Hodges advocates for workers, transgender people, and education in state of the city speech

Mayor Betsy Hodges gives her second State of the City address at the American Swedish Institute on Thursday.

Image by Amanda Snyder

Mayor Betsy Hodges gives her second State of the City address at the American Swedish Institute on Thursday.

by Benjamin Farniok

 In her second annual State of the City address on Thursday, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges prioritized worker’s rights and economic equality. 

Among her proposals, Hodges said she wants all workers to earn more sick leave, prevent wage theft and require workplaces to offer fairer scheduling practices.
She also used the speech to push her support of transgender people, environmental initiatives and improving the city’s education systems.
Ward 8 Councilwoman Elizabeth Glidden said she strongly supports Hodges’ plan to provide more sick leave for workers.
“It really is an important safety issue,” she said.
Members of 15 Now, a national group dedicated to increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour, were present at the event. 
Hodges mentioned a minimum wage increase in her speech, but emphasized that she wants the changes to come at a national or regional level.
Ty Moore, an organizer for 15 Now, said while he was happy Hodges addressed workers’ rights, he was disappointed she didn’t say she supports a citywide minimum wage increase.
“We are disappointed that she is not clearly backing the call for a $15 minimum wage,” he said.
Hodges also called for changes to the city’s education system, including moving forward with a Cradle to K Cabinet initiative, a program to reduce educational disparities for children in the Twin Cities.
She said she was developing the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge to ensure that young men and boys of color are able to access educational opportunities. 
“I have spent a lot of time talking about the fact that Minneapolis has the biggest disparities between white students and students of color in the country,” Hodges said Thursday.
Hodges said fighting climate changes is another top priority.
Ward 2 Councilman Cam Gordon said Hodges’ focus on climate change was important, adding that he has frequently pushed for the city to spread environmentally friendly policies.
“We are actually seeing a lot more progress on local levels, and cities are leading the way,” he said.
Gordon also said he supported the message of economic and racial equity, which was a major emphasis in Hodges’ speech. However, he said he would have liked to see
Hodges address the “Black Lives Matter” movement as a part of the discussion on race in Minneapolis.
Hodges also said she supports transgender rights and wants to make Minneapolis a safe place for transgender people.
“Transgender people experience some of the worst levels of violent crime, hate crime, discrimination in the workplace and in public, stereotypes and ignorance of any group in this country or in the world,” she said.
Also at the speech, Hodges announced that Andrea Jenkins, a former policy aide for a councilmember, will become an oral historian for a project to document the stories of transgendered people for the University of Minnesota Libraries.