Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey visited Litchfield Thursday as state Rep. Dean Urdahl’s guest.
Urdahl said he offered Frey a similar tour to one he extended to St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter this past fall, to places such as Litchfield schools, city facilities, and local businesses including Doosan Bobcat.
“I saw Mayor Frey at an event, and I said, ‘Well, look, mayor of St. Paul came out here, how come you don’t come out?’” Urdahl said. “I was just kidding around with him. I did not consider that I’d formally invited... And then (Frey) called up and said, ‘Can I come, too?’”
One of the reasons Frey visited Litchfield was to discuss bonding projects in Minneapolis, Urdahl said.
“Because I’m the Republican lead on bonding,” Urdahl added. “He wanted to talk about bonding, and they have some projects that they are very concerned about getting the bonding bill.”
Council members from Hutchinson, Cosmos, Grove City, Willmar and Eden Valley all sat down with Frey and shared issues their cities are facing during a meeting at Litchfield City Hall.
Hutchinson city council member Steve Cook was happy to talk to him.
“It's just good to have elected officials from the metro area meet with some elected officials from greater Minnesota,” Cook said. “I commend Representative Urdahl and Mayor Frey for taking the effort to come out.”
For Hutchinson specifically, workforce development and regulations of water/waste-water were discussed.
“Wastewater projects was one thing that was mentioned,” Cook said. “The mayor from Minneapolis echoed some of the same concerns. I asked him what types of challenges they are facing and again with this workforce, housing. We all shared common interests in LGA (local government aid) and how important it is for all of us.”
“You begin to recognize that success is mutually shared,” Frey said after the meeting. “The issues we confront are the same; need for housing supply, improved infrastructure, public schools, health care, stormwater and flood. These issues I’ve heard from council members, mayors throughout the region, and these are some of the same exact issues we’re confronting right now.”
These types of meetings help shed light on the needs of real people, Frey said. “And the urban-rural divide is not the chasm politics makes it out to be. We have the same goals and hopes and dreams. At the end of the day, we’re all Minnesotans rallying around common causes.”
Fostering communication and understanding between rural government leaders and the mayor of Minneapolis was the purpose for Frey's visit, Urdahl said.
“I’m honored to be in Litchfield,” Frey said. “I am honored to get the invite from Urdahl and meet with Mayor Johnson and head over to Bobcat for a bit to check out some of the workforce needs. You know, this was a productive meeting. It was heartwarming seeing the commonalities. And it definitely makes me want to come back again.”