Thursday afternoon, Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak formally announced he will not be seeking a fourth term, while declaring an ambitious agenda for his last year in office.
“We will sprint across the finish line,” Rybak said in a statement emailed to reporters, “So fasten your seatbelts. This lame duck isn’t quacking yet.”
Rybak's decision sets off a domino chain in city politics, freeing up several local greats to run for the city's top spot. Before Christmas, both City Council Member Betsy Hodges (Ward 13) and Minneapolis school board member Hussein Samatar (District 3) said they would run for mayor if Rybak didn't. Council Member Gary Schiff (Ward 9) had declared he would run regardless of Rybak's decision. , earlier this month said he would run for Hodges' seat if she did not.
In an email to reporters, Hodges praised Rybak's record, crediting him for helping get the city's finances in order, increasing public safety, and "spearheading Minneapolis’ transformation into a self-confident, nationally-respected city will stand the test of time." The email noted Hodges' role as the City Council's finance whiz, having chaired its budget committee for several years.
"I am proud to have worked closely with Mayor Rybak on many initiatives — most especially on putting our city on firm financial footing, and firmly keeping it there — that have made Minneapolis far stronger than it was 12 years ago," she wrote. "His announcement that he will not seek a fourth term leaves a huge void, but also creates a great opportunity for those of us who believe that Minneapolis can become the great city of the 21st century to do even more to make that happen."
In Thursday's announcement, Rybak pledged to continue to be closely involved in city politics once his mayoral term ends in 2013. He also laid out a laundry list of goals and priorities for his "sprint to the finish line" next year. According to an email sent to reporters:
You can expect our work plan to include:
- helping Chief Harteau reform the police department, and expanding our work to prevent youth violence and gun violence;
- helping Superintendent Johnson and our partners improve our schools and eliminate the achievement gap;
- expanding the Minneapolis Promise, especially the STEP-UP jobs program;
- improving north Minneapolis, including helping the Northside Achievement Zone, building new Green Homes, and working with Hennepin County to reimagine Penn Avenue North;
- starting to redevelop the new stadium district;
- developing a renovation plan for the Target Center;
- designing a new Nicollet Mall with a streetcar, and a strategy for finally reopening Nicollet and Lake;
- and working with the Legislature on transit, Local Government Aid and reforming property taxes.