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 liveable 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 commend Mayor Rybak’s many years of public service. Moving forward, we face big challenges. I believe that by working together to create sustainable growth we can make big progress. As your Mayor, I will get the results we need to make Minneapolis a better place for all residents today, while preparing our city for the future.
When I think about “livability”, I think of the quality the life. Harvey Milk said it best, “we have to understand that the quality of life, is more important that the standard of living.” Harvey was right. My approach will be completely different, in that I’ll be the Mayor who puts people over politics, and I’ll invest in our human capital, so we can improve our quality of life in Minneapolis
Ensuring that all of our children have a path to prosperity through education, creating long-term economic development through our investment in transit, and establishing greater community input in city decision-making are top priorities.
As a long-time resident of Minneapolis with 27-years of audit and corporate and small business experience and a proud public servant as the Mayor’s appointed member of our Audit Committee, I believe I have the perfect balance of experience to be your next Mayor of Minneapolis.
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?
This topic is very near and dear to my heart and public safety for all our citizens is of the utmost importance. This is a multi-dimensional issue that requires collaboration from all of those who have a stake in our city, not just the police, but our schools, business community, parents, neighbors, and community at-large. With all of us working together to provide a comprehensive, long-term solution that includes prioritized law enforcement, alongside sustainable economic development and quality public education, we can keep our city safe.
3. Block E hasn’t been a great success. What would you support doing with the site to make Hennepin Avenue a better venue?
As your Mayor, I would promote sustainable growth development along Hennepin Avenue, the entire downtown area, and city-wide. This includes more public green space, improving downtown walkability, and working with local businesses who have vested interest in downtown development. I would put Hennepin Avenue as a priority over any money spent on Nicollet Mall.
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’m all for public “investing”, not spending. You can’t socialize the downside, and privatize the upside, so any requested projects have to be negotiated for a “win-win” for both.
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?
With 27 years of executive-level audit experience and now serving on the city’s Audit Committee, I am well-prepared to manage the city’s balance sheet. I have built a career ensuring efficiency in spending and have seen first-hand how city hall operates. The US Public Interest Research Group recently gave Minneapolis a D- grade and placed it among the least transparent major cities in the country when it comes to sharing spending data. As your Mayor, I would create a more open Minneapolis.
6. What direction do you think Minneapolis should take concerning energy use and affordability for residents and businesses?
We need to continue to work with our energy providers so we get the best deal possible. I am totally against the idea of Minneapolis owning its own utility. We are in the people business, not the energy business. The energy companies invest billions of dollars each year, for many years, so we have access to the best. Now, there are efficient and cost effective things we can do, like developing solar gardens in neighborhoods where it makes best business sense. And, we should strive for a zero waste city by 2025, by first educating our children…gradually, I know we can get there. These low cost initiatives can make a huge impact on our overall footprint and move our green city, even greener.