In the Spotlight

News & Features
Respond to this story

DocumentE-mail this pageDocumentPrint this page
County commissioner to run for mayor of Minneapolis
Larger view
Peter McLaughlin announced his candidacy for mayor of Minneapolis Thursday. McLaughlin is a member of the Hennepin County Commission. (MPR Photo/Art Hughes)
Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin officially launched his campaign to unseat Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak Thursday. McLaughlin says he wants to do a better job than the current administration on public safety, education and neighborhood issues. He's the first candidate to enter the race.

Minneapolis, Minn. — McLaughlin and Rybak are both DFLers, and have stood side by side promoting the Hiawatha Light Rail line and redevelopment of the Sears Building on Lake Street. But the two are long-time political foes.

Four years ago, McLaughlin headed the campaign for then-incumbent Sharon Sayles Belton. Rybak, a newcomer, failed to get the DFL endorsement, but soundly beat Sayles Belton in both the primary and general elections.

Now, McLaughlin takes Rybak head on, saying the administration has slipped up on adequate support for police and firefighters, advocacy for public schools and help for neighborhoods.

"We can, and must, do better. The next four years are crucial to the strength of our schools, the safety of this city and the ability of our residents to invest and engage and dream," McLaughlin said.

The mayor is proud of his record. He's done a lot more with less, and he's proud of everything he's done for the city.
- Bill Hyers, Mayor Rybak's campaign manager

Rybak hasn't formally announced his re-election bid, but has hired a campaign manager. Rybak has said he enjoys the job and it wouldn't surprise anyone if he ran again. But his administration is beset by chronic financial problems, compounded by state aid cuts and deficits incurred before he took office.

McLaughlin, a prominent advocate for light rail transit, made his announcement beside a Hiawatha Line station. Afterward, he seized on recent scuffles over funding the city's police department.

"We need a stable level of funding and support for law enforcement. We can't let that sort of bounce up and down, or as it's done recently, go down," he said.

McLaughlin also maintains Rybak has not done enough to bolster public school support. Schools have a separate funding stream than the city, and mayors typically have little control over school issues.

But McLaughlin says outside officials can be more supportive. As an example, he points to $200,000 he pushed for as a commissioner for better developmental screening for preschoolers.

"To raise the level of screening above 90 percent, which is where it needs to be -- shooting toward 100 percent -- and then that created a self-sustaining source of funds when the reimbursements for that came in a year later," McLaughlin said. "The schools didn't have the cash to do that. I identified a strategy from the county in that case to provide the resources."

About 30 people showed up to McLaughlin's campaign kickoff in south Minneapolis. Among them was Jana Metge, an active Phillips neighborhood resident and chair of the Weed and Seed program there. She says McLaughlin keeps to his word.

"Peter McLaughlin is my hero. I have worked with him for 18 years, I've been a resident of Phillips for 22 years. And in those 18 years he has never let me down," said Metge.

Rybak's campaign manager, Bill Hyers, says the mayor is not ready to answer every issue. He says Rybak is looking forward to a good and fair discussion after he officially announces his re-election campaign.

"The mayor is proud of his record. He's done a lot more with less, and he's proud of everything he's done for the city," said Hyers. "He really looks forward to his upcoming campaign, where he's going to be able to talk about what he's done on various issues, and engage the public on what it is to be the mayor of Minneapolis, on what a great city we're at, and what we can do in the future."

McLaughlin started as Hennepin County commissioner serving south Minneapolis in 1990. For six years before that he served in the Legislature.

News Headlines
Related Subjects