MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has launched his campaign for re-election. Frey is in his first term as Mayor after serving on the Minneapolis City Council representing Ward 3.

During his time in office, Frey has dealt with a pandemic, the death of George Floyd and riots that left a section of the city nearly destroyed. A rise in gun violence has also plagued his last years in office.

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Frey’s campaign announcement included endorsements from Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, the Teamsters Joint Council 32 labor union, former Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, and other city leaders.

“I have an unabating faith in our city,” Frey told WCCO’s Reg Chapman. “After two years of unprecedented progress and then one year of unprecedented challenges, one thing is exceedingly clear to me and that’s we have an opportunity ahead of us and I want to make sure that opportunity is realized.”

When he was first elected in 2017, Frey promised to bring people together to solve problems. In office, he invested in affordable housing and initiatives to help the cities homeless.

Still, his first term was marked two major challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic left many businesses closed and hundreds of people without work. In response, he made Minneapolis one of the first cities in Minnesota to issue a mask mandate. He also funneled relief money to small businesses and those experiencing homelessness.

Then the police killing of George Floyd sparked a national reckoning with racism and police brutality. Nights of rioting in Minneapolis left hundreds of buildings damaged, some completely destroyed. Frey and Gov. Walz criticized each other about who believed they were too slow to bring in the National Guard to help as the riots went on.

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“Immediately after George Floyd was killed by our police officers, I called for charges and we terminated the officers involved,” Frey said.

Since Floyd’s death, Frey has worked with Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo to enact reforms, at odds with the majority of the Minneapolis City Council, which pushed to defund and dismantle the police department. Frey then became a target for activists who want the police department abolished or cuts to its funding.

“We faced one crises that has been sandwiched on top of another — from global pandemic to an economic downtown to massive city shortfalls to the killing of George Floyd to subsequent unrest. This has been a really tough year and there is no doubt about it, but I’ve taken so much inspiration from our community and I can tell you we are going to get through this,” Frey said. “I started the term and there was 55% compliance rate with body cameras. Now it’s a 95% compliance rate. We revamped our sexual assault policy. We were the first city in the United States to ban warrior-style training.”

Frey and his allies support a both-and approach that leaves the police budget where it is while increasing funding for other violence prevention programs.

“I appreciate everybody’s input, whether that’s saying nice things or it’s going after me a little bit, that’s the very nature of being mayor is that you are bound to get attacked from all different sides,” Frey said. “It hasn’t exactly been pleasant to be mayor, that’s been clear. But I love the city. I’m raising a family here and I want to make sure the city she is living in in five, 10 and 15 years from now is one of the emblematic values that we both share.”

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All 13 City Council seats are up for re-election in November.

Reg Chapman