Inside a conversation with Mayor Frey


Photo courtesy of Tony Webster, via Flickr, creative commons

After running the Twin Cities Marathon, Jacob Frey decided that Minneapolis was his forever-home. Now, as the the Mayor of Minneapolis, Frey works to increase affordable housing and gun control bans to better the city.

While running the Twin Cities Marathon in 2006, Jacob Frey decided Minneapolis was where he wanted to live. Now serving as the Mayor of Minneapolis, Frey has a strong sense of leadership and hopes to better the city’s community.

Having grown up running and having had a career as a professional runner, originally Frey had no intention of going into law or politics. He attended law school to get involved and help people in need. But once Frey began practicing as a lawyer, he believed some laws needed to be changed and wanted to take a community-like approach to fix them. That’s when he decided to transition into politics. “My passion was distance running. But gradually, I got more and more interested in social justice work and helping those who were struggling, and that really triggered my desire to attend law school,” Frey said.

After graduating law school outside of Philadelphia, he decided to pack up and move to Minneapolis. “You have the lakes and the riverfront and the magnificent park system that is interwoven throughout a urban core, and it’s beautiful. Then when you look at it more closely, you see that Minneapolis is filled with this activist, engaged population, fully capable of enacting the change they envision. People believe they can make a difference in the world, and I think that’s a really cool thing,” Frey said.

Having interests ranging from politics to running, Frey has had many people who have influenced and taught him along the way. “I had a series of mentors. Ranging from my track coaches when I was younger, to my parents. Everything I am is because of my mother, and everything I want to be is my father. My wife is now undoubtedly a mentor in my life and has been for many years,” Frey said.

Prior to becoming the mayor, Frey served as a Minneapolis City Council representative for the Third Ward. During his time on City Council, Frey was able to increase affordable housing in the area, increase small businesses, and add new green spaces to the parks, just to name a few. In January of 2017, Frey announced his run for mayor and in November of 2017, he won the election and was later sworn into office on January 2, 2018.

Becoming the mayor has changed Frey’s lifestyle in some ways. “It takes longer for me to get anywhere. I was joking with my wife the other day that I can’t steal from the salad bar before I’ve waited and paid for it. It’s certainly a public change and a private change as well,” Frey said.

Despite these lifestyle changes, becoming mayor has allowed for Frey to continue working for affordable housing in Minneapolis, an issue he is very passionate about. Affordable housing was one of the main focuses during Frey’s campaign. People with lower income do not have many options when it comes to affordable housing, and when they do it is often segregated to certain neighborhoods. Part of Frey’s plan includes creating affordable housing in predominantly white and wealthy neighborhoods. “It ain’t easy, that’s for sure. I believe affordable housing should be in every neighborhood of the city. We have a long history of concentrating all the affordable and low income housing, sectioning in one or two zip codes in the city. Yes, we should have affordable housing in North Minneapolis, but we should also have it be southwest and downtown and east. Every neighborhood should have affordable [housing]. There are funding mechanisms, there are funding aspects that come into play to make sure that happens and there’s zoning implications as well,” Frey said.

I’ll tell you what, the hundreds I saw out there are going to change the whole damn world.

— Mayor Jacob Frey

Another issue Frey has spoken about is gun control. Recently, he marched with students who want stricter gun laws. “In my experience, marching and hearing from students was one of the most heartwarming political experiences I’ve ever had. Seeing a thousand or so students out there marching and joining together, heading down to city hall with a real common message: we need sensible gun reform. It was a message of we deserve to feel safe in our classrooms. Which should be a very accepted principle. I feel that these students are the NRA’s worst nightmare,” Frey said.

Frey acknowledged the fact that in the past there have been struggles to get young people to go out and vote. But, he feels differently about these students. “I’ll tell you what, the hundreds I saw out there are going to change the whole damn world,” Frey said.

Only a few months into his term, Frey has been using his power for creating good and positive change in the city. “It’s a magnificent opportunity to work hand in hand with the community around common goals. Whether that’s social justice work, affordable housing, or police community relations. I’m a firm believer that you get the best results when you have broad collaboration. It’s a opportunity to gear that collaboration to the clear results while also representing the greatest city in the world,” Frey said.