This series of questions and answers with some of the Minneapolis mayoral candidates is to give the GLBT community a glimpse of five of the candidates this year. Lavender selected five diverse candidates from the field of almost three dozen to give readers a taste of their ideas and philosophies. Six questions have been formulated to give these candidates a place to express their leadership styles and approaches to governance. These questions are on general topics because the GLBT community is as interested in safe communities, accountable government, and budget priorities as the rest of the greater Minneapolis community. Since Minneapolis is the largest city in the state and its downtown has many amenities used by the rest of the state, this mayor’s race affects people living outside its borders. Hopefully, this series will interest and inform your choice for mayor and stimulate discussions.
1. Mayor Rybak really pushed for making Minneapolis a more “livable” city advocating for more public art, mass transit and community programs. How would your approach as mayor differ and what would be the theme for your term?
I am proud to have partnered with Mayor Rybak to make Minneapolis a more livable city advocating for more public art, mass transit and community programs. We have the infrastructure and the economy to support one of the nation’s strongest bike cultures, and a whole economy surrounding food, bars, and beer. Minneapolis is now a cultural center not only because of its renowned institutions – the Guthrie Theater, the Walker Art Center, and dozens more – but because of the culture of art we have in our city, manifesting itself in murals, coffeeshop art, displays at light rail stops, events like the fringe festival, and hundreds more examples surrounding us every day.
2. Safe neighborhoods are important to all citizens but the GLBT community is especially sensitive on this issue. How would you work with police, community groups, and the city council towards making the city safer?
I have laid out my plan for police accountability, I am 100% dedicated to removing any bigotry or racism that exists among any public safety officers, and I am determined to ensure that civilian review of police work is effective and comprehensive. I will continue to work on the budget process to ensure the police department has the resources they need to train and coach their officers and to keep every neighborhood in Minneapolis secure and protected. Minneapolis will be truly great when every person in every neighborhood has a chance for success, and that starts with equality: equality of rights, equality of opportunity, and equality of treatment under the law and by agents of government.
3. Block E hasn’t been a great success. What would you support doing with the site to make Hennepin Avenue a better venue?
My first time in City Hall was to oppose the development of Block E. Clearly, that space needs dramatic renovation or simply to be torn down. I am open to a number of ideas for what to do with the space, but I am determined not to see it become another public subsidized bad bet. As Mayor, I will not use the taxpayers’ money on these kinds of private sector projects that don’t pass the litmus test for public subsidies.
4. Mayor Rybak was an advocate for public spending on the Vikings’ stadium. If the Timberwolves, for example, began demanding a new arena, how would you deal with that situation?
I would say, “no.”
5. The GLBT community members are taxpayers and as such we care about accountability for the city’s budget. How would you make sure we aren’t wasting money on duplicate programs or unproductive initiatives?
My career in public service has been devoted to making Minneapolis’ budget reflect our values and give the taxpayer the greatest possible return on investment, and I am committed to holding all programs and initiatives to the highest standards of efficiency. I have worked with Mayor Rybak for years, fighting for pension reform and balancing the budget to save the City millions of dollars, protect our important priorities, and lower taxes. Every policy I have unveiled – and every policy I will unveil as a candidate and as Mayor – includes an oversight component that will make sure there is no duplication of efforts.
6. What direction do you think Minneapolis should take concerning energy use and affordability for residents and businesses?
We should advocate fiercely to get the best deal for Minneapolis. As Mayor, I will fight for more affordable energy and energy that is made responsibly in a way that lowers our greenhouse gas emissions and creates a cleaner, healthier environment for Minneapolis families. We must hold ourselves and our partners accountable to deliver better, 21st-century energy to Minneapolis residents.