Grading Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges' first year


Coming into the job a year ago, Betsy Hodges had a hard act to follow.

Outgoing Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak used his "outsize personality" to be a relentless cheerleader for the city, according to City Council President Barbara Johnson, while Hodges has a lower, more reserved profile.

But as she closed out her first year as the mayor of Minnesota's largest city, Hodges is getting high marks for her handling of some major challenges.

MPR News describes her as a savvy politician who was able to reach a compromise with the Metropolitan Council on a route for the Southwest Light Rail line, which will pass through the city's popular chain of lakes area as it connects downtown Minneapolis with Eden Prairie.

Residents of the neighborhood strongly opposed the plan, but Hodges worked with council members to come up with a compromise to keep the project on track.

MPR News notes that Hodges didn't characterize it as a victory, because it is still not embraced by neighbors in the area.

"I understand why people are disappointed, and I understand why people object," Hodges said, according to MPR. "But we were called upon to move forward."

Hodges was thrust into the middle of the #pointergate controversy in early November, when a story by KSTP-TV questioned whether the mayor was flashing a gang sign while posing for a photo with an election canvasser.

The story quickly took on a national profile, most of it critical of KSTP and the police officers who raised the issue.

Hodges didn't comment on it publicly for nearly a week. That strategy was by design, she told MPR.

"It allowed me to go about my business, because other people were saying what needed to be said," said Hodges.

Another hashtag debate over what was called the #lattelevy broke out over the mayor's proposed budget and some changes the City Council considered, which would have saved property taxpayers about $3 per year. In the end, much of what Hodges had proposed made it to final approval.

Speaking of hashtags, Mayor Hodges has attracted quite a following on her Twitter feed, which she uses to send out an inspirational quote every day, and to answer her critics on occasion.

MPR News has a look at her Twitter habits.

Hodges said she expected her first year in office to be a "foundational year," focused on building relationships and planning for the future, according to the Star Tribune.

She has several goals for the city she's just beginning to tackle, including narrowing the income, employment and health gaps between white residents and those of color.

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