.
“Well, I guess we’ll have to see,” she said. “I’m planning on it. I’m planning on getting it.”