DFL activists want the next mayor of Minneapolis to focus on revitalizing neighborhoods, keeping property taxes down and improving economic prospects for minority residents. Those were some of the themes that emerged Tuesday night at the city's precinct caucuses.
This is the first open-seat mayor's race Minneapolis has seen in 20 years. Incumbent Mayor RT Rybak is stepping down at the end of his third term, and there are at least half a dozen candidates vying to take his place. All but one of them are seeking the DFL endorsement in this Democratic stronghold.
There were no official numbers at the end of the night to determine which candidates benefited most from the turnout.
Jesse Rothman will be one of the delegates who gets to decide this summer which candidate -- if any -- gets the party endorsement. He'd never been to a DFL caucus before, but he decided to spend his Tuesday night at Whittier International Elementary School, because he says this year's mayoral election is important. He wants the next mayor to bring more racial and economic equality to Minneapolis.
"There's a lot of decisions that go on on the local level that fly under the radar. People pay attention to who becomes president and they don't pay attention to who's making the budget for the city every year. And those decisions are hugely impactful on our lives," Rothman said. "I think the major issue with our city is that we have huge disparities between rich and poor and people of color and white people. And I think that those disparities need to be reduced in variety of ways, particularly in health and education and economic outcomes."
Rothman's preferred candidate is Betsy Hodges. She's one of three current city council members hoping to move into the mayor's office, along with Gary Schiff and Don Samuels. Former Council Member Jackie Cherryhomes and former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew are also seeking the DFL endorsement.
Attorney Cam Winton isn't seeking the DFL's -- or any party's -- endorsement in his run for mayor.
Caucus-goer Timothy Pixley is a Minneapolis firefighter who turned out to support Schiff, who has pledged to grow the department. But Pixley says his number one issue is his property tax bill.
"I've lived in my house for eight years, and [taxes have] doubled since I've lived at the house. And I don't get raises like that at work to keep up with it. So I don't how much longer I'll be able to live in Minneapolis," he said.
While many people show up at caucuses already support one of the candidates, there are plenty of DFL regulars who are still uncommitted.
Craig Pier, who lives in north Minneapolis, isn't crazy about any of candidates, because almost all of them are current or former members of the city council.
"I see very little money coming from the city into the north side. I see very little support for anything that the north side wants to do by itself. And therefore, I'm very disappointed so far in what I've seen from our city council," he said.
Laura Soetebier also hasn't decided which candidate to support. And she predicts none of them will receive the necessary 60 percent to win endorsement at the party convention in June.
"I just think there's so many people running, and they're all trying to stick it out. So I imagine it's just going to be a free-for-all at that convention," she said, but added But added that a long and fiercely fought convention also means DFL activists will get to learn a lot about where the candidates stand on the issues.