The 2017 Minneapolis mayoral race quietly kicked off this week.
A number of city residents have reported being contacted by a polling company on possible candidates for the city's top political executive job come next November.
Nate Pentz got the phone call around 8:00 p.m. Monday. Pentz, a realtor who's lived in the city for six years, doesn't recall the name of the outfit conducting the survey, but says the questions were all political, and mostly hyper-local.
Some specifically asked about Mayor Betsy Hodges. What did Pentz think about her leadership during the Fourth Police Precinct protests after the Jamar Clark shooting? Had she lived up to her campaign promises to bring "equity" to the city? Was he upset that she'd "chased away" professional soccer to St. Paul?
Next came the questions about the mayor's race in Minneapolis, a race which officially doesn't yet exist. No candidates, Hodges included, have plegded their intentions to run. However, city hall is awash with rumors of potential challengers.
One whisper making the rounds contends Hodges might not even run for reelection at all.
Pentz was queried about five possible DFL contenders:
Minneapolis City Council member Alondra Cano;
Jacob Frey, who, like Cano, is a freshman on the city council;
Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima Levy-Pounds;
State Rep. Raymond Dehn (DFL-Mpls.);
and outgoing Hennepin Theatre Trust CEO and President Tom Hoch.
Is the city on the right or wrong track? Pentz was asked. If the election were today, how likely is he to vote for Hodges? How likely is he to vote for any of the others?
Pentz says his view of Hodges is, overall, "meh," and that he's liked some of her decisions and disagreed with others. He doesn't have a strong opinion on most of her potential challengers, noting that he's aware of Frey “advocating for Northeast, and the North Loop." But to Pentz, it's too early to have a favorite. He doesn't even know who's running for mayor.
Neither do they. City Pages reached out to contact Hodges and the five potential challengers. Tom Hoch did not respond to questions, but the others did.
Hodges said she's aware of a "push poll" running against her, but doesn't know who's behind it.
"Several people have contacted me concerned about [the poll's] right-wing bias," Hodges wrote in an email. "I don't know who commissioned it, but it's clear from the aggressive tone and content of the push poll that whoever is behind it are conservative folks who are opposed to the progressive work I am leading at the city -- they're opposed to the working families agenda; they wanted complete, unprecedented tax abatement in perpetuity for a stadium; things like that."
Levy-Pounds, who recently left her job with the University of St. Thomas law school, responded to questions about a potential mayor's race by texting, "As to my future plans, stay tuned." She added she doesn't know who is behind the polling.
Cano responded via email, saying simply, "I do not plan to run for Mayor in the year 2017."
Dehn, now in his third term representing a north Minneapolis legislative district, also claims to have no idea who's doing the survey. All he'd say about his political plans is, "I'm focusing on winning back the [Minnesota] House [majority] in November."
Frey offered a response via text late Wednesday, writing, "Yes, I was aware of it, but it wasn't my poll." He declined to address any future political intentions.
Hodges, in her email, cited more immediate concerns than an election that would take place one year and a couple weeks from now. The incumbent mayor says she "won't be making any official announcements" until the 2016 general election is over, explaining she's focused on seeing that Hillary Clinton is elected president, and helping Democrats win legislative majorities in Minnesota and nationally.
And as for herself?
"[Y]es, indeed, I intend to run for reelection," Hodges says. "I'm leading good work at the city, and I'm not done."