Voter Guide: Mayor

Updated: October 27, 2017 - 4:29 pm

The 2017 Minneapolis municipal election has drawn 16 candidates, including Mayor Betsy Hodges, who is seeking to continue her work for a second term.

Hodges is one of eight candidates who have gotten the most attention from voters and the media and who are regularly invited to mayoral candidate forums. Among the most debated issues this election cycle are police accountability, access to affordable housing and the city’s business climate as new minimum wage and sick and safe time ordinances take effect.

Hodges, a former Ward 13 City Council member elected mayor in 2013, listed all three of those issues as top priorities for a second term, as well as eliminating racial disparities and continuing the city’s environmental initiatives. She describes herself as a “tested, progressive” leader who has helped to defend the city against the policies of President Donald Trump.

On the campaign trail, State Sen. Raymond Dehn often talks about the second chance he got after a burglary conviction 40 years ago, noting that as a white man he benefitted from an unfair system that he intends to help dismantle. He promotes a long-term approach to public safety that focuses on intervention before people enter the criminal justice system, and other top priorities include affordable housing and creating an environment outside the classroom that helps all students succeed.

Community activist Al Flowers lists police reform, housing and economic development among his top priorities, and if elected would also work to end poverty and make the city more welcoming to all people. Noting that he used to be who made “a lot of noise and shut … down” public meetings, Flowers said he has spent the last few years listening to the city’s diverse voices and understanding their shared concerns.

Ward 3 City Council Member Jacob Frey is pledging a “fresh start” for the city, and would focus on police reform, affordable housing and growing small business jobs if elected. Frey said he is the candidate to “bridge the divides between workers and business and police and grieving communities.”

Tom Hoch also lists public safety and police reform, affordable housing and “inclusive economic vitality” as his top priorities and, noting his experiences as CEO of the Hennepin Theatre Trust and deputy executive director of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, says he has “most well-rounded experience of any candidate in this race.”

Activism earned civil rights attorney and former University of St. Thomas professor Nekima Levy-Pounds a place in the headlines, and the former Minneapolis NAACP president maintains she is best positioned to tackle the city’s stubborn disparities. In addition to affordable housing and police reform, she lists economic opportunity, environmental justice and education as top priorities.

Aswar Rahman, a filmmaker and business owner who is the youngest candidate in the race, has pledged to cut wasteful spending and refocus the budget on vocational training, early childhood services and stabilizing property taxes. He also lists stronger civilian oversight of police as a top priority.

Captain Jack Sparrow, who is retired but has a history in housing and anti-poverty activism, lists the elimination of poverty, violence prevention and environmental issues, including limiting climate change, as his top priorities. He argues the “unequal distribution of wealth” contributes to the city’s problems, including crime.

Past mayoral race coverage:

Hodges to announce re-election campaign

Dehn to run for mayor

Civil rights activist Levy-Pounds enters 2017 mayoral race

Jacob Frey enters mayoral race

With an eye on the budget, young filmmaker joins mayor’s race

Tom Hoch joins mayor’s race

Six candidates meet in first mayoral forum

Mayoral candidates talk taxes, business and banking

Minimum wage, housing barbs highlight mayoral forum

Mayoral candidates discuss homelessness



Ray DehnRaymondDehn

Neighborhood: Jordan

Current job: State representative, District 59B (representing the southern half of North Minneapolis, Bryn Mawr and Downtown)

Endorsements: Minnesota Nurses Association, Our Revolution National, Minnesota Young DFL, Southside Pride, DFL Environmental Caucus, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Karen Clark, Board of Education directors KerryJo Felder and Kim Ellison, former Board of Education Director Jill Davis, former University of Minnesota Student Body President Abeer Syedah

Experience: State representative since 2012; 2012 Bush Fellowship recipient; member of the Bottineau Light Rail Policy Advisory Committee and the Capital Long Range Investment Committee; overcame addiction and a 1976 burglary conviction, earning a pardon and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Minnesota

Fundraising total: $60,261 (Jan. 1, 2016–July 25, 2017)


Facebook: /RaymondDehnForMinneapolis

Twitter: @raymonddehn


Al FlowersAlFlowers

Neighborhood: Powderhorn Park

Current job: Communications and outreach director for AWMIN

Endorsements: None listed

Experience: Former small childcare center owner; founder of United Black Legislative Agenda; member of a federal mediation committee; hosted local TV and radio shows.

