$15 Minimum Wage Focus of Minneapolis Mayoral Debate

September 13, 2017 02:32 PM

Seven candidates running for mayor of Minneapolis tangled over the proposed $15 minimum wage being considered by the City Council.

"Yes, I do think we can get this done effectively," said Minneapolis City Council member Jacob Frey at a candidate forum at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. "And no I do not think you're going to see a massive exodus from the city because we're going to do it right. I think there are some entities in this city that can and should be paying $15 an hour, but I do think we need to be accounting for some of these small local businesses that most definitely need a more significant phase-in."

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The City Council considered a draft ordinance that would phase in a $15 minimum wage over four years for large businesses and a longer phase-in for smaller companies.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges acknowledged the increase to $15 would be costly to some.

"Yes, some of it will be paid for by the business," Hodges said at the candidate forum. "Some by the customers, in some ways sometimes by the workers. But I also think the question is, 'Who's paying now for the lack of a minimum wage?' And we all are."

DIGITAL EXTRA: Watch the Full Debate Here

Hodges says the lower minimum wage means people need to work multiple jobs, long hours away from their families and still live at the poverty level that requires expensive government services.

Another candidate, Nekima Levy-Pounds, took a different view. She said $15 isn't nearly enough for a minimum wage.

"If I took a poll right now I would guess by show of hands the majority of people would not show up for $15 an hour every day," Levy-Pounds said to an auditorium full of Minneapolis voters. "Most of us have much higher expectations."

Aswar Rahman, a business owner, cautioned his fellow candidates about jumping into a much higher minimum wage than required in the rest of the state. He fears it could send some businesses fleeing the city and stop minorities from starting businesses.

"To ensure that anyone who starts a business in a low-income neighborhood won't be able to hire their neighbors who aren't expecting $15 an hour to work in a new business, that is the surest way to make sure Minneapolis stays an incredibly impoverished city for 40 percent of us," Rahman said. He went on to call the minimum wage proposal "ham-fisted political opportunism."

Candidates Raymond Dehn, a Minnesota state representative, Al Flowers, a long-time community activist, and Tom Hoch, a theater executive, also participated in the debate.

Credits

Tom Hauser

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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