Jacob Frey has won a second term as Minneapolis mayor. Frey had a lead after election night over challengers Sheila Nezhad and Kate Knuth, and his re-election was confirmed after the second round of tabulations in the ranked-choice vote election on Wednesday afternoon.
Nezhad, an activist in favor of dismantling the police department, was eliminated after the first round. Frey won in the second round over Kate Knuth, a former state representative who also supported Question 2, the charter amendment that sought to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety. Frey won with 49 percent of the vote; Knuth got 38 percent.
In a Twitter statement, Frey said that, now that the race is over, the residents need to restore faith in city institutions, and each other. “This is our Minneapolis moment to heal and move forward together with renewed purpose toward shared goals and overdue change,” said Frey.
Frey received 42 percent of the first-choice votes on the initial round of tabulations, which gave him a sizable advantage over challengers Nezhad, who got 21 percent of first-choice votes, and Knuth, who received 18 percent.
The race largely boiled down to each candidate’s stance on police. Nezhad campaigned to get rid of MPD and staff the new public safety department with alternatives to armed peace officers, including mental health and housing specialists. Knuth also supported a new public safety department, but also said she would increase the number of police officers within it.
Frey opposed efforts to “dismantle” the MPD, most conspicuously after a group of City Council members announced their intentions to “end policing as we know it” during a rally at Powderhorn Park in June 2020. He never wavered from that position, and campaigned against Question 2, advocating instead for a “yes, and” approach, he said, that would retain the police department while adding alternative responder staff and other services.
The differences between Frey, Knuth and Nezhad were reflected in their stances on all three of the city ballot questions, with Frey on one side, and Knuth and Nezhad — who campaigned together and encouraged their supporters to rank both — on the other.
Knuth and Nezhad both opposed Question 1, the “strong mayor” question, which proposed giving more authority to the mayor. Frey supported the amendment, which passed with 53 percent of the vote.
On Question 3, which sought to give the city council the ability to implement rent control, all three candidates were in favor, but not to the same degree or for the same reasons.
Knuth and Nezhad both gave their full-throated support to the amendment — and to the idea of rent control — Frey said that while he generally opposes the idea of rent control, he believed the city should have the right to debate a rent control proposal, which is why he was voting yes.
In the end, Minneapolis voters sided with Frey on each ballot question, rejecting a new public safety department, and approving the strong mayor and rent control amendments. Those voters also backed Frey’s vision for leading the city as mayor.
With the win, Frey, who was tasked with leading the city during the onset of the pandemic and the death of George Floyd and the subsequent unrest, is awarded another term.