Lane resigns Ward 13 Council seat to give Hodges a head start
Councilmember Barret Lane (Ward 13) announced in late November that he was stepping down from his Council seat a month early. His move allowed Betsy Hodges to begin her first term representing the ward on Dec. 2 at the most recent Council meeting.
Lane wrote a letter to Council President Paul Ostrow (Ward 1) in which he stated “it is in the best interest of the city of Minneapolis and the citizens of the 13th Ward to have Councilmember-elect Betsy Hodges take office at the earliest practicable timethere is no time like the present.”
Lane didn't run for re-election after serving two terms representing the fiscally conservative Southwest corner ward.
“I'm excited to take office early,” Hodges said. “I was very eager to get the job, and I'm pleased to have the opportunity to start right away.”
She added that she wanted residents of her ward to call her about “anything.” Said Hodges, “If they have something they think City Hall can handle, we want to hear from them.”
Take a seat
Hodges is expected to be seated on Lane's six Council committees: Claims, Elections, Intergovernmental Relations, Rules, Taxes, Transportation and Public Works, and Ways and Means/Budget.
She has said she would like to be appointed to the Ways and Means Committee when new committee assignments are handed out when the new Council is convened in January. The newly elected Council will features four fresh faces in addition to Hodges: Cam Gordon (Ward 2), Diane Hofstede (Ward 3), and Southwest representatives Elizabeth Glidden (Ward 8) and Ralph Remington (Ward 10).
Hodges also expressed an interest in serving with Intergovernmental Relations, the group working on city government relations initiatives to further the city's agenda with the State Legislature, governor and federal government.
Lane backed independent Michael Hohmann in the Sept. 13 primary in which Hodges finished with the most votes.
Hodges beat McDonald 57 percent to 23 percent, with third-place finisher Hohmann receiving 20 percent. In the Nov. 8 general election, Hodges stretched her margin of victory to 64 percent to 36 percent, drubbing McDonald, who lost her previous political race as well.
McDonald came in third behind R.T. Rybak and incumbent Sharon Sayles-Belton in the 2001 mayoral primary.
Lane told the Southwest Journal in September of last year that he wouldn't seek re-election.
“My 7-year-old came home one night and said, ‘Daddy, you need a job with fewer night meetings,'” Lane said then.
The Fulton resident became known for taking on fiscal issues, including the push for the city's first five-year budget, department-level business planning and finding a long-term fix for Neighborhood Revitalization Program funding.
“I think I am going to walk out of here in a year feeling like this has been time well-invested - by me in the community and by the community in me,” he said. “Despite its bumps, on the whole, this has been quite positive.”
Lane hasn't said what he'll do after his career in politics ends. He used to practice law in the small, now-dissolved law firm Hanlon & Lane.
“I am wide open to all types of alternatives, whether it is returning to the practice of law, working in government service in some fashion or going to the private sector,” he said.
Lane first won a seat in a May 1999 special election, defeating DFLer Karen Wilson. Lane replaced Steve Minn, who stepped down to take the Commerce Commissioner's post in Gov. Jesse Ventura's administration. Lane defeated DFL-endorsed Greg Abbott in the 2001 general election.
“When I started this, this really was sort of a sabbatical,” said Lane, an attorney. “I never was going to be a career politician.”
He said that frustration at not being able to achieve more in office wasn't the deciding factor in his decision to step down.
“Ultimately, the majority decides,” he said. “That is part of the understanding of being here. It is not a matter of whether I am frustrated or not frustrated, it is a matter of whether the work is moving forward or not. In retrospect, it is important just to be thankful that we have got as far as we could.”
Hodges has worked raising money for the Minnesota Justice Foundation, an organization that creates opportunities for area law students to do public interest work and provide pro bono legal services.
She worked as an intern in Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman's office, helping with stadium issues, tax increment financing and neighborhood issues.
Hodges - who has co-chaired the Linden Hills Neighborhood Council - said she loved the Neighborhood Revitalization Program and wanted to make sure residents and neighborhoods stayed involved.
The 13th Ward's neighborhoods are Linden Hills, Fulton, Armatage, Kenny, Lynnhurst, West Calhoun and part of East Harriet.