Mpls. mayoral race heats up summer

Three candidates will be in contention for votes leading up to Nov. 8.

Derrick Biney

ACorrection: The Daily contained misleading information about the mayoral race. A Sept. 13 primary will eliminate one of the three candidates running; the top two, regardless of party, will advance to the general election in November.

As the fall 2005 city elections approach, candidates for Minneapolis mayor are campaigning for votes throughout the city this summer.

Three candidates are running for mayor of Minneapolis. The election is set for Nov. 8.

Two candidates are from the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party – incumbent R.T. Rybak and Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin. The third candidate, Farheen Hakeem, is the membership coordinator for the Girl Scout Council of Greater Minneapolis and a member of the Green Party.

During the summer, the candidates will attend festivals and community events to raise awareness about their candidacies. Minneapolis residents are also likely to see them knocking on doors asking for support.

“The campaign is the job interview, and the position is the job,” Hakeem said. “The job interviewing process is exhaustive, but it’s worth it.”

Mayor must be leader

The city of Minneapolis is in a critical period, McLaughlin said, and it needs effective leadership from the mayor’s office.

“To me, the job of mayor is a leadership position, and I have spent my adult life performing community-service work,” he said. “I believe we need stronger and more effective leadership. I am somebody who brings people to the table to get things done.”

The main issues McLaughlin’s campaign focuses on are improving the public educational system in Minneapolis, building stronger neighborhoods through the Neighborhood Revitalization Program and increasing the safety of Minneapolis residents, he said.

“This race is about the future of the city,” he said. “It’s about making bold investments and gaining fuller participation.”

Larry Jacobs, a University political science professor, said McLaughlin is going to give Rybak a strong challenge.

Although neither Rybak nor McLaughlin received an endorsement at the city DFL convention last month, McLaughlin said the day was a big victory for his campaign, gaining support all across the board.

“Four years ago, Mayor Rybak’s win was a stunning upset,” McLaughlin said, referring to Rybak’s win against incumbent Sharon Sayles-Belton.

“Not the usual politician”

Although Hakeem has not received much attention from the media, Jacobs said she is someone to keep an eye out for.

“She is raising issues and bringing perspective,” Jacobs said.

Hakeem said critics who overlook her chances fail to realize that Minnesota is a strong progressive state. She said she has a stronger chance of winning than many would imagine.

“I think people in Minneapolis love the underdog,” Hakeem said. “I think they like someone who is not the usual politician.”

Hakeem’s campaign revolves around affordable housing for residents, achieving sustainable economics and having an anti-racist approach to public safety, she said.

Though she is not an elected official, Hakeem said she has years of political activism and community development work as experience.

“I have been a community organizer, advocate for many people (youth and immigrants), an educator and an activist,” she said. “I have the really needed skill of building bridges – bringing people together of different community and cultures.”

She said she is asking voters to make an investment in her to stand up for them.

“I am asking people to agree with what I have to say,” she said. “I’m not bringing in a lot of political baggage or coming in with a preconceived look at politics. I am coming in looking at the political system with an objective view.”

Multiple calls to reach Rybak’s campaign for comment were not returned.