Remington to run for mayor if Rybak doesn’t

City Council Member Ralph Remington (10th Ward) said early this month that he planned to run for reelection in 2009 unless R.T. Rybak opted out of the mayoral race, in which case Remington would look to fill that seat.  

The first-time council member said he would “go where he was needed.” He considered Rybak an ally and said challenging the mayor wouldn’t make sense.

“R.T. and I agree at any given time on 90–95 percent of the issues,” Remington said. “We might have some big disagreements, but it’s generally a good deal. We would be forcing the base to split itself up if we go against each other and we can accomplish twice as much working together.”

But if Rybak wasn’t in the picture, Remington said he’d be compelled to run for the city’s top spot, picking up where the mayor left off.

“R.T. has created a healthy and strong foundation for the city to move forward beyond his tenure, whenever that may be,” Remington said. “And I’m sure if he stays on he’ll continue further in that vein and if he decides to leave I would welcome the opportunity to pick up the mantle and move that forward.”

Rybak has not announced whether he will seek another term, but as an early supporter of President-Elect Barack Obama, he has been rumored to be a possible choice for the new administration. He’s also been talked about as a potential candidate for the governor’s race.    

Regardless of what Rybak does and which post Remington decides to run for, the council member said balancing the budget, dealing with the ailing economy and working on livability, environment, transit and safety issues are priorities. So is improving representation of “many communities that may not have felt represented in the past, or may want to see themselves reflected in the city,” he said.

Some highlights of Remington’s term so far include the development of a land-use plan for Uptown, tightening restrictions on aggressive panhandling, advocating for the city’s controversial makeover of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP), pushing for a just-as-controversial ban on circus animals and more recently, proposing regulations for newspaper boxes.  

Remington said he is confident about the support of his constituents, though his relationship with some neighborhood organizations has become strained. The Lyndale Neighborhood Organization (LNA) Board of Directors recently sent Remington a letter expressing frustration about the council member’s “comments and votes during the recent City Council discussions regarding the future of neighborhoods in Minneapolis.”

Remington has not been a supporter of the current NRP structure; a main argument being that the power-holders are not fully representative of the neighborhoods they serve, particularly at a multicultural level. That is a point of contention with some neighborhood groups, including LNA, which said in its letter that the neighborhood group “has a long history of achieving our goals by building a working multi-cultural community.”

Other Ward 10 neighborhood organizations, such as the East Harriet Farmstead Neighborhood Association (EHFNA) have gotten along better Remington.

“Ralph has been supportive and attentive to every request and initiative for which we have asked for his assistance,” said EHFNA President Matt Perry.

Overall, Remington said he’s comfortable with his relationship with neighborhood organizations and noted that they are only a part of the Ward 10 population.

“I do serve all the neighborhoods and the people who live there, whether they are part of the neighborhood group or not,” he said.  

Whether Remington runs for a second council term or for Mayor, he will face competition.

Bob Miller, director of the NRP, threw in his mayoral bid in November. Meg Tuthill, a longtime Southwest business owner and resident, said she will run for the Ward 10 spot. Doug Kress, policy aide for Council Member Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) and Ward 10 candidate in 2001, said he was considering a run for Remington’s seat, too.  

Reach Jake Weyer at 436-4367 or jweyer@mnpubs.com.