These days the best-known street in Minneapolis is still a dusty, muddy tangle of partitions and plywood boardwalks.
But Mayor Betsy Hodges told her city Tuesday that better days are drawing near for Nicollet Mall – and all of Minneapolis.
In her State of the City speech Hodges used the years-long makeover of the downtown pedestrian mall as an example of her speech's main point: working through discomfort is leading to a better future in Minneapolis.
Hodges conceded the renovation that has torn up downtown's central spine for a couple years has brought pain to some in Minneapolis. But she also promised Nicollet Mall will be a destination again within a year, concluding "We all will benefit from this transformation — including those who are feeling the most discomfort right now. It will be good for all of us."
Other discomfort, too
Hodges used the same good-for-us-in-the-long-run theme in describing some other changes in the city:
- the upcoming requirement that businesses have to give paid sick time to their workers
- changes in the police department that are meant to improve public trust in law enforcement
- the work to make housing more available in every price range
The mayor told her audience at a mosque on the city's north side that all of those things bring some discomfort but are putting the city on a path to a stronger future.
She called her speech "One Minneapolis: Transition and Triumph" and you can read the whole thing here.
Hodges also called out President Donald Trump. She said giving her State of the City speech at Masjid An-Nur mosque was one way to show "We stand with our Muslim community, as President Trump singles them out for attack and unfairly-targeted policy.”
A batch of political opponents
Hodges' strategy of urging patience through an uncomfortable transition is sure to be tested on the campaign trail this summer.
She's up for re-election as she finishes her first term, and Hodges faces a longer-than-usual list of challengers for an incumbent in the Democratic stronghold of Minneapolis.
They include Ray Dehn, who serves in the Minnesota House; Jacob Frey, who is on the city council; Nekima Levy-Pounds, who used to head the Minneapolis NAACP; Tom Koch, the former CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust; and filmmaker Aswar Rahman.
While she's not exactly a political opponent, one prominent city official who has recently clashed with Hodges is Police Chief Janeé Harteau. MPR News reports Harteau was not on hand for Hodges' speech Tuesday, with a spokesperson telling the network the chief had another commitment.