Independent candidate runs for mayor as ‘Old Skool’ party

Tim Sturrock

Editor’s note: This profile is part of The Minnesota Daily’s continuing coverage of Minneapolis’ mayoral candidates.

Ask Steven Houdek why he wants to be mayor of Minneapolis and he’ll ask you, “Why not?”

A week before the filing deadline the 30-year-old south Minneapolis resident asked himself the same question.

It was easier than he thought. Minneapolis only requires a candidate to pay a small fee, be 21 years old and have lived in the city for 30 days.

“I found out I was eligible and paid my 20 bucks,” He said. “I want people to know how easy it is to run for public office.”

Houdek is one of 22 candidates running for mayor, the largest pool in at least 20 years.

The official list of candidates has Houdek registered with the “Old Skool party.”

“I don’t affiliate with any major party and (the city) requires you put down something,” he said.

The three-year Minneapolis resident doesn’t have specific plans for the city but isn’t without ideas.

He describes himself as a skeptic and said he doesn’t understand why the city agreed to subsidize the Block “E” and the Target store on Nicollet Mall.

“I think we need to get away from that. I don’t think the city needs to be involved with funding major corporations’ new buildings,” he said.

Houdek said he wants to extend bar hours to 2:30 a.m., hold the police department more accountable for racial profiling and enact a campaign to educate people about mental illness.

This last idea would tap Houdek’s expertise. For the last four years, he’s taught job skills to and taken care of mentally ill people at Chrestomathy Center in south Minneapolis .

Houdek said he wants to study other cities for housing crisis solutions.

Houdek’s student government experience at St. Cloud State University spurred his interest in politics, which he said is growing the more he learns about the field.

He said his age bridges a gap between young and old citizens. “The saying is ‘don’t trust anyone over thirty,’ but I think we can still relate,” he said.

If Houdek wins, he said he’ll go to First Avenue and dance all night.

But although he doesn’t think his chances are good, he said he is gaining something from the bid.

“It’s a learning experience.” he said.

DFL mayoral candidate R.T. Rybak said he wishes fringe candidates – such as Houdek – had more chances to be heard. He said it’s unfortunate that only “a small amount of people have a monopoly on great ideas for the city.”

Houdek said his chances might improve in a few years.

“Maybe four years from now I’ll run for City Council – which is what I thought this time, but then I said ‘what the heck, I’ll run for mayor.'”

 

Tim Sturrock encourages comments at [email protected]