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Yes, there's an election: Your guide to the 2017 Minneapolis mayoral race

16 people are running, and police reform is a big issue.

There are a lot of people challenging incumbent Betsy Hodges to be the next mayor of Minneapolis. 

Right now it's not clear if there's a front runner in the race the Star Tribune calls "hotly contested," with the paper noting the outcome is unpredictable due to ranked-choice voting (how the process works here) and little polling of voters. 

And because of ranked-choice voting, there are a whopping 16 people on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Unless you follow politics religiously, you've probably only heard of a handful of the candidates. That's why we're here to help – below is an overview of the top candidates and where they stand on one of the main issues: police-community relations.

We're focusing on five

Yes, there are 16 candidates in the race, but you can be pretty sure the winner will come from a group of five. 

These five are the only ones who've raised at least $20,000 apiece in campaign contributions, according to the most recent campaign finance reports.

Those candidates – who are all registered as Democrats but none have the party's endorsement – are: Raymond DehnJacob FreyTom HochBetsy Hodges, and Nekima Levy Pounds

Policing is a key issue

In cities across the country people are talking about how to improve police-community relations and the same goes for Minneapolis. 

It's been a hot topic in recent years in the wake of the fatal police shootings of Jamar Clark in 2015 and Justine Damond in July (which led to the ouster of former Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau), and has been a main focus during mayoral candidate forums and debates leading up to the Nov. 7 election. 

All the candidates for mayor – a position that makes them directly responsible for the police department – have said there are problems with the current culture of policing that needs to be addressed. 

Here's what each of the five candidates is saying they'd do about police reform if they were to win.

Raymond Dehn

Experience:Dehn, who has his masters in architecture from the University of Minnesota, was first elected as the state representative for District 59B in 2012. 

Police reform: Dehn says the culture and structure of policing needs to be reshaped. One of his ideas is to demilitarize and "disarm" police, suggesting we rethink whether every officer needs to carry a gun in every situation.

This thought is among the 15 actions in his plan to change policing, which also includes: prioritizing de-escalation; a zero-tolerance policy for instances of excessive force and brutality; preferentially hiring officers who live in Minneapolis because they'll be the ones who feel connected to the community they serve (only 8 percent of officers actually live in Minneapolis, he says); and fully supporting protests by restricting police use of chemical agents and other tools. 

Other priorities: Affordable housing, close the racial income gap, improve public education and public health, invest in public transportation. 

Jacob Frey

Experience: Frey, a lawyer and long-distance runner, was elected to the Minneapolis City Council in 2013, representing Ward 3. 

Police reform: Frey said in a recent debate that "community policing needs to be more than just a catchphrase."

He lays out a bunch of ideas for police reform and improving police-community relations on his website. Among them: Frey wants to incentivize officers to live in Minneapolis, as well as implement an "enhanced beat cop system" so residents and business owners actually get to know the cop who is patrolling where they live and work.

He also wants to change use-of-force policies to hold officers more accountable, and have officers go through de-escalation and implicit bias training "continuously through their time on the force." 

Other priorities:Affordable housing, small businesses, clean energy, immigrant rights. 

Tom Hoch

Experience: Hoch is the former chairman of the Minneapolis Downtown Council and played a major role in the Minneapolis arts community as the head of Hennepin Theater Trust. 

Police reform: Hoch said during this week's debate that "we need to completely change the culture" of the department by working with neighborhoods so 90 percent of all residents have confidence in police. 

That's one of the three broad objectives he lays out on his website for police reform. His plan to do this includes a top-to-bottom review of the department; reform the civilian review panel to give it subpoena power, and release all decisions publicly; and create community-oriented partnerships. 

Other priorities: Affordable housing, grow the local economy, support local artists, limit the impact road construction has on quality of life. 

Betsy Hodges

Experience: Hodges was elected mayor of Minneapolis in 2013. She previously represented Ward 13 on the Minneapolis City Council.

Police reform: Hodges is proposing investing more than $4 million on strategies to continue building trust and making sure people feel safe. 

She lays out accomplishments and other ideas for police reform on her website, including expanding the body camera program; investing in community liaisons so the community is represented in the precincts; and hiring Chief Medaria Arradondo, who she says is widely trusted.

Other priorities:Eliminate racial disparities, inclusive growth in terms of affordable housing, jobs, and public transit. 

Nekima Levy-Pounds

Experience: A civil rights attorney, activist, and former president of the Minneapolis Chapter of the NAACP. She convinced herself to run following the Jamar Clark shooting.

Police reform:During a debate, Levy-Pounds said the Minneapolis Police Department has a history of "chronic abuse" that needs to be changed, which would include public oversight and input on police policies. 

She pointed to the two officers who shot Clark as an example – both had excessive force allegations in their past, but were still hired.

Her website says she wants to stop talking about criminal justice reform and start taking action to address things like police-community relations, unfair treatment and profiling of minorities, and rates of recidivism.

Other priorities:Environmental justice, address economic inequality, $15 minimum wage, affordable housing, improve public schools. 

The other candidates

The 11 other people who are running are: 

Troy Benjegerdes is passionate about cryptographic currency (the first practical example of this is Bitcoin), he told KARE 11

Al Flowers is a community organizer who's running on issues like police reform, education and transparency. 

Charlie Gers, who identifies himself as a member of the Libertarian Party, wants to give Minneapolis voters options outside of DFLers. 

Gregg A. Iverson, a former MnDOT employee and teacher, told KARE 11 he's running because elected officials aren't doing the best they could. 

Ronald Lischeid told KARE 11 he's running to restore people's confidence in city government and give people a non-DFL candidate.

L.A. Nik is an author and entertainer who calls himself the "Mayor of Minneapolis After Dark."

Aswar Rahman is running to better represent the values of the people in Minneapolis, and on his website he's encouraging people to vote for Jacob Frey. 

David Rosenfeld is the chairperson of the Socialist Workers Party in Minnesota, who wants to establish a workers and farmers government that'll abolish capitalism, KARE 11 reports

Ian Simpson is running on the idea that the world needs more ideas to make things better. 

Captain Jack Sparrow, who has ran for mayor and Hennepin County Commissioner in the past, wants to put an end to poverty. 

David John Wilson is campaigning for mayor to encourage more people to vote and to remind people there's actually an election this year – and he's using a bicycle with a unicorn named Votey McVoteface to do it. 

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7 and you can vote early in person in downtown Minneapolis.

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