With five candidates now officially declared for the 2017 Minneapolis mayoral election, the race is starting to take shape:

Raymond Dehn, State Representative, District 59B (DFL)
Jacob Frey, Minneapolis City Council Member, 3rd Ward (DFL)
Betsy Hodges, Incumbent Mayor, Minneapolis (DFL)
Nekima Levy-Pounds, Former President, Minneapolis NAACP (DFL)
Aswar Rahman, Filmmaker, Web Designer (DFL)

There are a lot of issues facing the city, and we’re beginning to figure out each candidate’s differences. Here are the biggest issues that separate the candidates:

Minimum Wage

One of the most divisive issues in Minneapolis politics this year was a proposed amendment to the city’s charter that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Over the summer, activists gathered the thousands of signatures necessary to put the amendment on the ballot for the November election. The city attorney’s office ruled the measure wasn’t appropriate as a charter amendment, saying the minimum wage can only be set by an ordinance drafted by the city council. After an expedited court battle, the amendment was scrapped, but the city council ordered research into the local economic impact of raising the minimum wage in Minneapolis.

While all the candidates have expressed support for increasing the minimum wage, the devil is in the details: How should the minimum wage be raised? Should it be raised on a city level, or regionally? Should it be $15 an hour? What about wages for tipped workers? All the candidates would answer these questions differently, and it’s going to be a tough fight in this year’s election.

Racial Equity

Since the last mayoral election in 2013, race-related issues have taken center-stage across the country, and especially in Minneapolis. While all economic indicators point to a remarkable recovery post-recession in the city, communities of color have seen a much higher, largely stagnant unemployment rate. And as affordable housing options continue to thin out, many will look to city leadership for what’s next.

While Mayor Hodges’ re-election website touts several programs and budgetary efforts aimed at tackling these problems, the other candidates see plenty of room for criticism. From park funding to city hiring practices, race-related issues will likely play a big role in the race.

Crime and Policing

It’s no secret that crime is on a lot of voters’ minds this year. The city experienced a spike in violent crime over the summer, especially on the northside and downtown, and voters will look to the candidates for a plan to take on violence and gangs in Minneapolis.

At the same time, Minnesota saw two high-profile police shootings since the last election. Issues of police brutality and racial bias will likely take on a big role in the race — all five candidates brought up these issues in their campaign announcements. As the election continues, they’ll have to walk a delicate line between reducing crime and restoring confidence in law enforcement.

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