Meet top five candidates in a tight race for mayor


Candidates for Minneapolis mayor debate business police at a forum in June. Photo credit: Benjamin Pecka

The Minneapolis mayoral election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 7 and the race has been tight thus far.

There are over 50 candidates in the running this year, but only five are considered to be top contenders for the position. Incumbent Mayor Betsy Hodges seeks to reclaim her role, as well as Jacob Frey, Nekima Levy-Pounds, Tom Hoch and Raymond Dehn.

All five candidates are affiliated with the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party of Minnesota, however the DFL did not endorse any candidate this year.

Minneapolis is a rank-choice voting city.

“Ranked-Choice Voting is a method of voting allowing voters to rank multiple candidates in order of preference. RCV was passed by the voters of Minneapolis as an amendment to the City Charter in 2006 and was first used in the city in 2009. RCV combines the primary and the general election into one event. In Minneapolis, voters may rank up to three different candidates for each municipal office,” according to, the city’s website to educate voters on the process.

The candidates spoke with NPR, who outlined a profile of the forerunners in the election:

Jacob Frey

Jacob Frey speaks at a mayoral forum on how to support Minneapolis business at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Photo credit: Benjamin Pecka

Frey is an attorney who received his post-secondary education at the College of William and Mary and Villanova Law School.

He has worked on pro bono death penalty appeals cases, and founded the Big Gay Race which raised money to appose the the same-sex marriage ban that was defeated by popular vote in 2012.

The main issues that Frey is concerned with are providing affordable housing in the city. He also seeks to ease and fight the long standing racial disparity that Minneapolis has been known for.

Nekima Levy-Pounds

Nekima Levy-Pounds speaks outside the Minnesota State Capitol at a pro-marijuana legalization rally in April. Photo credit: Benjamin Pecka

Levy-Pounds is an attorney and also a professor at the University of St. Thomas Law School and the University of Illinois law clinic. She also started Black Pear, a consulting company that provides business consulting, talent management, and media management services.

After the shooting of Jamar Clark in 2015 Levy-Pounds, led social justice action against police in Ferguson, MO as a legal observer for the National Lawyers Guild. She was also president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, and has worked as an attorney to fight for civil rights for several years.

Levy-Pounds has a five-point plan to combat economic injustice in Minneapolis. She plans to raise the minimum wage, focus on environmental justice for asthma and cancer incidences in North Minneapolis, employment equity, police reform and affordable housing.

Betsy Hodges

Incumbent mayor Betsy Hodges voices her approval of City Council passing a $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Benjamin Pecka

Incumbent Mayor Betsy Hodges was elected mayor in 2013 in a landslide victory with 48 percent of the vote.

Hodges received her education at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania– and graduate school at University of Wisconsin, Madison.

She has worked for Minnesota Justice Foundation, and mental health providers in Albuquerque, NM. Hodges served as the representative for Ward 13 from 2006 until 2014, when she became mayor. She was also one of six city council members to vote against the new U.S. Bank Stadium, which houses the Minnesota Vikings.

Tom Hoch

Tom Hoch speaks at a mayoral forum on how to support Minneapolis business at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Photo credit: Benjamin Pecka

Hoch is a teacher in the Minneapolis Public Schools system and an attorney. He is on the Minneapolis Community Development staff, the executive of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority and a family law attorney. He also led the redevelopment of the State Theater and Orpheum Theater on Hennepin Ave.

Hoch also sits on the Planned Parenthood board, the Animal Humane Society board, the St. Anthony East and Downtown Neighborhood Association board chair and the Downtown Improvement District founder and board chair.

He hopes to keep the Downtown area alive as the main heartbeat to Minneapolis. Hoch also seeks to find non-traditional ways to create affordable housing.

Hoch hopes to be the first openly gay mayor of Minneapolis.

Raymond Dehn

Ray Dehn told the story of his incarceration at a marijuana legalization rally at the Minnesota Capitol earlier this year. Photo credit: Benjamin Pecka

Dehn currently serves in the Minnesota House of Representatives. He is an independent design consultant, and was on the design team that created the cable-stayed sky-way at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport. He received his education at the University of Minnesota.

He was the president of the American Institute of Architecture Students, board member of the American Institute of Architects and was appointed to the Minneapolis Capital and Long Range Improvement Committee by former mayor R.T Raybak.

Affordable housing is his top priority and making sure the city remains safe. Dehn also seeks to restructure the way city council and the mayor interact.