By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There are more than a dozen candidates who have said they’d like to be the next mayor of Minneapolis. On Monday, with just over one week to go before Election Day, WCCO invited four top contenders to be part of a lively discussion on the future of the city.

The candidates were incumbent Mayor Jacob Frey, community organizer Sheila Nezhad, former state representative Kate Knuth, and court mediator A.J. Awed. No candidate was given the questions in advance, and producers generated a randomized order for the candidates to answer each question.

What follows is a topic-by-topic recap of the debate segments.

Public Safety Ballot Question

Largely driven by the police murder of George Floyd, it is widely considered to be the most important and controversial issue on the ballot. Listed as Question 2 on the ballot, it asks if the Minneapolis City Charter should be amended to remove the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a Department of Public Safety that “employs a comprehensive public health approach.” This question has been the subject of several court challenges and changes in wording.

Briefly, when asked if they support this question, the candidates answered as following:

Nehzad: Yes
Knuth: Yes
Frey: No
Awed: No

RELATED: Minneapolis Ballot Guide: Controversial Public Safety Ballot Question

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‘Strong Mayor’ Ballot Question

This is perhaps one of the lesser-known proposals before Minneapolis voters. Question 1 would change the city’s form of government and clearly define the mayor as the city’s chief executive and the Minneapolis City Council as the legislative and policymaking body. The Executive Committee that oversees city department heads would be eliminated.

Briefly, when asked if they support this question, the candidates answered as following:

Knuth: No
Frey: Yes
Awed: Yes
Nehzad: No

RELATED: Minneapolis Ballot Guide: Proposed Amendment Would Shift Certain Powers To Mayor

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Rent Control Ballot Question

Minneapolis has never implemented a rent control ordinance, but ballot Question 3 could change that. It would amend the City Charter to authorize the Minneapolis City Council to regulate rent on private residential property.

Briefly, when asked if they support this question, the candidates answered as following:

Frey: Yes
Awed: Yes
Nehzad: Yes
Knuth: Yes

RELATED: Minneapolis Ballot Guide: Proposed Amendment Would Create Pathway For Rent Stabilization

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Crime In Minneapolis

There’s no debate, crime is on the rise. We are currently on pace to surpass our previous record of 97 homicides in a year set in 1995. In North Minneapolis, shootings are a regular occurrence. WCCO debate moderator Reg Chapman testified that he has seen first-hand the impact violence has on the city’s citizens. The four candidates were asked to lay out their long-term solutions to fighting crime.

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How To Get Downtown’s Groove Back

Downtown Minneapolis still is struggling to bounce back from unrest and the pandemic. The Downtown Council says workers in the office, restaurant diners, hotel occupancy are all less than half of the levels seen before March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic sent people and students to work from home for months or years on end. This as crime in the core rose.

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‘Who Will You Rank #2? & Other Questions

For a change of pace, the candidates were asked a quick lightning round of questions about the city and the other candidates, starting with the question “Who will you rank #2 on your ballot?” The mayoral race is a ranked-choice race.

Other questions posed to the mayoral candidates included their favorite parks in Minneapolis, and their favorite sculptures at the Walker’s Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

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Viewer Questions On Housing, Policing

First, Janne asked, “How will your plan to address the housing shortage reflect the reality that many people, especially Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color, do not have enough income to buy a home?”

And then Ivy asked, “If ballot question 2 is passed, how will you ensure a smooth transition that supports the choice of Minneapolis voters?”

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On The Bright Side

As the debate winded down, each candidate was asked to reflect on the changes to Minneapolis during the last four years, and specifically to focus on something that worked well since the start of Mayor Frey’s term. Frey was asked the same, but also asked to say one thing he wishes he would’ve done during his term.

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Closing Pitches

Finally, each of the four candidates participating in the WCCO-CBSN Minnesota debate were asked to make a final pitch to Minneapolis voters, telling them why they should vote for them and not their fellow candidates.

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