Meet Betsy Hodges
The Minneapolis Mayor describes why she loves her home state.
Since 2013, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges has taken the lead on Minnesota’s most cosmopolitan city. She is a tried and true Minnesotan, and her love for the Twin Cities runs deep. So does her love of breakfast food, Acme Comedy Club, Wheel of Fortune, poetry and finally living in the same neighborhood as her husband.
You were born and raised in Minnesota but went to college in Pennsylvania and to Wisconsin for your Master’s. What made you come back to the Twin Cities?
I’m a Minnesotan, and that’s what we do. Minnesotans have the highest rate of coming back (home) of anywhere in the country, and I think it’s because this is the best place on Earth.
Why do you think that is?
There’s a lot to do here. It’s just the right combination of arts; there’s so much nature and things to do outdoors 12 months out of the year; we’re great at sports and entertainment, and the best thing we have to offer is our people. We’re an extraordinary people. We have people from around the world who live and make their homes and invest in Minneapolis, and that’s appealing to people to have a city that is so cosmopolitan and broad-ranging.
When you have free time, what are some of your favorite things to do?
I’m a runner and a cyclist. My husband and I enjoy eating out at Minneapolis restaurants, so at this point I think we should really consider that one of our hobbies. But I’m also a reader and a movie-goer, as many people are. Oh, and I watch Wheel of Fortune. That is my favorite television show. I only get to watch Wheel of Fortune if I’m home at 6:30 on a weekday evening, so I get to watch maybe twice a month.
What do you love most about the neighborhood you live in?
I live in the Lyndale neighborhood, and I can walk to all kinds of great things: coffee, restaurants, the drug store. I’m just a few blocks away from the Midtown Greenway, which gives me access to the entire Grand Rounds Scenic Byway and the entire city. And I live with my husband [Gary Cunningham]. I had to live in my city council ward, and he had to live in his Metropolitan Council district, because he’s appointed to the Met Council by the governor, and they didn’t overlap. So when I became mayor I could move into his Met Council district, and now I live with my husband. That’s probably my favorite thing about my neighborhood.
What else do you like to do?
I also make a point of going to area arts museums. I read poetry every day, and Minneapolis is a great poetry town. The Loft Literary Center and The Open Book Center are really strong here, and there are some great community poets and a great slam poetry scene. I don’t go out for poetry much, but I incorporate it into the work that I do. Like in my State of the City, there will usually be poetry involved in some way in the speech.
You tweet a lot of quotes. Are those often from the poetry you read?
I tweet one quote every morning and I have done that since I got on Twitter in 2009, with very few exceptions. But yes, every morning since 2009 I figured I would put something positive into people’s heads first thing in the morning, including my own.
What are some of your favorite places to eat in Minneapolis and St. Paul?
Any place that has breakfast all day. There are a lot of great places in Minneapolis that serve breakfast all day, but my favorite restaurant in town is Breaking Bread because my stepdaughter is the executive chef there. They are a social enterprise, so they use it to create access to really delicious, healthy food in north Minneapolis and also train people for jobs and careers. But the greatest thing about Breaking Bread? They serve breakfast all day.
Minneapolis-St. Paul has been making a name for itself in event hosting, particularly in sports. What does this mean for the community as a whole?
If you think about the Ryder Cup, the Super Bowl, the Final Four, the X Games which are coming, we’ve had the All-Star Game, these are huge opportunities for the world to see the best of the region and Minneapolis. It gives people an opportunity to see us shine and to see us at our best, both to the earned media that comes but also through tens and hundreds of thousands of people coming here and having the experience of the city and saying, “Hey, we have to come back. Minneapolis is a pretty great place.”
We have everything a traveler could want: great hotels, easy accessibility, fun times indoors and out, entertainment, theater, comedy, great museums, great stuff for kids—we are a great destination.
My Perfect Day
On my ideal day, I would wake up early and get outside. I would take an early bike ride through the neighborhood and down to one of the lakes in southwest Minneapolis. I would take a run and then bike back home afterwards.
I love breakfast. It’s my favorite meal of the day—so much so that my favorite restaurants are those that serve breakfast all day. I would go out for breakfast and then come home to spend some sitting on my porch with a young adult novel and my two cats Argyle and Nakatomi (both names derived from the movie “Die Hard”).
Early afternoon means it’s time for second breakfast; most people call this meal “lunch.” I would go to Breaking Bread in North Minneapolis, where my stepdaughter is the executive chef. And yes, they serve breakfast all day.
After lunch, I would visit one of our amazing art museums—probably the Minneapolis Institute of Art or the Walker Art Center. I could spend hours walking through our Minneapolis museums. There are few better ways to spend an entire afternoon. If I had any time left, I would visit some consignment stores; there are always great deals to be had.
Dinner would be with my husband Gary, and we would go to any of the great places in Minneapolis that serve breakfast all day.
There’s no better way to end a day than seeing comedy with my husband and our friends at the Acme Comedy Co. It doesn’t even matter who the headliner is; you can show up at Acme and know that you will see good, interesting, funny work. I have never once been disappointed.
I always end my day by reading poetry.