Candidates talk city government reforms

Five mayoral hopefuls have platforms to alter the stadium deal, police department and city offices.

Candidates talk city government reforms

Nathaniel Rabuzzi

If Bill Kahn is elected mayor of Minneapolis, he said he’ll use his new power to eliminate the mayor’s office entirely.

Kahn is running against 34 other mayoral candidates, including James Stroud, Jaymie Kelly, Jeffrey Wagner and Neal Baxter, in the Nov. 5 election.

Kahn’s platform centers on being the “Last Minneapolis Mayor.” If elected, he said, he would replace the office with a city manager and staff to manage Minneapolis like a CEO runs a company.

“The mayor is just a figurehead,” he said.

Stroud also said he wants to reform city government. If elected, he said, he would establish a new committee to train and educate city workers so they are better informed.

Candidates also said they would reform the city’s police department as mayor.

Kahn said as mayor, he would require officers to purchase their own liability insurance instead of being covered by the department. He said the plan would solve police misconduct problems.

“We’ve got too many thugs in the department,” Kahn said.

Baxter said if elected, he would establish a new civilian review board with the authority to fully investigate allegations of police misconduct, similar to the city’s current Police Conduct Review Panel. He said his board would rely more heavily on citizen input than the current one.

If the board members have the power to lead their own investigations, their recommendations would more likely be accepted by the police chief and City Council, Baxter said.

Kelly agreed that increasing police accountability is important. She said neighborhood associations should elect civilians to review cases of misconduct.

“I think it should be removed from the mayor appointing people. … That just doesn’t work,” she said.

The new Vikings stadium also was an area in which candidates would like to see changes.

Stroud, Kelly and Wagner said they want to change how the Vikings operate and turn ownership of the team over to the community, similar to the Green Bay Packers, the only publicly owned major-league sports team in the country.

Baxter said constructing the new Vikings stadium downtown should be “a neighborhood asset, not a liability.”

The new stadium could harm a neighborhood if it’s not pedestrian-friendly and the surrounding area doesn’t include additional attractions to keep fans in the area, he said.

In addition to the Vikings stadium, Wagner’s platform is focused on marijuana legalization and women in government.

He said medical amnesty laws should be reworked to legalize marijuana use in Minnesota.

If elected to succeed Mayor R.T. Rybak, Wagner said he would make sure marijuana users aren’t afraid to call 911 for help in case of a medical emergency.

Wagner said he would also use his role as mayor to advertise a new political party called the “Iron Panty Party” to try to give all roles in government to women.

“We need to get dudes out of politics,” he said.