Council Member Betsy Hodges represents Ward 13 on the Minneapolis City Council. She chairs the Ways and Means committee and serves on several others, including Transportation & Public Works and Public Safety. She currently lives in the Linden Hills neighborhood. This is her first elected office in Minnesota. Ms. Hodges served on the Linden Hills Neighborhood Council for four years and was co-chair for two years. She is also the President of the League of Minnesota Cities.
Councilwoman Hodges defined her job in two ways. First is to ensure the city government works well. This includes making sure basic services such as garbage, snow plowing, business licenses, police and fire are all available to citizens of the ward. This includes having a “sound financial policy” that keeps these services running. Second is to have a “big vision” for Minneapolis and Ward 13.
Ms. Hodges first ran for the Minneapolis City Council in 2005. She said running for office involved having a “lot of coffee” with various members of the community for two years before entering the race. She said that running for the council involved much retail politics and was “as local as it gets.”
When asked about some major accomplishments she could point to during her time in office, Ms. Hodges focused on three points. The first accomplishment involves development. Councilwoman Hodges was able to pass a measure tying the size of a lot to the size of a home. This was an attempt to cut down on the amount of “McMansions” in the ward. The second accomplishment was an ordinance requiring large events in Minneapolis to recycle their waste. For her third accomplishment Ms. Hodges talked about the major reforms to the city pension system that she and others have worked on over the past six years. Ms. Hodges said that these changes, which merged closed pension funds with state funds, saved $20 million in one year and saved Minneapolis taxpayers 2% on property tax levies.
Regarding some issues that are still a work in progress Councilwoman Hodges brought up two issues. The first was preparing Minneapolis for the effects of climate change by retrofitting office buildings and looking at how the city uses energy. The second was fixing the Local Government Aid program, which Ms. Hodges said has broken down over the last decade.
Asked to name what she likes best about Ward 13, Councilwoman Hodges said she enjoys the lakes and the people, who she said were “very active” in local governmental affairs. She also cited the strong small business community in which her neighbors have invested.
Councilwoman Hodges said two things shaped her journey into local politics. First was a professor during her college days who stated that the vast majority of the many thousands of elections that occur in the US every two years are local. Second was a conversation with a trusted colleague who asked her to run for the City Council in 2002. This occurred after the death of Senator Paul Wellstone (DFL) that year, which galvanized her thinking on the matter. Councilwoman Hodges said that the best way to get involved in local politics is to volunteer for a local campaign.
Councilwoman Betsy Hodges represents Ward 13 on the Minneapolis City Council.