Minneapolis Mayor Frey calls for unity in inaugural address

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Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey made note of the city’s diversity and called for unity in facing the city’s challenges during his inaugural address.

Crowds filled the City Hall Rotunda for the public Inaugural Ceremony, which came a few days after the mayor and city council members officially took office on Jan. 2.

“Today, we come together to collectively recognize that the time for talk alone is over, and progress cannot be achieved without a clear action-oriented approach,” Frey said.

Frey vowed to pour his energy into tackling issues like police/community relations, economic inclusion and affordable housing. He referenced the city’s past of intentional residential segregation.

“We didn’t get here by accident,” Frey said. “So we can’t expect to address these problems without solutions that match the precision of the harm inflicted.”

Protesters briefly interrupted the ceremony, chanting ‘rent control now’ and unveiling a banner. 

“I heard them, loud and clear. And that’s really the message, we hear them, and we do have an affordable housing crisis and we hear them loud and clear,” Frey said when asked about the protesters. “I think there are other options that are far more viable and effective, but I want to sit down at the table with everyone.”

Council Changes Leadership

The mayor wasn’t the only city leader to take a ceremonial oath of office. The 13 members of the City Council did as well, including newly-elected members Steve Fletcher, Phillipe Cunningham, Jeremiah Ellison, Andrea Jenkins and Jeremy Schroder. Cunningham and Jenkins made history as the first transgender people of color to serve in the office.

After the inaugural ceremony, members headed to the council chambers to select new leadership. Cunningham defeated former Council President Barb Johnson in the election. Members unanimously chose Lisa Bender as the new president, and Andrea Jenkins as the new vice-president. 

“I sat down with each and every council member many times, and asked them what did you campaign on? What did you hear from your community when you have thousands of conversations in your ward,” Bender said. “It’s that’s work of figuring out, how can each and every single council member in this council be supported and particularly the ones who are coming from wards where we really need to empower and elevate that council member so that the community there can thrive.”

To that end, Bender pushed through a new committee structure, adding a committee on Housing and Policy Development, and a subcommittee on racial equity. Jenkins said the new structure would allow members to put actions behind their words.

“We have discussed the gaps and the racial inequities in our city in our culture, in our country, ad infinitum. It’s time to get to work,” Jenkins said.

Mayor Frey said he welcomed the changes at the council. He has worked to improve relationships between the mayor’s office and council members and staff.