Newly sworn-in Minneapolis council chooses Lisa Bender for president

Lisa Bender sits for a portrait at MPR.
Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender sits for a portrait inside of the Kling Public Media Center in St. Paul, Minn. on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018.
Evan Frost | MPR News

The Minneapolis City Council lined up behind 10th Ward council member Lisa Bender as president and 8th Ward council member Andrea Jenkins as vice president, signaling a unity between incumbent members and those who ran on an agenda to address racism and inequity in Minnesota's largest city.

During his inaugural address, Mayor Jacob Frey praised members of the city council, calling them "forward thinking."

"We can achieve remarkable things when we are justice-oriented and united," Frey said.

Frey said racial disparities exist in Minneapolis due in part to historical and intentional acts of discrimination. He said there's a concentration of low-income housing in a few neighborhoods because of that history.

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Frey's sentiments appear to be shared by members of the Minneapolis City Council who met for the first time shortly after the inauguration. Bender announced new committees that are aimed at addressing discrimination and affordable housing.

"One of the biggest changes we made to the structure was to add a housing committee. And of course, supporting housing affordability and stopping displacement in our communities is the number one priority of the city council and the mayor," Bender said.

The council also added a sub-committee on racial equity that will include all members of the council. As the council vice president, Jenkins will oversee the committee.

"We have discussed the gaps and the racial inequities in our city, in our culture, in our society, in our country ad infinitum," said Jenkins, who is African-American and the first trans woman elected to the council. "It's time to get to work."

City council members also received their committee assignments and will start on them later this week.