Meet the Minneapolis mayoral candidates

Minneapolis mayoral candidates spoke with the Minnesota Daily about the issues they care about.

by Emalyn Muzzy

The Minnesota Daily emailed six mayoral candidates about what issues they plan on tackling first and if they support or oppose the three city questions.

For the city questions, the first one on the ballot is to redefine the mayor’s role as the chief executive officer and the city Council as the legislative body. The Yes 4 Minneapolis question will ask voters about shifting funding from the Minneapolis Police Department to a new Department of Public Safety. The third question addresses whether the city Council or civilians could vote to place a cap on rent increases.

Jacob Frey (incumbent)
Party: DFL
Background: Frey is the current mayor of Minneapolis after being elected in 2017. Before that, he served on the City Council as the Ward Three representative.

What issues do you plan on tackling first? “Two overarching issues remain of foremost importance: enacting a comprehensive, accountable safety system and recovering from the global pandemic and resulting economic downturn while maintaining inclusion at the center of our policies. As for safety, I have been consistent in supporting a both/and approach to public safety, including a deep culture shift within our department, expanding safety responses beyond policing and ensuring adequate staffing of community-oriented officers. Economic recovery must include opportunities for ownership in communities of color.”

Frey supports the executive mayor-legislative council structure.
Frey opposes the Yes 4 Minneapolis city ballot question.
Frey supports authorizing the city Council to enact a rent control ordinance.

 

Sheila Nezhad
Party: DFL
Background: Nezhad received her master’s degree from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, helped draft the Yes 4 Minneapolis ballot question, worked as a policy analyst for Reclaim the Block and helped create the Office of Violence Prevention in 2018.

What issues do you plan on tackling first? “I will take bold action to improve our public safety system by increasing violence prevention funding, youth programming and expanding our options of who we can call for help … I will prioritize starting participatory budgeting so residents have a say in how our city dollars are spent to meet community needs. Finally, I will work with BIPOC environmental justice organizers to facilitate a just transition of the Roof Depot and Upper Harbor Terminal sites.”

Nezhad opposes the executive mayor-legislative council structure.
Nezhad supports the Yes 4 Minneapolis city ballot question.
Nezhad supports authorizing the city Council to enact a rent control ordinance.

 

Nate Atkins
Background: Atkins received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. He is currently a customer service and warranty manager at CentraHomes.
Party: Libertarian

What issues do you plan on tackling first? “Require police carry professional liability insurance, decriminalize all drug use & possession, end qualified immunity, end civil asset forfeiture and end no-knock warrants.”

Atkins supports the city question that would implement the Executive Mayor-Legislative Council structure.
Atkins opposes the Yes 4 Minneapolis ballot question.
Atkins opposes authorizing the city Council to enact a rent control ordinance.

 

AJ Awed
Party: DFL
Background: Awed received his undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota. He currently works as an attorney at the American Arbitration Association and is the Executive Director of the Cedar-Riverside Community Council.

What issues do you plan on tackling first? “The first thing this city needs to address is public safety and what the future of the police department is going to look like. This city is at a crossroads. If elected, I want to make sure that whatever choice is made is put into action
and that the people of Minneapolis can start to feel safe and heal no matter what.”

Awed supports the ballot question that would implement the Executive Mayor-Legislative Council structure.
Awed opposes the Yes 4 Minneapolis ballot question.
Awed supports authoring the city Council to enact a rent control ordinance.

 

Clint Conner
Party: DFL
Background: Conner worked as a lawyer for Dorsey & Whitney, has provided legal services to those who could not afford a lawyer and worked with Walter Mondale. He’s also served on a handful of community organizations, including the Lowry Hill Neighborhood Association.

What issues do you plan on tackling first? “The mayor’s primary responsibility is public safety. Our city charter gives our mayor ‘complete power over the establishment, maintenance and command of the police department.’ The mayor is the city’s ombudsman and top advocate. The mayor must participate in civic activities, meet with community leaders, and do what is necessary to hear and understand the concerns of city residents. In my view, the mayor should prioritize giving voice to the voiceless and advocating for those in the community who have been marginalized.”

Conner supports the ballot question that would implement the Executive Mayor-Legislative Council structure.
Connor opposes the Yes 4 Minneapolis ballot question.
Connor supports the question that would authorize the city Council to enact rent control ordinances.

 

Jerrell Perry
Party: For the People
Background: Perry is currently the director of operations at Arnold P. Williams Community Outreach Center.

What issues do you plan on tackling first? “We have no choice but to act on multiple fronts all at one time, bringing all hands on deck and assembling an entire team to tackle what lies ahead of us. We are used to saying we don’t have the money, but we received $135 million last May and are set to receive another $135 million this coming May, in addition to our regular city budget, and God has blessed our city with a unique opportunity to do so many things to change the lives of so many people and families around our city to secure the future of our children. We will tackle investments in public safety, education, housing and homeownership, youth/young adult outreach, small business reconciliation and ownership, as well as public health, including environmental protections.”

Perry opposes the ballot question that would implement the Executive Mayor-Legislative Council structure.
Perry supports the Yes 4 Minneapolis ballot question.
Perry supports the question that would authorize the city Council to enact rent control ordinances.

These interviews have been edited for length and clarity. The Minnesota Daily reached out to all other mayoral candidates but they did not respond. Caleb Hensin contributed to this report.