The Minneapolis mayoral campaign is in its last days.
Over the weekend, that meant one last chance to pound the pavement and pressing the flesh. In the case of Tom Hoch, the Star Tribune reports some of that final push took the form of a house party meet-and-greet, where supporters "sipped mimosas" while Hoch asked them to rank him first on Tuesday.
But a campaign cannot live on mimosas alone. So, Hoch's folks area also papering the city's doorsteps and car windshields with ads depicting Hoch as the right person to take over from Mayor Betsy Hodges. One such ad plays up the undeniable role in keeping the blood pumping for downtown Minneapolis theaters -- Pantages, the Orpheum, and the State -- all on Hennepin Avenue.
On the back, the ad quotes from a City Pages story about "leadership" Hoch showed at the Hennepin Theatre, and his hand in the "revitalization of Hennepin Avenue."
The ad also makes pretty clear Hoch's campaign is more focused on that revitalization than another: The one on West Broadway Avenue in north Minneapolis, a once-bustling thoroughfare whose renaissance has been plotted for years in city hall.
Here's a Star Tribune story from 2014 about the fate of Broadway:
"City officials and developers are targeting empty spaces along the North Side corridor as debates are playing out at City Hall and in the local neighborhoods about whether those are the kind of fixes Broadway truly needs.
Already, the city has poured $14.3 million into the area over the last five years and several new projects are underway. But many of the challenges facing the area highlight why the neighborhood has struggled."
And here's one from a few months ago, indicating not much has happened by way of progress, despite a program of grants for "community-led public safety" efforts pushed by Mayor Hodges:
"For years, W. Broadway has struggled to attract new businesses beyond strip malls and fast food joints. City leaders are aware of the needs and the ways in which a history of segregation made the commercial district what it is today. They’ve made efforts to revitalize the corridor with a plan to guide development and, recently, a grant program for public safety initiatives.
But community members say those efforts have produced few tangible results."
Playing to his strengths, Hoch's campaign has focused his campaign on downtown Minneapolis. He's criticized Hodges and the city for the slow rate of completing construction on Nicollet Mall, and has made much of a recent uptick in crime downtown. Of 26 videos on Hoch's campaign Youtube channel, no fewer than a dozen are mostly or entirely focused on downtown.
So does the campaign lit piece which features Hoch standing in front of the Orpheum Theatre during a recent run of Aladdin.
On the back, the ad says "500,000 people visit Hennepin Avenue Theatres every year because Tom Hoch had the vision and the drive to make it happen."
Asked by City Pages about the ad's crossing out the name of one (non-downtown) city street to replace it with the name of another (downtown) city street, Hoch responded with a statement that proves he knows a lot about the song "On Broadway," and the people who wrote it. (The links below were included as part of Hoch's statement.)
He also mentions downtown a few times.
"You know it’s a song lyric, right? You also know that song referred to the neon lights being bright on Broadway in New York, right? What you may not know is that it was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, at Aldon Music, right on Broadway in New York City, at 1650 Broadway, to be exact. It was first recorded by the Drifters in 1963. You know all that, so your question must be in jest. My flyer referred to the vision I had for saving Minneapolis’ historic downtown theatres. I founded Hennepin Theatre Trust and served as its CEO, bringing Broadway shows to Minneapolis, including amazing highlights like the world premiere of Disney's The Lion King. Today, our historic theatres bring 500,000 people to our downtown every year, supporting hundreds of jobs. But you know all that.
City Pages must just be looking to have a little fun. And, no doubt, Mann and Weil could have written an amazing song about our great Broadway Avenue in Minneapolis, one of the greatest streets in our city, but the mayor probably never invited them to visit Minneapolis’ Broadway Avenue. Or our historic theatres. They live today in Beverly Hills, and received the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award – the highest honor from the Songwriters Hall of Fame – in 2011. So when I’m mayor, perhaps we’ll invite them. Until then, we’ll just keep playing along and keeping it light when our friends at City Pages want to have a little fun."