Jacob Frey Is Re-Elected as Minneapolis’s Mayor
The mayoral race was shaped by Mr. Floyd death at the hands of a police officer and the debate about whether to replace the city’s Police Department.
Jacob Frey, who oversaw Minneapolis when George Floyd was murdered, wins a second term as mayor.
Mayor Jacob Frey had opposed efforts to abolish or replace the Minneapolis police force.Credit…Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times
By Mitch Smith
Nov. 3, 2021, 2:30 p.m. ET
MINNEAPOLIS — Mayor Jacob Frey, a Democrat who led Minneapolis when a police officer murdered George Floyd and the city was overwhelmed by rioting last year, was elected to a second term, The Associated Press projected on Wednesday. Mr. Frey also had opposed efforts to abolish or replace the local police force.
The election in Minneapolis, an overwhelmingly Democratic city, was shaped by Mr. Floyd’s death in May 2020, by a sharp rise in homicides afterward and by disparate views on how to address public safety. Voters on Tuesday also rejectedan amendment to replace the city’s Police Department with a new safety agency focused on public health.
In the days after Mr. Floyd’s death, Minneapolis became the center of a national debate on whether to defund policing and invest in new options for emergency response. A veto-proof majority of the City Council quickly pledged to abolish the Police Department, though some members later backtracked.
From the start, Mr. Frey, a former professional runner and City Council member, called for a more incremental approach to improving law enforcement. He supported efforts to hire mental health workers to respond to emergencies and to curtail some low-level police stops, while defending a need to maintain a Police Department.
“We’ve got to stop this pendulum from swinging violently back and forth between defund and abolish the police on one side, and do nothing, status quo on the other,” Mr. Frey said in an interview before the election. “Those are not the two options.”
But Minneapolis had been shaken by police shootings and protests before, and many residents said that little seemed to change. When Mr. Frey won his first term four years ago, he pledged to improve police-community relations that had been frayed by the killings of Jamar Clark, a Black man fatally shot in 2015 during a fight with officers, and Justine Ruszczyk, a white woman whose death in 2017 led to an officer being convicted of manslaughter.
Sheila Nezhad, one of Mr. Frey’s challengers, worked as a street medic during the unrest last year and supported the amendment to replace the police force. Ms. Nezhad said Mr. Frey had failed to rise to the moment and listen to the demands of protesters.
“People took to the streets because their voices were not being heard through the quote-unquote ‘appropriate’ channels, through city government,” Ms. Nezhad said. “Whatever we do next has to make sure that we have as many voices included as possible.”
Though more than a dozen candidates ran against him, Mr. Frey retained significant support among Minneapolis residents wary of reinventing or downsizing the police force. On the city’s North Side, where shootings have been a fact of life, the Rev. Jerry McAfee criticized how the mayor had engaged with community groups, but said he still preferred him to the wide field of challengers.
“Jacob is still the best person,” Mr. McAfee said. “The other ones that they’re trying to push, they’re going to push this agenda of basically defunding the police, and I’m not with that.”