Frey leads pack of mayoral hopefuls

Ward 3 City Council Member Jacob Frey led with 25 percent of first-choice votes Tuesday night. The ranked-choice voting runoff will decide a winner in the mayoral election.

Jacob Frey addresses the crowd during his Election Day party at Jefe: Urban Hacienda on Nov. 7.

Courtney Deutz

Jacob Frey addresses the crowd during his Election Day party at Jefe: Urban Hacienda on Nov. 7.

Madeline Deninger and Cleo Krejci

In a crowded field of mayoral hopefuls, Jacob Frey led Minneapolis’ election late Tuesday night. 

Tuesday’s election was the city’s highest municipal election voter turnout in two decades, and Frey, the Ward 3 City Council Member, sported 26 percent of the vote out of 16 candidates. Tom Hoch and incumbent Mayor Betsy Hodges received 19 and 18 percent of first-choice votes, respectively. State Rep. Raymond Dehn sat in fourth place, receiving less than 18 percent of first-choice votes. 

Tuesday’s election was the third ranked-choice municipal election Minneapolis has held.

“We feel good. The numbers aren’t all in yet, we’re cautiously optimistic at this point. But clearly, we still have some counting to do,” Frey said in an interview Tuesday night. 

Frey maintained an ample lead throughout the night as results trickled in.

Standing atop a Jefe Urban Hacienda bar top, Frey spoke to supporters. To the crowd of more than 100 lively supporters, he said, “Things are looking pretty damn good right now.” 

At Hodges’ election party at the Gandhi Mahal restaurant, she gave a speech to around 50 supporters. 

She admitted prospects looked grim, but noted the election could still swing in her favor and focused on her past work in her speech.

“And here’s another thing we know — that the people of Minneapolis and this city is an extraordinary city, and we have done some extraordinary things together in the last four years and that we have the hearts and the minds of the people in Minneapolis,” she said. 

Hodges departed the party after her speech. As the night wore on, a projector displaying live election results was taken down. 

State Rep. Raymond Dehn finished fourth in first-choice votes on Tuesday night — a disappointing finish for a candidate who gained the most support at the city’s DFL convention in July. 

More than 50 people showed up to Dehn’s election party at Du Nord Craft Spirits. As election results trickled in, the mood in the room quickly grew somber, though Dehn and supporters still had hope for the remaining results. 

“We’re looking at the numbers, and there’s still a path for victory,” Dehn said. 

Because no candidate gained a first-round majority, election officials will begin redistributing votes over a series of rounds on Wednesday. After each round, the candidate with the smallest number of votes is eliminated. 

University of Minnesota student Adi Penagonda, a member of Dehn’s campaign, voiced disappointment over the early results, but said the election brought more students out to vote. 

“We’re getting record turnouts in student precincts, and that’s something that had never happened before,” Penagonda said. “It feels good to see people in these precincts getting involved.”

This year’s election saw high overall voter turnout, along with record early voter turnout in the city. 

As many as 100,000 people turned out to polling places in Minneapolis Tuesday.

Frey, 36, first took office as Ward 3 City Council member in 2013. Ward 3 encompasses part of Marcy-Holmes, Dinkytown and downtown neighborhoods. While on the council, Frey’s focus on development brought rapid growth to his ward — drawing praise but also concerns of gentrification. 

Frey, alongside other council members, passed a citywide minimum wage increase ordinance over the summer. He also co-authored the city’s sick and safe time ordinance that passed in May 2016. 

Throughout Hodges’ first term as mayor, she faced criticism over police-community relationships — including the high-profile shootings of Jamar Clark and Justine Damond.

In the days leading up to the election, Damond’s husband endorsed Frey.

Max Chao and Kelly Busche contributed to this report.