Rybak to seek re-election, makes campaign promises

Jerret Raffety

The race for mayor of Minneapolis is gearing up.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, a Democrat, announced Sunday the beginning of his campaign for re-election in front of an audience of supporters and community members at the Franklin Art Works on East Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis.

Surrounded by his family, Rybak announced his candidacy by recalling Franklin Avenue before the Neighborhood Revitalization Program.

“When I was young and my dad’s drug store was around the corner from here, this building we’re in today was a porn store so scuzzy, it would make Pee-wee Herman cringe,” Rybak said during his speech. “Today, we’re seeing an artistic renaissance on Franklin Avenue.”

Aside from the Neighborhood Revitalization Program, Rybak listed his accomplishments, including construction of 2,000 affordable housing units, the creation of 4,500 new jobs in the last year and the $180 million redevelopment of the Sears building in the Phillips neighborhood.

The redevelopment will provide headquarters for Allina Hospital and bring 1,400 new jobs to Minneapolis, Rybak said.

Rybak said a chief priority throughout his previous term and into his next will be the city budget. He cited the creation of five consecutive balanced budgets among his accomplishments.

For students, Rybak said, one of his priorities is to create more entry-level jobs and housing, as well as more-efficient mass transit. He also wants to maintain funding and protection for the arts and their venues, he said.

“We need to give this city a new sense of cool, because

this is not your father’s Minneapolis,” Rybak said after his speech.

Rybak stressed student involvement in city and state politics, which resonated with some students in attendance.

“Rybak knows we’re growing activists (at the University) to turn the city and state in the direction it needs to be,” said Chris Montana, a General College junior and College Democrats of Minnesota chairman.

Rybak’s opponent for the Democratic nomination to run for mayor, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, said Rybak failed to deliver on several promises of his previous term, including removal of snow from roads within 24 hours, substantial progress on environmental policy and elimination of political fund-raisers during noncampaign time.

McLaughlin said he has 14 years of experience representing the University’s district on the Hennepin County Board and as a result, he is very familiar with the issues that face students.

McLaughlin’s priorities include addressing public safety issues by supplementing the Minneapolis police force and expansion of light rail to include the University, he said.

McLaughlin also stressed the need for students to get involved in city politics. “We’d like to invite students to the table to participate in shaping the city,” McLaughlin said.