Editor's Note: The Third Ward City Council race is shaping up to be one of the most competitive council races for the 2013 Minneapolis election.
Incumbent City Council Member Diane Hofstede is facing competition from Jacob Frey, a civil rights attorney and community organizer.
The new Third Ward — post-redistricting — includes neighborhoods downtown and east of the river, including Bottineau, Sheridan, St. Anthony West, St. Anthony East, Beltrami, Nicollet Island/East Bank, Marcy Holmes, Downtown East, Downtown West and the North Loop.
The Journal is sponsoring a Third Ward candidate forum on Thursday, March 21, 6:30-7:30 p.m., at DeLaSalle High School with the League of Women Voters of Minneapolis.
The new City Council ward boundaries go into effect for the November election. Before the redistricting process, the Third Ward included neighborhoods on the east side and in North Minneapolis. It did not stretch into the downtown area.
Races for city offices are nonpartisan, but the DFL Party has long dominated Minneapolis politics. Hofstede and Frey are seeking the DFL endorsement, and have been actively recruiting delegates for the Third Ward DFL Convention on May 4 at Nicollet Island. To secure the DFL endorsement, a candidate needs 60 percent of the delegate votes.
The endorsing process gets underway at the DFL precinct caucuses on April 16.
Diane Hofstede, a lifelong resident of Northeast, is focused on keeping her seat on the City Council to carry out her ideas for the Third Ward.
Hofstede is seeking a third term on the Council to represent the ward, which has been redrawn as a result of redistricting to include neighborhoods in downtown, northeast and southeast Minneapolis.
When asked about what she likes most about her job, she talked about the partnerships she’s forged in the community and work to address the foreclosure crisis in North Minneapolis.
“The most satisfying thing has been seeing the growth in leadership in our community, and the incredible partnerships I’ve been able to garner with residents, businesses and public safety personnel,” Hofstede said during a recent interview at the Central Library. “I really believe in collaboration and communication. I think that has been one of my strengths — the ability to develop partnerships.”
She also highlighted her work to help people facing foreclosures in North Minneapolis. She said she was one of the first people to recognize the depth of the crisis — primarily in the Hawthorne and McKinley neighborhoods. She said she helped secure $70 million in federal funding to help people avoid losing their homes.
City Council Member Don Samuels (Ward 5), who is running for mayor, is a supporter of her campaign and has praised her work in North Minneapolis.
“The foreclosure crisis, derelict absentee ownership, predatory real estate deals, youth violence, a devastating tornado and the great recession, would have destroyed our community without the collaborative partnership of our Northside coalition on the council,” he said. “Diane Hofstede has made or supported the right decisions needed to deal with each exacerbating dilemma. That is why we are emerging a stronger community and a stronger city.”
While Hofstede speaks with confidence about her work on the Council and vision for the future of the ward, many people — including several of her colleagues on the Council — have criticized her for being an ineffective leader who is slow to respond to constituents. Her office has seen high turnover, too, leading many to question her managerial abilities.
Hofstede, however, is quick to dismiss the criticism, and often cites the debate over the Vikings stadium on the Council as the source of friction between her and other Council members who have decided to support her opponent Jacob Frey.
As for her top priorities for a third term, she has three major focus areas: public safety, economic development and revitalization of the riverfront.
On public safety, she points to her work with Minneapolis Police Department Insp. Bryan Schafer, who now commands the 1st Precinct and previously lead the 2nd Precinct, to focus additional police resources in Dinkytown and soon the riverfront area.
She’s also focused on finding new uses for vacant/boarded properties in the ward. “We want to put them back into use, and back on our tax rolls,” she said.
As for the new Vikings stadium, she said she’s worked to make sure it’s a great asset for the community 365 days a year with connections to the riverfront. She points to her early support of the stadium financing deal — a divisive issue on the council in 2012.
“It was a little lonely at the beginning, but I was confident my colleagues would join me,” she said.
Her priorities for the riverfront include seeing various plans — like the RiverFirst initiative — come to fruition. That proposal calls for a new park on the former Scherer Brothers lumber site. Hofstede said one of her first meetings as a Council member was a trip to talk to the owners of Scherer Brothers to urge them to consider selling it for public use.
She’s said she’s also worked with Dominium, the developer behind the artist loft project at the Pillsbury A Mill, to investigate ways to open the historic tunnels at the site for the public.
Hofstede said she’s long been in awe of the river and its potential.
As for her supporters, Hofstede’s campaign has sent out several press releases touting endorsements from many prominent pubic officials and labor leaders.
State Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL-60A) is also backing Hofstede’s campaign for a third term, citing her work to pass a referendum to make libraries in the city more accessible.
“The result has been the libraries are all able to help close the technology and learning achievement gap that so threatens the ability of our smart but poor kids to keep up,” she said. “She has also knit disparate neighborhoods together to work to address common problems.”
Neighborhood: St. Anthony West
Occupation: City Council Member for Third Ward since 2006
Education: B.S. degree from St. Cloud State University; master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Minnesota. She was also a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Minnesota.
Campaign website: dianehofstede.com