Jacob Frey pledges to be ‘visible leader’ in bid for Minneapolis mayor

The Ward 3 Council Member has some Dinkytown business owners on his side.

Ward 3 Council Member Jacob Frey poses for a portrait on Hennepin Avenue on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2017.

Carter Jones

Ward 3 Council Member Jacob Frey poses for a portrait on Hennepin Avenue on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2017.

Mike Hendrickson

Jacob Frey is clear on why he’s running for Minneapolis mayor.

“I’m not about keeping the seat warm,” Frey said. “We need a visible leader who is willing to use the position as a bully pulpit, delve into controversial issues, build a coalition and get things done.”

In an age of political divisiveness, with a gridlock at the state and federal legislature, Frey said the city of Minneapolis needs a different leader than incumbent candidate Mayor Betsy Hodges.

The 35-year-old Ward 3 city council member announced his bid for mayor Jan. 3, and while he’s young, he embraces criticism of his age, selling himself as a hard worker.

“I’m extremely results-[oriented]. I don’t want to be somebody. I want to do something,” Frey said, adding that he has a meticulous work schedule.

“We have the entire day divided into 30 minute increments,” Frey said. “20 minute meetings, five minutes of staff direction and then five minutes of me answering emails.”

During his time on the Council, his ward — encompassing Dinkytown, Marcy Holmes and part of downtown Minneapolis — has seen a hefty amount of development.

Frey’s critics have argued that his focus on development constitutes gentrification, but that’s not how he sees it.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” Frey said. “The development I have pushed for … [has] generated tax revenue … and it’s contributed to a ton of small, local business growth.”

In his time as a council member, Frey said he is most proud of the increased density in residential housing and his fight for affordable housing.

He pointed to the development of Riverton Community Housing and new affordable housing in North Loop as a positive example of cooperative living.

Ward 2 City Council Member Cam Gordon, who works with Frey on a committee and as members of the University District Alliance, said the two have always maintained a positive working relationship.

“We get along well,” Gordon said. “He’s been a great partner in helping work with the University making sure we serve everybody in the neighborhood, not just the students.”

Kristen Eide-Tollefson, co-owner of The Book House in Dinkytown, has worked with Frey over the course of his term, and said Frey has grown over his years in public office, and has come to understand the wide variety of constituents in his ward.

“I have watched him evolve into quite a sensitive and responsive council member,” she said. “He understands how passionate people are and that we are a force in trying to save the character, identity and quality of life in Dinkytown.”

The density and height in residential housing isn’t an area where Frey and Eide-Tollefson see eye-to-eye, she said, but the two communicate openly when various Dinkytown development proposals come up.

Another Dinkytown owner —Randal Gast, who owns Qdoba and is the president of the Dinkytown Business Alliance — said he could see why some people may have a problem with Frey’s development agenda, but appreciates how Frey carries himself.

“He’s been a good listener, he knows how to compromise and understands there’s two sides to everything,” Gast said. “I may not have liked the results … but he’s very straight-up.”

For Eide-Tollefson, she knew Frey’s run for mayor would come one day; the pace of the mayoral race will begin to pick up in April, when the precinct caucuses take place.

“He’s a very savvy and appropriately ambitious politician,” Eide-Tollefson said.