Republican mayoral contender Johari runs unendorsed

Robyn Repya

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

Republican mayoral candidate Rodney Johari has fond memories of his time at the University. “I enjoyed a humanities course. It opened me up to a variety of perspectives I might not have had,” he said.

Johari, a north Minneapolis resident, has spent 32 of his 44 years in Minneapolis. He attended the University from 1975 to 1982, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a law degree.

Johari now writes grants and is working on a book about his testimony to the Minnesota Legislature on children and families.

The book focuses on what Johari calls a social phenomenon, the decline of the married, two-parent family – which he said causes many problems facing Minneapolis.

As a solution, Johari said the no-fault divorce law should be repealed.

“People know they can get out of relationships and get paid, it’s similar to welfare” he said.

Johari said single parent families have less time to spend with children, resulting in many problems for society.

“We need to put a premium on two-parent families and be able to expect more discipline at home … schools can’t play cop and teacher,” he said.

Johari claims the family situation is also responsible for the problems within public education.

“Public education is a complete disaster … in Minneapolis we graduate fewer than 30 percent of African-American students in our high schools,” he said.

Johari emphasized that although the mayor is not ultimately responsible for education, the office can direct alternatives toward the Legislature, such as school vouchers.

Another core issue in Johari’s
campaign has been improving relations between police and the community.

Speaking of current mayor Sharon Sayles Belton’s performance on this issue, Johari said, “She has done a tremendous job in decreasing crime during her administration, but the problem is there’s a corresponding rise of distrust in the community with police actions.”

Johari plans to address
racial profiling concerns, “I plan to be in the community, talking to people concerned about racial profiling and teach them not to profile themselves,” he said.

The concerns over racial profiling and police-community relations relate to Johari’s main agenda, “To return confidence, trust and respect to city government,” he said.

With recent reports of corruption within the city government, Johari maintains the cause is the political makeup of those in City Hall.

“If we do have a corrupt government, citizens should be aware that the tendency for that to occur is much greater under single-party
circumstances,” he said.

When questioned on his feelings about including only four candidates in televised debates, Johari warned of danger.

“That shows the potential for abuse and perpetuates the status quo,” he said.

Though Johari is the only Republican running for mayor, he is not endorsed by the Republican Party.

“I don’t enjoy financial support from the Republican party. Many of them support (fellow mayor candidate Mark) Stenglein through the back door … I feel a sense of betrayal. If you’re going to appeal to Republicans, at least be proud to be one,” said Johari.

Stenglein, an Independent candidate, said he appeals to a little of both major parties.

“I believe that the market, if you let it work, will do things for people; it makes goods and services. But I’m also not opposed to spending money where I think its necessary,” he said.

Mayoral candidate John Hartwig is a Republican, but chose to run Independent.

When asked why he didn’t run as a Republican, Hartwig responded, “I didn’t think you could run as one without an endorsement.”

Hartwig, however, did not seek a Republican endorsement, saying “Being an Independent you can mix your own salad and put in what you want, Republican and Democrat.”