City Council member Ralph Remington (10th Ward) announced Monday that he would not seek another term.
“I just feel like these jobs should have a shelf life,” Remington said. “And I didn’t come into the City Council to stay for 12 or 15 years. That’s just not me.”
Remington said previously that he planned to seek reelection unless Mayor R.T. Rybak opted out of the mayoral race, in which case the first-term Council member would run for that spot. But he said in an interview Monday that he changed his mind.
“The fact of the matter is that you have to ultimately decide where you want to be.”
Remington, 46, has a background in theatre and social activism, but was a political unknown when he was elected in 2005. As far as what the future holds for him, he said he’s keeping his options open. Arts, theatre, nonprofits, politics; they’re all possibilities, Remington said.
He said he wants to put all his skills to work before he gets too old.
"I don’t like to let the grass grow under my feet for too long," Remington said. "I want to be used up when I die."
The CARAG resident said he plans to stay in Minneapolis.
During his council term, Remington lead the development of a land-use plan for Uptown, tightened restrictions on aggressive panhandling, advocated for the city’s makeover of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP), pushed for a controversial ban on circus animals and won council support for regulations on newspaper boxes.
Lately, he’s been working on a trans-fat ban and lobbying for nutritional labeling at restaurants.
One of two black council members, the other being Don Samuels (5th Ward), Remington said he served as a mouthpiece for that community and others not often heard while he was in council.
“I think I have given a voice to people who have felt voiceless in the past,” Remington said.
Remington’s decisions as Council member have stirred controversy at times, particularly among some neighborhood groups.
Twyla Dixon served as president of Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association [LHENA] at a time when the neighborhood board sometimes clashed with Remington. Dixon left the board last year but still lives in The Wedge.
“I think that the contention we had with Ralph … really came with sort of trying to find a champion of neighborhood-related issues rather than broader, city-driven goals,” Dixon said.
She said she was disappointed, in particular, that Remington did not fight to preserve the Neighborhood Revitalization Program [NRP]. The City Council last year voted in support of ending NRP — which funneled millions of dollars to neighborhoods — in favor of another neighborhood support program.
Remington has long argued that power-holders in the existing NRP structure don’t fully represent the communities they serve, especially at a multicultural level.
But Remington’s stance on NRP hasn’t shaken his relationship with every neighborhood group.
"There has not been a situation where the neighborhood has asked for support and help from council member Remington and he didn’t respond in a very timely and thorough manner," said Matt Perry, president of the East Harriet Farmstead Neighborhood Association (EHFNA) and a long-time supporter of Remington.
Perry specifically praised Remington for his assistance on traffic and safety concerns related to the ongoing Lyndale Avenue reconstruction, and his advocacy on development issues at the Lyndale & 40th Street intersection.
"We’ve had a tremendously good experience with him," Perry said. "We would like to have the same kind of relationship with the next representative we have."
CARAG board chair Aaron Rubenstein declined to comment specifically on Remington’s announcement, but said the neighborhood looks forward to working with whoever is elected to replace him.
"I hope we’ll have a council member who wants to work with the neighborhoods and will listen and have a good dialogue," he said.
Remington’s departure opens the field for Meg Tuthill, a Lowry Hill East resident and business owner, and Doug Kress, a Kingfield resident and policy aide to City Council Member Lisa Goodman (7th Ward).
Tuthill, who has lived in Lowry Hill East for 30 years and run Tuthill’s Balloon Emporium at 25th & Hennepin for most of that time, decided to run late last year. Kress has not made an official announcement, but plans to soon. Remington’s decision was a factor, Kress said.
"I’ve been meeting with my team and we plan to have a conversation this week and make a formal announcement by the end of this week or early next week," Kress said.
His Kingfield home puts him in the 8th Ward, but Kress said he’s been looking for a new place in the 10th Ward. He has to make the move at least 30 days prior to the election to be eligible.
Kress lost the Ward 10 race to Dan Niziolek in 2001. He is good friends with Tuthill, who is running for the first time.
"Anytime you have a friend (in the race) it’s a little more challenging," Kress said. "Meg has her own philosophies and I have mine about making Uptown and the 10th Ward the best place to live, work and play. Together, I think you will hear a great conversation about ideas for the future."