MINNEAPOLIS -- City hall's finances are in much better shape than they were in 2005, the yearBetsy Hodges joined the City Council.

"I'm proud of the work that I've done, that the Council has done, getting us in the place where we can do a one percent property tax decrease this year," Hodges told KARE.

Butglaring economic disparities persist in Minnesota's largest city, and that's one of the factors that drove Hodges to run for mayor when RT Rybak decided not to seek a fourth term.

"To be the greatest city we have to take on our greatest challenge, which is the huge chasm we have between white people and people of color," Hodges told KARE.

"Health, housing, employment, education --you name it --we have the biggest gap, the widest gulf between the haves and the have-nots."

Before entering politics Hodges worked as a fundraiser for nonprofit organizations, and then joined the staff of Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman. Hodges, who lives in Linden Hills, represents the city's 13th ward.

And while schools aren't controlled by the mayor office, Hodges favors programs that help children before they enter the classroom, including pre-natal and early childhood care.

"And housing," Hodges said, "Kids in stable housing do far better than kids who are not in stable housing."

On the public safety front, Hodges would make lapel cameras standard gear for police officers.

"It gives the public confidence and it gives the officers confidence that moving forward they will both be protected."

She said money already exists in the city's budget, and if elected she would work with the police chief, one of the two department heads that report directly to the mayor's office.

On the issue that drew the most cameras to City Hall in years, theVikings Stadium financing deal, Betsy Hodges voted NO. But she took a pragmatic approach since then, asking to serve on the implementation committee that will guard the city'sinterest inconstruction process.

"The second it became clear that deal was going through I said we have to make sure this goes as well as possible for people of Minneapolis," she said.

Hodges sees rail transit as a way to spur more private investment inside the city, and attract new residents who don't necessarily drive cars.

"I want to bring 107,000 more people to the city of Minneapolis," she remarked.

"We're at 393 as of the last census update, and I want to get us to 500,000 and go from there."

She agreed, however, with the Metropolitan Council's decision to delay a vote on final route for the Southwest Light Rail Transit line, which will connect Eden Prairie, Hopkins and St. Louis Park with downtown Minneapolis.

"With Cedar Lake andLake of the Isles - we don't know what the impact will be," Hodges said, referring to a plan to bury the line in a series of shallow tunnels in the Kenilworth Trail corridor east of Cedar Lake.

"We need time to find out what the impact of the shallow tunnel would be on Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles, on water quality and other factors."