Gary Cunningham: Vote Betsy #1 for Mayor!

Hi Minneapolitans!


There might be a few folks still on the fence about the upcoming election for Mayor of the City of Minneapolis given that we have 35 candidates. And even though there has been a lot of information written to clarify the field there may be some confusions or some people may want more information, particularly about my favorite candidate, my wife, Betsy Hodges.


I do need to say, there are a lot of great candidates and each brings a unique perspective to make Minneapolis a great place to live. This has been a long campaign season which is coming to an endthis Tuesday.  With less than a day left, I thought this might be a great opportunity to come out of blog hibernation to provide you with a spouse’s unique perspective of why my wife Betsy Hodges would make an exceptional Mayor of Minneapolis.


As someone who was born and raised here I have watched Minneapolis grow from a small place with one skyscraper to a vibrant multicultural city which is the economic engine of the state. I have witnessed great growth and opportunity. I have also witnessed the growing gaps between people based on race, income, geography and opportunity. It is a tale of two cities.


Before I begin talking about why Betsy is the best choice for the next Mayor of Minneapolis.  I want everyone to know that the opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily the views of the people I work for or with.


Now, I know a lot of you are thinking: How can this be considered an objective endorsement given that I am married to Betsy?  I will state for the record this is totally a subjective endorsement.


On the campaign trail over the last year, one of the questions I get often is how Betsy and I met.  For those that are interested in the juicy details, our dating romance was chronicled with some fanfare in City Pages on Valentine’s Day this year.  You don’t have to remain in the dark any longer.  Check it out!


In the last year I have learned to have even greater admiration, appreciation and understanding for all of the spouses of candidates. There are no training manuals for being the spouse of the candidate. No one shows you the ropes. You just do it.  I had absolutely no experience of being arm candy before. Look good, smile, wave…Wow! It’s hard work. I had no idea.


As a recovering policy wonk, I am surprised that people rarely ask me policy questions these days. The most frequent questions I get from people on the campaign trail are related to what title I would have if Betsy wins the Mayors race. Top suggestions are, “First Gentlemen, First Man, The Man, First Dude.”

I am sure there are many more creative suggestions which I haven’t even considered.


I digress, and am getting ahead of myself here. You opened this link because you wanted to know about Betsy Hodges and why you should vote for her on Tuesday. Let me tell you her story.


Betsy’s Story


After Betsy graduated college, she packed all her belongings in the back of her car, and drove to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she would later help start a program to help HIV-positive women in Albuquerque get the services and dignity that they needed to live well. One night in Albuquerque in 1992, she turned on the TV to learn that three Los Angeles police officers had been found not guilty in the beating of Rodney King, and that the uprising had begun there. It was a pivotal moment for her, one that would spur her to dedicate her career to social change and racial justice


Those are the beginnings of Betsy’s transformative career in public service. Today, she is one of Minneapolis’ great leaders for equality and inclusivity. On City Council, she has been the most determined leader to protect our budget, but more importantly to prioritize Minneapolis’ vulnerable kids and families. Time and time again, she has fought waste and corporate handouts in order to lead on policy and investments that benefit our common ground: transit, housing, education and youth programming.  And long before the topic was in vogue, she was already a champion fighting against the racial gaps in opportunity and achievement that have kept many of our fellow citizens and young people from achieving their brightest future.


That’s what makes Betsy the most progressive candidate in this race, with the most progressive coalition and base of supporters. She has the endorsements of such leading progressive organizations as Take Action, SEIU, Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, EMILY’s List, womenwinning, the DFL Latino Caucus, the DFL African American Caucus, the American Minnesota Asian Indian Democratic Association, and numerous other progressive organizations and public figures. No mayoral candidate fought harder for marriage equality than Betsy.


Betsy has been a key ally to Mayor Rybak – in creating a livable, inclusive, great Minneapolis – Betsy has transcended her role in order to fight for every great cause for equality and progress in our community. That’s why she has the #1 endorsement of the Star Tribune and the biggest grassroots program in the race by far.


The only thing greater I can say about Betsy than all that she has accomplished for Minneapolis – particularly communities of color – is what she will do as Mayor of Minneapolis. You should visit to learn all about that, but here are a few points to consider:

• Betsy’s “Cradle-to-K” initiative will serve as a community resource to eliminate the gaps in prenatal and childcare programming and coverage.

• Betsy is ready to lead on education with her “Ready, Willing and Able” program, putting children first, breaking through political logajams and bringing people together to get things done.

• Betsy is determined to improve public safety in every neighborhood by fighting gun violence and protecting funding for public safety citywide while leading on body-worn police cameras, combating racism and holding law enforcement personnel accountable.

• Betsy will enact her “Zero Waste Minneapolis” plan and make Minneapolis a green 21st-century city without harmful garbage burning that poisons vulnerable families and people of color.

Betsy is the most progressive candidate in the race with the most people-powered campaign, and I strongly urge you to give her your first-choice vote this Tuesday. And I also urge you to watch this video and hear Betsy’s own words to help you make your decision:


Now is the time!


Well it all comes down to the next few days. Over 30 something debates, interviews, house parties, phone calls, door knocks, fundraising, speeches, media conferences, neighborhood meetings, lit drops, social media, pot lucks and politics. It has been a wonderful and exciting experience.  Betsy and I have had a great opportunity to meet people and talk to people from every corner of the City.  We live in a wonderful place.


In this election your vote really does count. Please vote on Tuesday November 5th!


Betsy Hodge Your #1 Choice for Mayor!