Dec 10, 2022 - News

The newsmakers who shaped the Twin Cities in 2022

Illustration of two rows of dominos falling with text overlaid that reads Power Players Twin Cities.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

From a midterm election to economic uncertainty, the Twin Cities has been through another roller coaster year.

  • Behind the biggest decisions and news events of 2022 are local people shaping life in the metro.

Methodology: We selected these power players using our own expertise and through polling readers and conducting interviews with influential people.

  • The unscientific list is produced entirely by the Axios Local editorial team and is not influenced by advertising in any way.
  • People who made the power list were not notified of their selection until publication.

Meet our 2022 power players, listed in no particular order.

1. Andrew Luger

andrew luger
Photo: Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Andrew Luger, who served as the top federal prosecutor for Minnesota during the Obama era, returned to the U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota post with a bang.

Biggest move of 2022: Six months after his U.S. Senate confirmation, Luger rocked the Twin Cities by detailing the country's biggest pandemic fraud case to date.

  • The Feeding Our Future allegations sparked intense scrutiny of state and local officials just weeks before the election.

What we're watching: Luger said in September that the dozens of indictments were just the first step in an ongoing criminal investigation.

2. Dayna Frank

A photo of Dayna Frank in front of a wall covered in concert posters.
Photo: Courtesy of First Avenue/Caitlin Abrams

The pandemic halted hundreds of local shows and live events, but the First Avenue empire returned in full force this year under Dayna Frank’s leadership as president and CEO.

Biggest move of 2022: The finalization of First Avenue’s 8,000-person amphitheater at the Upper Harbor Terminal project in North Minneapolis. It’s set to break ground next spring.

What we're watching: Members of the National Independent Venues Association, which Frank helms, are going to Congress in February to address deceptive ticketing practices and antitrust legislation in the industry, Frank said at NIVA’s conference this July.

3. Brian Cornell

Brian Cornell
Photo: Sarah Blesener/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Brian Cornell has been CEO of Minneapolis-based Target for eight years and will stay on for three more, the company announced recently.

Biggest move of 2022: Cornell adopted a hybrid work model in which his corporate employees in Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park are not required to come into the office full-time.

What we're watching: Target is the straw that stirs downtown's drink. So whether Cornell will call back workers to spend more time in the office could have a big impact on the local economy.

Zoom in: Before the pandemic, Target was the city's largest employer, with 8,500 workers who dined and shopped downtown.

  • Its corporate headquarters attracts companies that do business with the retailer, as well as corporate travelers who fill downtown hotel rooms.

Yes, but: Cornell has to balance downtown's needs with the realities of a tight labor market in which workers are resistant to returning to the office.

4. Mary Moriarty

mary moriarty
Credit line is Photo: Pilottap/Wikimedia

Former Hennepin County chief public defender Mary Moriarty cruised to victory as Hennepin County attorney in the November election, defeating former Judge Martha Holton Dimick by nearly 16 points.

Biggest move of 2022: Moriarty won on a platform of criminal justice reform and pursuing alternatives to prison.

What we're watching: What changes Moriarty makes in terms of prosecuting criminals and holding police accountable, while also dealing with concerns about crime rates in Minneapolis and beyond.

5. Melvin Carter

melvin carter and axel henry
Mayor Melvin Carter (left) with police chief Axel Henry. Photo: Shari L. Gross/Star Tribune via Getty Images

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter hired a police chief and made progress on his progressive policy goals as he started his second term.

Biggest move of 2022: Carter helped broker a deal to add exemptions to the strict rent control cap approved by voters last year, opening the door for some — but not all — stalled development to restart.

What we’re watching: The rent control changes might not be enough to get the full Highland Bridge development back up and running.

  • And the city continues to grapple with concerns about crime and the health of downtown post-pandemic.

6. Sheletta Brundidge

 Sheletta Brundidge
Photo: Courtesy of Sheletta Brundidge

You'll probably hear Sheletta Brundidge before you see her. She's all over the airwaves on WCCO and her podcast network, mixing humor with activism on a range of issues.

Biggest move of 2022: Brundidge pressured some of Twin Cities' biggest corporations to increase their media and advertising spending with Black-owned businesses, holding them accountable to promises they made following the murder of George Floyd.

  • Target, which along with General Mills sponsored Brundidge's podcast network, announced a new $25 million media fund that will be spent with diverse-owned and founded brands by 2025.

What we're watching: Will she keep up the pressure? And will local corporations continue to respond?

7. The women of the state Senate DFL

women in senate
Senate Democrats hold a news conference after the election. Screenshot: Minnesota Senate Media via YouTube

A leadership team largely led by Democratic women from the metro was behind one of Minnesota’s most surprising and consequential midterm outcomes.

Biggest move of 2022: Defying the odds to win a narrow 34-33 majority in the chamber, sealing a DFL trifecta at the State Capitol.

Zoom in: Outgoing Senate minority leader Melisa López Franzen, campaign chair Erin Murphy and fundraising chair Kari Dzeidzic — the incoming majority leader — played key roles.

  • Megan Hondl, a 27-year-old strategist and Lakeville native who returned to Minnesota after helping flip the Virginia House of Delegates in 2019, served as the campaign director.

What we’re watching: Dzeidzic, along with House Speaker Melissa Hortman, will have to bridge geographic and ideological divides within the DFL caucuses to deliver wins at the Legislature.

8. The workers

A group of people holding picket signs with slogans about supporting Minneapolis teachers.
Minneapolis teachers at a rally. Photo: Michael Siluk/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

This year was defined by worker power, with outfits large and small joining the growing national push to unionize.

Biggest moves of 2022: Minneapolis teachers went on strike in March for the first time in over 50 years, shuttering classrooms for nearly three weeks.

  • And Minnesota nurses' three-day strike in September was believed to be the largest private-sector nurses' strike in history. They secured 18% raises and changes to staffing policies.

Yes, and: The tight labor market pushed public and private employers to increase pay and perks in hopes of attracting and retaining in-demand workers.

What we’re watching: A recession could tip scales back in employers' favor.

Go deeper: See all 200 of Axios Local's Power Players in 2022

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