Jeremy Schroeder was elected in 2017 and has spent his first term doing exactly what he shouldn’t have: taking a leadership role on difficult issues like housing and zoning reforms and moving towards fixing our city’s broken system of public safety. He’s gotten far less heat for his climate work, such as the city’s sustainable building and energy disclosure policies. He cares about the details and making government work better.
The public safety charter amendment has been demagogued pretty hard, and is an especially salient issue in Ward 11. At the most basic level, this is about restoring democratic control over the budget. You probably already thought that was the case (that’s how other cities do it — why don’t we?). It’s also about giving the City Council policy control over police, which is currently left entirely to the mayor.
Contrary to a lot of misstatements about our recent history, Jeremy Schroeder and his City Council colleagues have funded police staffing, hiring, training, and overtime at the level requested by Mayor Frey. And the department has disintegrated anyway — in the wake of murdering George Floyd, kicking off a global civil rights movement, initiating federal and state investigations for MPD racism and abuse, hundreds of police resignations, and inviting untold millions in settlements for shooting civilians and journalists in the face with less lethal ammunition. All under Mayor Frey’s exclusive leadership.
To give you an idea how warped the conversation about public safety has been in the last 18 months, Schroeder is the council member who proposed setting aside the $5 million police overtime fund in the 2021 budget. This was about requiring MPD to report to the council and be held to some minimal level of accountability for how the money would be used (that report was given and the money was eventually released). This small nod to police accountability was painted by police boosters as deeply disrespectful to the chief.
I am hoping Ward 11 proves me wrong and rewards an incumbent who votes his conscience, because the alternative is Emily Hofstede Koski. It would be unfortunate if Koski coasted into office riding a wave of violent crime and police resignations (both national trends that have hit Minneapolis especially hard). There is no difference between Koski and Frey on public safety — she is content to defer to a mayor (if he’s reelected) with a spectacular record of failure. Minneapolis needs leaders who will fund and support the creation of a more resilient Department of Public Safety, staffed by accountable police and non-police responders. That’s not Emily Koski.
On housing, Schroeder has pushed reforms that allow more kinds of housing in more places. He has supported affordable housing requirements, zoning and parking reforms, rent control, rooming houses, and more. I don’t think he’s been quite ambitious enough in some areas, but he is on the progressive end of this current council — and he represents Ward 11, so I can’t knock him. He’s a legitimate leader on these issues.
Koski, on the other hand, is unable to recall her own prior housing positions. At a landlord-only conference call (on zoom) the host asked her about her recent support for rent stabilization. Koski responded, “I’d be curious to know where you read that I was pro rent control.” Months earlier Koski answered a candidate questionnaire with, “Yes, I support rent stabilization.” On the zoom call, she attributed her prior position to “naiveness.”
No matter what you think of rent stabilization as a policy, the video of this exchange is a revelation. Koski wasn’t familiar with her own position. She said she gets her “data” from “property owners, developers, and small business owners.” But as for actual data, she isn’t aware of a widely discussed report on the topic, which was contracted by the city. And she doesn’t even know what the UMN’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs is (city council candidates should know this!).
When it comes to Emily Koski, incurious is a better word than naïve.
Koski mistakes the “CURA report” (city contracted study to inform development of a policy) for a MPR/Strib/Kare11 opinion poll. “The CURA report, are you talking about just in general the polls that came out?”— Wedge LIVE!™ (@WedgeLIVE) September 29, 2021
Koski: “And how do you spell that?”
Moderator: “C-U-R-A” pic.twitter.com/0YhVfbPM0W
Here’s a minor thing, but I think emblematic of a well-run and organized office: social media and newsletter content from Schroeder’s office over the last four years has been excellent. As someone who tries to pay close attention to what’s happening in local government, I’ve found value in it. Other council members should emulate Schroeder’s office.
And one small irritation: instead of giving a straight answer about her position on the 2040 plan, Koski goes the route of Ward 13 Council Member Linea Palmisano, offering process complaints. Please don’t give Palmisano an echo on the council.
From housing, to climate, to public safety, Jeremy Schroeder is moving this city forward. He has an agenda. He is policy oriented. He knows what he believes and is straightforward about it. He hasn’t shrunk from this moment in order to protect his political future. He hasn’t embarrassed himself on a landlord zoom call. We need more like Jeremy Schroeder.