Fundraising total: $2,447 (Jan. 1, 2017–July 25, 2017)


Facebook: /mplstruthtothepeople

Twitter: @alflowers


Jacob FreyJacobFrey

Neighborhood: East Bank/Nicollet Island

Current job: Ward 3 City Council member

Endorsements: Stonewall DFL Caucus; council members Alondra Cano and Abdi Warsame; DFL environmental caucus (co-endorsed) and DFL Disability Caucus (co-endorsed); AFSCME; Teamsters; Building Trades Unions; UNITE Here; Painters and Tapers; Laborers; 49ers

Experience: City Council member, civil rights attorney, marathon runner for Team USA

Fundraising total: $558,636 (Jan. 1, 2014–July 25, 2017)


Facebook: /JacobFreyForMpls

Twitter: @jacob_frey


Tom HochTom Hoch, candidate for Mayor Minneapolis MN 9/17./2017.

Neighborhood: Lowry Hill

Current job: Candidate for mayor

Endorsements: “I have the vocal support of thousands of Minneapolis residents in every neighborhood in the city.”

Experience: Hennepin Theatre Trust, founder and former CEO; Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, former deputy executive director; Minneapolis Downtown Council and Downtown Improvement District, former chair; former Minneapolis Public Schools teacher; former board member with Animal Humane Society, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Open Book, St. Anthony East Neighborhood Association, Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association, Minneapolis Urban League Capital Campaign and Meet Minneapolis

Fundraising total: $215,738 (Jan. 1, 2017–July, 25, 2017)


Facebook: /TomHochforMinneapolis

Twitter: @TomHochMpls


Betsy HodgesBetsyHodges

Neighborhood: Lyndale

Current job: Mayor

Endorsements: womenwinning, Emily’s List, Outfront Minnesota, SEIU, Sierra Club, U.S. Sen. Al Franken, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, Sen. Steve Cwodzinski, Sen. Scott Dibble, Rep. Jean Wagenius, Hennepin County Commissioner Debbie Goettel, Minneapolis City Council members Lisa Bender and John Quincy, Minneapolis Park Board members Brad Bourn, Steffanie Musich and Scott Vreeland, Board of Estimate & Taxation President David Wheeler

Experience: Mayor of Minneapolis since 2014; Minneapolis Ward 13 council member 2006–2014; development director, Progressive Minnesota; aide to Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman; fundraiser, Minnesota Justice Foundation

Fundraising total: $377,768 (Jan. 1, 2014–July 25, 2017)


Facebook: /MayorHodgesForMinneapolis

Twitter: @MayorHodges


Nekima Levy-PoundsNekimaLevyPounds

Neighborhood: Hawthorne

Current job: Attorney at law and small business owner

Endorsements: Sen. Patricia Torres Ray; Cameron Gordon, Ward 2 City Council member; Pastor Brian Herron, senior pastor, Zion Baptist Church; Reynolds-Anthony Harris, founder and managing director, Lyceum; Nathaniel Khaliq, former President, St. Paul NAACP; Vicky Davis, founder and former executive director, Summit U Education Consortium and former education chair, State Conference NAACP; Michael Ford, executive director, MN NORML; Titilayo Bediako, executive director, WE WIN Institute

Experience: Attorney in family law, domestic violence and civil rights law; former tenured law professor, University of St. Thomas; former president of the Minneapolis NAACP; served on the boards of The Minneapolis Foundation, Catholic Charities, Growth and Justice; co-chair of Everybody In; former chair of the Minnesota Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Fundraising total: $25,932.22 (Jan. 1, 2016–July 25, 2017)


Facebook: /nekimaformplsmayor

Twitter: @nvlevy


Aswar RahmanAswarRahman

Current job: Small multimedia business owner

Neighborhood: Marcy-Holmes

Endorsements: None listed

Experience: Served in crime prevention and juvenile diversion with the Minneapolis police department; served in the office of Mayor R.T. Rybak in youth policy and college awareness.

Fundraising: $13,625 (Jan. 1, 2017–July 25, 2017)


Facebook: /aswarformayor

Twitter: @aswarformayor


Captain Jack SparrowCaptainJackSparrow

Neighborhood: Powderhorn

Current job: retired

Endorsements: None listed

Experience: Organized intentional communities, co-housing projects and collective businesses; involved in the co-op movement; cofounder of People United for Economic Justice (Housing Now) and Up and Out of Poverty; Minnesota and National Coalition for the homeless, board of directors; founding member of Occupy Homes.

Fundraising total: $100 (Jan. 1, 2017–July 25, 2017)


Facebook: n/a

Twitter: n/a


Other candidates

The Voter’s Guide focuses on the eight candidates for mayor who are generally considered the top candidates, those who received the most attention from potential voters and the media and were invited to candidate forums. But there are eight others seeking the mayor’s office this year:

Gregg A. Iverson, DFL

David Rosenfeld, Socialist Workers Party

Tony Benjegerdes, Farmer Labor

David John Wilson, Rainbows Butterflies Unicorns

Charlie Gers, Libertarian Party

L.A. Nik, independent

Ronald Lischeid, People Over Politics

Ian Simpson, The Idea Party