Flowers: ‘I can’t do four more years of fighting’

Community activist kicks off mayoral bid, says he wants to bring justice back to City Hall

Al Flowers has been a regular fixture at public hearings and local government meetings, frequently speaking out — often loudly — about what he calls injustices at City Hall. In the past month, he decided that he’s done with that.

“I can’t do four more years of fighting this administration Downtown,” Flowers said.
Instead, he wants to create change by becoming the administration. Flowers this morning announced a bid for mayor of Minneapolis in front of about two dozen family members and friends at Kenny Park.

“The sun is shining just a little bit brighter in Minneapolis this morning because help is on the way,” he said.

The owner of Central neighborhood-based Best Reflections Daycare, Flowers said he wants to train Minneapolis residents for jobs at local businesses and remove an “us vs. them” mentality between the community and the police. If he were elected, he said he would remove both the current police chief and director of the Department of Community Planning and Development, Tim Dolan and Mike Christenson, respectively. He supports the expansion of light rail, reducing public transit fares and increasing outreach to low-income communities.

Currently, he said, his biggest issues are with the handling of the Minneapolis Empowerment Zone, part of a federal program to create sustainable communities that runs through the end of this year. He questioned how millions of dollars were spent, whether it did any good and whether residents have been kept appropriately informed.

“I think I’ll be a great mayor,” he said, “because I’ll bring truth to the people.”

But Flowers isn’t running only for those causes. He’s also entered the political fray to provide a challenger to Mayor R.T. Rybak, who is seeking a third term.

Flowers doesn’t see eye to eye with many of Rybak’s policies, and he repeatedly said the only way for people to get a chance to see Rybak defend himself would be for someone to directly question him on the campaign trail.

Flowers isn’t Rybak’s only challenger. South Minneapolis’ Dick Franson and Whittier’s John Charles Wilson are also in the race, while Bob Miller, director of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program, has indefinitely suspended his campaign. But Flowers likely will be one of the more — if not the most — outspoken critics.

He said President Barack Obama would be embarrassed by some of what’s happened in Minneapolis during Rybak’s eight years as mayor, directly attacking the mayor’s close affiliation with the new president.

“This run for mayor will let Obama know, let the Justice Department know, [that] we can’t be a separated city anymore,” Flowers said.
Betty Ellison-Harpole, who called herself part of Flowers’ support structure, said he would be a mayor with an open mind.

“He cares,” she said. “He’s honest. And he’s passionate about the people and the needs of the people.”
Flowers, a resident of the Kenny neighborhood, is married and has five children. Along with running Best Reflections, he also has a show on public access television.