Minneapolis voters choose Rybak for four more years

Cati Vanden Breul

Minneapolis residents gave Mayor R.T. Rybak what he wanted Tuesday: four more years to run the city.

Rybak defeated Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin 61 percent to 37 percent to retain his position as mayor of Minneapolis.

Both candidates spent Election Day attempting to sway undecided voters and increase turnout .

Rybak targeted student-voters with appearances on the University campus at Coffman Union, the superblock and Middlebrook Hall, said Max Page, University DFL president.

At one point, the mayor was told to leave because he was too close to one of the polling places, Page said.

“Today I was running through the dorms and telling students they had four hours left to prove that politicians should pay attention to students, and they listened,” Rybak said.

He said he wants to take the enthusiasm he sees on campus and use it to champion causes such as the environment and opposition to the war in Iraq.

McLaughlin stumped with voters on the light rail lines and at various locations in north and south Minneapolis on Tuesday, said campaign manager Nancy Beals.

The commissioner said he knew from the beginning challenging Rybak would be tough.

“I think we always knew it was an uphill fight,” McLaughlin said.

He said many Minneapolis residents live comfortably and don’t realize the serious problems in some neighborhoods impact the entire city.

“For many people in this city, life is very very good, but I was bringing up concern for the people where life wasn’t so good,” McLaughlin said.

But he said the discussion will benefit Minneapolis.

“Elections are about winning and losing, but they are also about raising issues,” McLaughlin said.

Page said he thought more students supported Rybak because he made a larger effort than McLaughlin to reach out to University students.

“On campus, R.T. seems more popular, you don’t see as many Peter supporters,” he said.

But microbiology senior Colin Schwensohn said that although the differences between the two candidates are marginal, he supported McLaughlin because of his experience as Hennepin County Commissioner and as a state representative.

“Rybak hasn’t really done anything I disapprove of, but the last few years have been kind of lackluster,” Schwensohn said.

He said McLaughlin’s broad union support and continued attention to the north side of Minneapolis, where Schwensohn lives, helped convince him to support the candidate.

“He paid more attention to my neck of the woods,” Schwensohn said, “but R.T was more visible on campus.”

University history and political science senior Kevin McClean interned for Rybak’s campaign and said it was his willingness to talk with people that drew him to the mayor.

“He wants to get out and talk to people, and that really appealed to me,” McClean said.

He said the mayor’s take on economics and concern for his fellow citizens impressed him.