Mayor Betsy Hodges: Minneapolis Can Be ‘More than Just a Great City’

In inaugural address, new mayor says to be One Minneapolis, we must also ‘heed the call to become a great people’

January 6, 2014 (MINNEAPOLIS) — Newly-inaugurated Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges today called on Minneapolis to be “more than just a great city.”

“That is our call, Minneapolis,” said Mayor Hodges. “To be more than just a great city, to be a new city: shining as a beacon brightly enough to show our nation and the world that when we come together as a people, in government and in community, it is possible to be transformed.” 

Mayor Hodges delivered her inaugural address Monday morning in the historic Rotunda of Minneapolis City Hall as the mayor and City Council were sworn in to new four-year terms. In her address, Mayor Hodges spoke of three major goals to help make Minneapolis more than great: growing the city, running it well and eliminating the gaps between white people and people of color.

The newly sworn-in mayor ran her campaign upon a promise of eliminating the gaps between white people and people of color. In her address, Mayor Hodges echoed that promise saying “…it must be possible for white people and people of color all to thrive in one city and in one region, and that we in Minneapolis would be the ones to do it.”

As people filled the space in the Rotunda, they listened to Mayor Hodges outline her ambitious goal to grow Minneapolis to more than half a million people, and her vision of thriving communities in every neighborhood.

“It also means that in every part of Minneapolis, we must maintain and grow the middle-class backbone of our city,” continued Mayor Hodges. “That backbone is the envy of every other city in the country. It has kept us strong and will make us stronger.”

Mayor Hodges acknowledged that as she begins her first term, the city of Minneapolis is in strong financial shape. She spoke of her plans to continue running the city well as a strong fiscal steward.

“We must continue to keep a firm hand on the tiller… even in the face of temptation: the pull to restore what has been lost must be tempered by the knowledge that our taxpayers have lost as well. The same principles that carried us through the challenges of the last decade must be the principles that guide us through recovery.”

When it comes to the third imperative, of ending the gaps that separate white people from people of color, Mayor Hodges acknowledged that “we’ve been good at some aspects of doing this work, but we haven’t been great. And we need to be more than great. And a crucial component of being more than great is acting like One Minneapolis as we become One Minneapolis.

“Being more than great at ending these disparities is the smart thing to do, because when we do it, there will be no limit to our growth or to our greatness as One Minneapolis. But it is also the right thing to do.”

Mayor Hodges ended her speech by encouraging people to “think bigger about ourselves and our city,” with an “imagination for ourselves that includes everyone, every neighborhood.”

“When we heed that call,” Mayor Hodges continued, “when we head together toward something bigger than ourselves, and by so doing find one another — that moment is when we become more than just a great city. It’s when we become a great people. That, Minneapolis, that is our true call.”

During her address, Mayor Hodges paused for a moment in remembrance of the three people lost in the Cedar-Riverside New Year’s Day fire; she also wished a speedy recovery to Mayor R.T. Rybak, who was unable to attend Monday’s inauguration after suffering a heart attack Saturday.

Mayor Hodges was joined by the 13 newly sworn-in members of the City Council. City Council President Barbara Johnson also delivered remarks. State Senator Scott Dibble delivered the welcome, with invocation by Rabbi Michael Adam Latz of Shir Tikvah Congregation and benediction by Rev. Dr. Alfred Babington Johnson of the Stairstep Foundation. The colors were presented by Minneapolis Police and Fire Honor Guard, led by Police Chief Janeé Harteau and Fire Chief John Fruetel.

Musical performances were delivered by J.D. Steele, who sang the National Anthem, and Ava Szychalski and Sam Durben of the MacPhail Center for Music.

The program also featured a poem titled, “Minneapolis: A City in Verse,” with contributions from a number of area poets and spoken-word artists. Contributions came from: Brian Beatty, Paula Cisewski, John Colburn, Heid Erdich, Ed Bok Lee, Bao Phi, Kirk Washington, Jr., Alison Broeren, Nimo Farah, Sarah Fox, Andrea Jenkins, Juliet Patterson, Sun Yung Shin, and Doug Wilhide.

Read the full text of Mayor Hodges’ inaugural address as prepared for delivery.

Last updated Jan 6, 2014