The list of mayoral candidates on the Nov. 3 ballot is no small crop. Yet out of 11 names, just one has gotten much of the attention. That would be incumbent R.T. Rybak, who is seeking his third term in office.
The blogosphere and media focus on Rybak isn’t so much the result of this campaign — which has included no high-profile debates with opponents, a striking difference from four years ago — but because of what he has said he’s “very likely” to do within the next few months: announce a bid for governor.
Rybak, endorsed for the first time by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, said his goals for another term include a continued emphasis on public safety and economic growth, as well as laying the groundwork for the next generation and creating new and unique transportation initiatives.
“I am exactly where I need to be right now,” Rybak told the Southwest Journal in January.
That sentence’s key words might be “right now.” His opponents are annoyed, some angry, that he hasn’t said for sure what his future political plans are.
“R.T.’s just running for governor,” opponent Al Flowers said during an Oct. 7 televised candidate forum. “He don’t care about you. He’s just using you as a stepping stone.”
Flowers has gotten his own share of recent media attention, although the topics haven’t been ones he’d like the focus to be on. In May, he received a condemnation notice because of an unpaid water bill; in September, he was cited for marijuana possession. (The latest incident led to Flowers suing the city. He says he’s been harassed ever since announcing his mayoral campaign.)
If Flowers were elected, he says he would fire both the chief of police and the director of the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development. City Hall needs to represent the citizens, which it currently isn’t doing, Flowers says. He argues that the actions of the mayor’s office have been like those of a dictatorship.
“I think I’ll be a great mayor because I’ll bring truth to the people,” he says.
Another strong critic of the city is longtime musician and small-business owner Papa John Kolstad, who is endorsed by the Independence and Republican parties. Kolstad says there are too many established inside players at City Hall and that the city’s dollars aren’t being spent wisely. His goal is to give more subsidies to small businesses because, he says, that’s where new jobs actually come from.
“The mayor’s office does not create jobs,” he says.
James Everett, of the Sub-Zero Collective — which connects hip-hop with politics — says the city is in dire need of fixing. He wants police officers to actually live in Minneapolis and for a quarter of North Minneapolis’ housing to become foster homes, group homes and cooperative housing.
Many candidates are questioning the city’s fees and rising property taxes. Bill McGaughey wants the city to be more about freedom — which he says means minimal taxes and minimal regulations. He is co-director of the Metro Property Rights Action Committee.
Tom Fiske says he believes a depression is still upon the city and that unemployment benefits should be guaranteed. He wants to eliminate all taxes, except those on the wealthiest. The cost of city government is crushing citizens, he says.
Christopher Clark says he expects many people will no longer be able to afford living in the city unless changes are made. He wants the city to stop making unwise investments — he cites Downtown’s Block E as a mistake — and for the City Council and mayor to no longer receive annual raises, at least until the economy improves.
Frequent candidate Dick Franson, a one-term city alderman in the mid-1960s who is making his 24th bid for office, is proposing new techniques to improve public safety, including using the National Guard in high-crime areas and requiring two police officers per patrol car. Franson says that if he doesn’t win this election, he’ll file for state Secretary of State next year.
Bob Carney Jr., who runs RepublicanContract.com, says he would use the mayor’s office to steer the Republican Party into a moderate and progressive direction. He also has a plan for a Skyway-like system for bicyclists.
John Charles Wilson says his chances for winning election are low, but he says he wants to use his campaign to find supporters for his new Edgertonite National Party. Wilson says he’s always been known for being a bit different — he says he’s been especially ridiculed for his belief that “Little House on the Prairie” author Laura Ingalls Wilder is God — but that he has real political hopes. If he were elected mayor, he would relax fees and repeal such ordinances as the bans on public consumption of alcohol and sleeping on benches.
Joey Lombard, whose political affiliation on the ballot will read “is awesome,” says the most pressing issues the city will face in the next four years are flash flooding, flash droughts, typhoons and the like.
This article features content from replies to a League of Women Voters of Minnesota questionnaire. For full candidate responses, go to vote.lwvmn.org.
Bob Carney Jr.
Papa John Kolstad
John Charles Wilson