Minneapolis mayoral hopefuls face off at UMN forum

The Friday forum was hosted by the Law Democrats at the Law School.

Walter F. Mondale Hall on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017.

Carter Jones

Walter F. Mondale Hall on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017.

Max Chao

Around 100 people gathered at the University of Minnesota for a forum of DFL Minneapolis mayoral candidates Friday.

Candidates including incumbent Mayor Betsy Hodges, Rep. Raymond Dehn, DFL- Minneapolis, Ward 3 City Council member Jacob Frey, Nekima Levy-Pounds, Tom Hoch and Aswar Rahman attended the forum, held at Walter F. Mondale hall. They discussed minimum wage, what they can learn from other cities and Minneapolis as a sanctuary city.

“I loved it. The opportunity for transparent democracy is always appreciated,” Frey said.

The forum, hosted by the Law Democrats at the Law School, started with questions from the moderator and then from the audience.

One topic was the city’s minimum wage. While candidates generally agreed raising the minimum wage would be beneficial, there was disagreement among candidates on whether a $15-an-hour minimum wage could work.

“We have to have sustainable growth in wages, and the way to do that is to work with the small businesses and not create an ordinance and expect them to follow it … I fully support raising minimum wages in an intelligent, sustainable way,” said Rahman.

Another major point of discussion was Minneapolis’s status as a sanctuary city.

Every candidate supported Minneapolis’s status as a sanctuary city, saying they would be willing to use their office to disrupt U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids.

“As long as I am mayor, we will have a separation ordinance. As long as I am mayor, we will stand by our immigrant brothers and sisters,” said Hodges.

Every candidate was also asked to differentiate themselves from the other five.

“Although I am here with some of my esteemed colleagues, I don’t see any of them as my opponent. I see my true opponent as the status-quo,” said Levy-Pounds, the NAACP Minneapolis Chapter president.

The event was attended by students, faculty and Minneapolis citizens.

“Frey was the most persuasive, I agreed the most with Dehn, and Pounds was the most honest,” said Nate Rowan, who plans to vote for either Dehn or Levy-Pounds.

Friday also brought an endorsement for Dehn by Rep. Ilhan Omar, DFL-Minneapolis.

The DFL mayoral caucus will be held on April 4.

“Our grassroots campaign is absolutely rocking right now, and we are really pumped about our momentum,” said Frey.