At 11:21, on a sunny, frigid Thursday morning, Betsy Hodges said the words “I do swear,” promising to uphold the laws of the land, state and city and becoming the 47th mayor of Minneapolis.
The event, billed as the Kids’ Inaugural with children as honored guests, kicks off Hodges’ 10-day tour of Minneapolis that will highlight a range of city issues, such as transportation, the arts, public safety, economic growth and tourism.
The tour also will tout the city as “One Minneapolis,” a city offering equal opportunity to all residents.
“One Minneapolis” was the main theme of her campaign, emphasizing the importance of closing the opportunity gaps facing many minority citizens in education, employment and housing.
That theme “wasn’t just about a campaign,” Hodges said after the short swearing-in ceremony. “It was about governance.”
Friday’s events will focus on transportation. With plans in the works for the Nicollet/Central streetcar line — and a decision expected soon on the proposed Southwest Light Rail Line — transportation could dominate Hodges’ first months as mayor.
“It’s clearly one of the first things on the plate,” she said afterward. “We’re going to get some information and see where we go from there.”
As a member of the City Council, Hodges expressed her opposition to co-locating freight and light rail lines in the Kenilworth Corridor between Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake. Tests are being done to establish what harm, if any, that route could cause to the Chain of Lakes.
Hodges also said she was looking forward to working with the new City Council, which includes a majority of new members.
One of her first priorities, she said, will be to establish a Cradle-to-K Cabinet that will focus on preparing young children for success as they enter school.
She also said that she and Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson have met to talk about how to move education efforts forward.
Those in the front row for the morning ceremony were children, given the choice seats to illustrate Hodges’ commitment to the youth of Minneapolis.
“I just made a promise that I will work hard to make Minneapolis a great city,” she said, then asking the children to join her in pledging to make Minneapolis a great city, to be good to people and to have good lives.
Hodges is expected to deliver a formal inaugural speech Monday, following the 9:30 a.m. swearing-in ceremony for City Council members.
That ceremony, to be held in the rotunda of City Hall, will be followed by the City Council’s organizational meeting, which will include the election of officers and the announcement of committee chairs and committee assignments.