MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The city of Minneapolis has decided its mayor.

After hours of counting ballots Tuesday night and Wednesday, city council member Jacob Frey emerged the winner. In speaking with reporters following his victory over incumbent Betsy Hodges and 14 other candidates, the 36-year-old said that he’s honored to represent “the greatest city in the whole damn world.”

The first issue on his agenda: mending division.

“We have been a divided city in so many respects,” he told reporters. “Division between police and community, division between businesses and activists, we’ve even had division in the DFL party…Right now, more than ever, we need bridge builders. Collectively, we all need to come together and recognize that while we may deviate slightly in strategy we still share the same overarching goals.”

Frey Speaks With Reporters After Election Victory

The 2017 mayoral election was the city’s third with ranked-choice voting, which lets voters list their top three choices in order of preference. Tuesday’s election results came in notably quicker than the previous election in 2013, which saw ballot counting continue for several days.

The tabulation process began bright and early Wednesday morning at the Early Vote Center in downtown Minneapolis. It took five rounds for the winner to be declared.

On the first round, the results of which were released Tuesday evening, Frey was in the lead with 26,116 first-place votes, followed by Tom Hoch with 20,125 and incumbent Betsy Hodges with 18,915.

By the fifth round, however, Hodges and Hoch had both been eliminated for not having enough votes from those selecting on their second or third choices.

The final tally was Frey with 46,716 votes to State Rep. Raymond Dehn with 34,971.

Turnout for the election was unexpectedly high, with more than 100,000 ballots cast. That translates to about a 43 percent voter turnout.

The DFL did not endorse a candidate in the mayoral race. Hodges has been in office since Jan. 2, 2014. She released a statement Wednesday afternoon, congratulating Frey on his victory.

“I told him that I know he loves Minneapolis and I am committed to a smooth transition,” she wrote, adding that during her term Minneapolis made progress toward transforming the police department and a $15 minimum wage.

Dehn, who also congratulated Frey Wednesday on his victory, said on Twitter that the election highlighted the urgent need for action on issues facing the city, such as housing, policing and environmental justice. The Northside resident said he’s looking forward to working with Frey from his position in the state government.

Nekima Levy-Pounds, a civil rights activist and lawyer who won more than 15,000 first-choice votes, did not congratulate the mayor-elect.

Shortly before the tabulation was complete, she wrote to her Facebook followers, saying that Frey took money from developers and was able to greatly outspend her campaign. Even so, she maintains her results speak for themselves.

“Jacob spent over $600,000 in the race for Mayor,” she wrote. “Our campaign spent just over $41,000. Lol!”

In speaking with reporters Wednesday afternoon, Frey thanked his competitors, naming Levy-Pounds, Hodges and Dehn, among others.

“They are some really good people who are doing some extraordinary work,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that work will continue well into the future, because I’m going to be calling on them to help.”

At 36, Frey will be Minneapolis’ second-youngest mayor.

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