Minneapolis mayoral candidate bio: Stephanie Woodruff

Minneapolis mayoral candidate, Stephanie Woodruff. (MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson)

Eighth in a series.

Minneapolis mayoral candidate Stephanie Woodruff has seen both sides of the economic divide. She's been a high-level corporate executive and a casualty of the foreclosure crisis.

Six years ago, Woodruff owned a $500,000 home southeast of Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. Her resume included such major companies as Cargill and Deloitte & Touche.

Then in June 2007, a friend called Woodruff and asked her to join AverQ, a startup company for making auditing software.

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“I was still kind of young enough and had the energy,” said Woodruff.

The timing turned out to be terrible. When the market crashed in 2008, AverQ was starved for capital. Its top employees, including Woodruff, stopped taking paychecks to keep the company afloat.

She found it increasingly difficult to pay her mortgage and let the house go into foreclosure in 2010.

Her home is now a one-bedroom apartment, but it retains vestiges of her former life. Fine art plasters the wall, including a Picasso and a Matisse.

Woodruff’s biggest political asset is the endorsement of the Independence Party. The major party backing helps her get invitations to most debates, though the brand doesn't carry much weight in the DFL-dominated city. Woodruff chose to be named on the ballot as a DFLer.

She’s still listed as AverQ chief revenue officer and still owns a 10 percent stake, but she isn't involved with its day-to-day operations. She works at her brother's company, Search Leaders, where she helps accounting and finance firms find employees.

In addition to working at Search Leaders, Woodruff serves in an unpaid, appointed role on the Minneapolis Audit Committee, an independent oversight panel. If elected mayor, Woodruff said she would give the public more detailed information on how the city spends its money.

While Minneapolis publishes department budgets online, some larger cities, including New York, post every expenditure on their websites -- something Woodruff wants to emulate.

“Transparency breeds trust, and with trust builds great teamwork,” Woodruff said.

Minneapolis received a D- for spending transparency from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group this year.

A Star Tribune poll published last month showed Woodruff trailing many of the other leading candidates, with just 5 percent of respondents ranking her as their first choice.

She's also behind in the money race. Five leading candidates have six-figure fundraising hauls and campaign office spaces, while Woodruff had about $5,000 in campaign contributions as of late August.

Her apartment doubles as campaign headquarters.