New Minneapolis City Council, viewed as more progressive, sworn in
With members now officially sworn in, the real work begins for the new Minneapolis City Council.
The council members, 11 of whom served on last year’s body, took their oath of office Monday morning at City Hall.
Next Monday, the group will have its organizational meeting, when new leadership is chosen and committees are set. Former Council President Andrea Jenkins declined to say she’ll seek another term as president, but either way, the council may choose a new head after Jenkins narrowly won reelection amid criticism that she wasn’t progressive enough.
Despite just two new faces on the council in 2024, the body is viewed as more progressive than last year’s group, although not as much as some had hoped.
Newcomers Katie Cashman and Aurin Chowdhury have both listed public safety reforms among their top priorities. That will undoubtedly continue to be a major topic the council will be faced with, but so too will several other things, like a rideshare ordinance, which has been a hot topic since last summer.
Several of the council members have said they’re focused on building consensus and getting things done. That’s easier said than done, but now sworn in, residents will be focused on their actions rather than statements.
“2024, I think, is going to be a pivotal year,” Jenkins said in an interview following Monday’s ceremony.
Jenkins won’t know if she’ll hold the presidency for another term until next week when council members meet, in part, to elect officers. She was optimistic about progress in the new year regardless.
“I’m here to be on the team,” she said.
Jenkins made U.S. history when she was first elected in 2017 as the first African American, openly transgender woman to be elected to office.
“So, I keep coming back, I keep raising my hand and saying, ‘Hey, I want to be a part of this fight,'” she said.
Looking back with another year now in the rearview mirror, Jenkins said the City Council’s biggest accomplishments in 2023 included investing millions into equitable climate change mitigation and into building more affordable housing. Mayor Jacob Frey also highlighted those accomplishments in a year-end interview with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS last week.
“And then, of course, public safety, I think, is probably the biggest story of the year,” Jenkins added, referring to the work that began in 2023 to implement mandated reform at the Minneapolis Police Department.
Plenty of unfinished work was left on the table for 2024, including decisions on things like setting a minimum pay rate for Uber and Lyft drivers and designing a new 3rd Police Precinct.
Council members and the mayor’s office struggled to unify on both topics throughout the last year as meetings got heated or fell to finger-pointing.
Asked if she’s worried about the incoming Council’s ability to unify and whether it will impede decision-making, Jenkins replied, “Well, you know, I really hope that we progress. That has been my hope, desire and efforts,” adding, “But in my mind, the only way we move forward as a democracy is to compromise.”
Public safety, particularly reform at MPD, will continue to be a priority this year for her, Jenkins said. She also expressed a strong desire to pour time into healing and revitalization in and around George Floyd Square, which is in her ward.
Next week’s meeting will take place in the Minneapolis Public Service Building as work continues on City Hall.