Updated: 4:32 p.m. | Posted: 1:31 p.m.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey are both young and full of energy, and they have ambitious hopes for their respective cities. They also both recently released their 2020 budget proposals, which include property tax increases. They joined MPR News host Angela Davis on stage at the Minnesota State Fair on Wednesday for a conversation about their work, their friendship and the issues facing their cities.
Both Carter and Frey say they are taking similar approaches to addressing some of their cities' greatest challenges. The lack of affordable housing and aging infrastructure are issues they say require multifaceted solutions.
Carter said his approach to public safety spending is to focus on a number of areas, like community centers and other resources for youth.
"To make sure that one, we have a police department that we know we can rely on, that we know can show up in a hurry when we need them to show up in a hurry,” said Carter. “And that we have all the other types of collateral investments in our community that we need to minimize the number of times we have to call 911 in the first place."
Keeping up with the demand for affordable housing is also a problem both cities share.
Frey defended the city's 2040 Plan after an audience member said increasing multiunit housing in neighborhoods like his would only increase density, rather than boost affordable housing. The mayor said the plan tries to correct decades of policies which racially segregated neighborhoods by excluding the construction of duplexes and triplexes.
"And I'm a believer that every neighborhood should have a beautiful diversity of people - a beautiful diversity of socioeconomic backgrounds and races and mentalities,” said Frey. “And in order to get that, you have to have a diversity of housing options."
Frey and Carter also talked about how their friendship helps both their cities. Carter says the cities are more like track teammates than rivals. Both men also run regularly. Frey said he’s helping train Carter make the transition from being a sprinter to a long distance runner.
Frey, who used to be a competitive marathoner, said running has taken on a new role in his life.
“Now, it’s not about competition. It’s about health. It’s about emotional and physical well-being. It’s about being out in the city and frankly, it’s about being in my thoughts for 20 to 30 minutes, every so often so I can reboot for the next big effort.”