By Esme Murphy


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Later this week, the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul will be presenting their budgets for 2020. Both are halfway through their first terms, so we thought it would be a good time to see if they’re making the grade.

WCCO’s Esme Murphy presents her mid-term report card for Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. (She graded St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter on Tuesday.)

During his 2017 campaign, then-City Council member Jacob Frey said, “I believe that affordable housing should be in every neighborhood in the city.” Recently he reiterated, “Affordable housing is my passion.”

On his number one issue of affordable housing we give Mayor Frey an A. As part of the controversial 2040 Plan, Minneapolis became the first city in the country to put an end to exclusive single-family zoning citywide. It is a move being watched across the nation.

“There are mayors around the country, councils around the country, that are asking how exactly Minneapolis did this,” he said.

The mayor also pushed through a $40 million fund to subsidize low income housing.

On crime, we give the Mayor a D. His first year, violent crime dropped 20%, but in 2019 its up 11%, with a more than 20% increase in downtown Minneapolis alone. The mayor says that’s why he is calling for a significant increase in patrol officers, a proposal that, in a rare show of unity, is also backed by the Minneapolis Police Chief and the President of the Minneapolis Police Federation.

On police-community relations, we give the Mayor a B. When he came to office in the aftermath of the Justine Ruszczyk Damond and Jamar Clark shootings, the relationship was at a low point. The mayor repeatedly pushed for a tougher body camera policy, and officers’ use of body cameras has jumped from 50% to over 90%.

On sustainability, we give the Mayor an A. In 2018, Minneapolis (like St. Paul) won a $2.5 million climate change grant, and Frey has offered a 2030 goal for 100% citywide use of renewable electricity.

One area WCCO’s Murphy gives Frey demerits is the condition of downtown Minneapolis. In one of his campaign videos, he walked across a barren Nicollet Mall, saying “Nicollet Mall has been through a great deal of construction lately.” The Mall, even after a $50 million dollar facelift, looks pretty much the same, store fronts are empty, and construction in the city’s core can make traveling a few blocks painful.

“Road construction in many of these cases is not just desired, it’s essential if we want to keep our city running,” Frey said. “Retail is alive and well. We are about to open the Dayton’s Project in a year or so. We are on the right track.”

Overall, the mayor gives himself positive grades.

“I think we are doing really well,” he said.

Murphy said obviously these grades are subjective, but for an explanation, see the full report card below:

Esme Murphy

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