Hofstede, Frey race heats up

They’re fighting for the Mpls. City Council ward that includes the U area.

Incumbent Minneapolis City Councilwoman Diane Hofstede talks to guests at a meet and greet Tuesday, March 5, 2013, at a Nicollet Island home in Minneapolis.

Emily Dunker

Incumbent Minneapolis City Councilwoman Diane Hofstede talks to guests at a meet and greet Tuesday, March 5, 2013, at a Nicollet Island home in Minneapolis.

Brian Arola

Diane Hofstede says her enthusiasm for improving Minneapolis is as strong as ever.

The two-term city councilwoman is seeking a third chance to serve Dinkytown and parts of Northeast, as well as the recently added downtown area.

But she’ll face competition as Jacob Frey, a young attorney who ran for the state Senate in 2011, looks to match that energy and take her 3rd Ward seat.

Hofstede has garnered at least 65 percent of the vote in the past two elections, but Frey hopes he can change that with student support.

Both candidates have been aggressively campaigning and have picked up a slew of endorsements from nearly every political level in the state.

Four city councilmembers have endorsed Frey, while three others have backed Hofstede.

With the DFL caucus and its resulting party endorsement just over a month away, both candidates are filling their schedules with meet-and-greets and fundraisers.

Frey was on the University of Minnesota campus last week, meeting supporters at fraternities, Blarney Pub and Grill and in the North Loop for a campaign event.

Frey said even he’s surprised at how much support his campaign has attracted so far.

“We’ve got some very intense and excited supporters,” he said, “and I hope to keep it that way.”

Hofstede has been shoring up support of her own. She met with supporters at a friend’s house on Nicollet Island on Tuesday night.

She said campaigning is good exercise, and she’s been trying to get a wide range of people involved.

“A campaign needs to always include everyone at the table,” she said.

Collecting endorsements

Hofstede has support from numerous labor unions, including the electrical, iron and carpenters unions.

In an endorsement letter to Hofstede, Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council President Dave Ybarra said she’s an important asset to the city of Minneapolis.

She’s also received endorsements from former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, state Rep. Phyllis Kahn and three of her fellow councilmembers.

Kahn, who represents the University area, said Hofstede is incredibly hard-working and has been willing to listen to her concerns for the district.

Councilman Don Samuels said he supports Hofstede because she’s been a strong partner on many initiatives that have helped get the city through a tough recession.

“She has high standards and expectations for the community,” he said. “She hasn’t wavered in her commitment that our part of the city should be as safe and prosperous as any other.”

Samuels said Hofstede’s sense of urgency on issues sets her apart from some of her peers.

Hofstede said she’s happy with the support she’s gained so far.

“They’re organizations [and people] whom I respect, and they respect me,” she said.

Frey’s endorsements come from state politicians, including Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, and Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, as well as business leaders and four current city councilmembers.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Glidden said Frey’s work in the community, including organizing the Big Gay Race, has shown he could cut it on the Council.

“At the end of the day, you have to be somebody who has attention to detail, who returns those calls from constituents and tells them they’re valued,” she said. “I think those are characteristics of Jacob’s that will serve him pretty well being an engaged and effective councilmember.”

In a press release, Dibble said Frey’s leadership style will serve him well on the Council.

“Jacob offers the type of fresh, activist-oriented leadership residents of the 3rd Ward are looking for,” he said.

Frey said endorsements are nice, but gaining delegates and votes is what he’s focused on.

“Our campaign is not a trickle-down political approach,” he said. “Our campaign is very much about grassroots organization.”

Engaging students

Voter turnout in University districts has historically been low in City Council elections — the ward’s University-area voting precincts had 4 and 11 percent turnout rates in 2009 — but both candidates said students are an important part of the political equation they hope to engage.

“It’s a ward that’s always had a fair number of students and young people,” Hofstede said.

She said she’s worked hard on public safety issues, which are important to students as they’re a population often targeted for robberies.

She said the 3rd Ward is a booming area with developments popping up everywhere and that housing is another issue she’s worked on that’s important to students.

Hofstede said she knows students who come to Minneapolis fall in love with the city just like she has, and keeping those people in the city is a priority for her.

Frey has held several campaign events near campus and said he wants student voices heard in city government.

“Students are part of the community,” he said. “… to exclude them from the process is to devalue the potential for them to settle here.”

Frey said he’s been making an effort to meet all the students who support him, and some have taken notice.

Advertising and business marketing junior Katie Krippner said she loves how accessible Frey has been, which led her to join the University student group Students for Jacob Frey.

“I support him because he works to get students involved,” she said. “He cares what we have to say.”

Frey said his last meet-and-greet was focused on keeping young people in Minneapolis, which he says is crucial to its future.

“You want to retain intelligent, forward-thinking people in the community,” he said, “and it’d be stupid to exclude them.”