Mpls. mayoral profile: Jackie Cherryhomes

9:00 PM, Oct 28, 2013   |    comments
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Jackie Cherryhomes

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jackie Cherryhomes, after personally knocking on 800 doors in several of senior high rises, compared the variety of responses to an old TV game show.

"Behind every door was an interesting story," she remarked during a meeting with her campaign staff last week.

"And for awhile I felt like, 'Behind door number 1? You know!"

But Cherryhomes is pretty experienced at that personal style of Minneapolis politics. She ran for office the first time in 1989, when she upset incumbent Van White, to capture a seat on the Minneapolis City Council.

She held that position for a dozen years, including a lengthy stint as City Council President. She believes that history makes her uniquely qualified to become the Mill City's next mayor.

"I have run the city as the council president. I have the executive experience," Cherryhomes told KARE.

"I walk into that job on Day 1, and I know what to do and I know how the city functions."

Cherryhomes looks at Heritage Park, the mixed-income residential development that replaced the housing projects on the city's near north side, as one of her enduring accomplishments on the council.

"We tore down the projects. We de-concentrated poverty," she said.

"We developed a plan and policies that ensure we have affordable housing available throughout our whole city now, not just in one concentrated neighborhood."

She's also proud of the efforts to save historic theaters and create a more vibrant theater district downtown.

The epic re-location of the historic Shubert Theater in 1999, the heaviest building ever moved on rubber tires, was part of the effort to build up the Hennepin Avenue Theater district during the Cherryhomes' years.

"We now have the Cowles Center, which is an incredible center for the dance and is used widely," she said.

But the Shubert was moved to make way for the taxpayer-subsidized Block E retail and entertainment development, which never lived up to its potential.

"Block E didn't turn out the way people had envisioned that it would turn out. I think part of that's design, part of that's execution," Cherryhomes asserted.

Another controversial decision -- the vote to extend tax increment financing to the Target Corporation's downtown store and headquarters -- has paid great dividends for the Nicollet Mall and surrounding blocks.

"If you've got a Fortune 500 -- really a Fortune 50 -- company that wants to be the heart of your city, how can you say no to that?"

But her support of the Target tax subsidy cost her votes in the next election.

Cherryhomes' attempt at a fourth term on the City Council failed when she lost to Green Party candidate Natalie Johnson Lee by 72 votes in the 2001 election.

Since leaving City Hall, Cherryhomes has worked as a consultant and lobbyist in the Twin Cities.

Hot button Issues

Cherryhomes wasn't on the city council when the city agreed to take part in the new Vikings stadium deal, in partnership with the team and the State of Minnesota.

But had she been on the council in 2012, she would've sided with the majority.

"I believe that the Vikings are an asset and having them in Minneapolis is an asset, but even more important for me was the job creation during construction and beyond."

On the issue of the officer conduct controversies that have created turmoil in the Minneapolis Police Department, Cherryhomes stressed police officers need to continue working closely with residents of the city's most challenged neighborhoods to instill more confidence.

"It means that people need to be treated equitably and responsibly by the police department," she said.

"And I believe 99 percent of the cops do their job in a really, really, really good way."

She agrees with the Met Council's move to put the Southwest Light Rail routing decision on hold. The regional planning agency put that process into pause mode after Minneapolis leaders' objections to a plan to bury the transit line in two shallow tunnels east of Cedar Lake.

"The Met Council was heading down a path leading to litigation," she said.

Overall, Cherryhomes has an optimistic take on her hometown's future.

"Our greatest asset is our people, and I know I can bring people together to make our city even stronger."

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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