At Issue: Election Day, Renovation Deals Reached in Minneapolis

Updated: 01/07/2014 3:38 PM By: Heidi Enninga

In this week's edition of At Issue, host Tom Hauser takes an in-depth look at the local political issues that affect you.

Tuesday is Election Day, and the race for Minneapolis Mayor is wide-open for the 35-candidate pool thanks in part to current Mayor R.T. Rybak not running for re-election after 12 years in office.

Collectively, the mayoral candidates have raised about $1.7 million. Mark Andrew is the top fundraising candidate. He has brought in $420,000 so far. Dan Cohen has spent $320,000, mostly of his own money. Betsy Hodges raised $258,000 and Cam Winton drew in $108,000.

Minneapolis voters will be using ranked-choice voting to pick their mayor. Minneapolis Elections Director Grace Wachlarowicz and Jeanne Massey of FairVote Minnesota talked in studio with host Tom Hauser about how low primary turnout affected the decision to move to the ranked-choice system, how prepared the city and its citizens are for the switch and what will go on behind the scenes to come up with a winner.

The high number of mayoral candidates prompted Rybak to voice concern on his blog about the $20 filing fee for candidates. The fee is low compared to other cities in the country, including St. Paul where it is $500.

With only days left in office, Rybak announced he is set to become Executive Director of Generation Next when he leaves office. The nonprofit's mission is to close the racial achievement gap in education. He said he hasn't ruled out running for public office again.

Former Republican Rep. Jim Knoblauch filed suit to stop construction of a new $90 million senate office building, which was authorized in the omnibus tax bill. Knoblauch said the procedure to pass the bill is illegal because it mixed taxes and spending in the same bill.

A deal this week to pay for the $97 million Target Center renovation has the City of Minneapolis paying for half. Minneapolis will contribute $48.5 million, the Timberwolves and Lynx will pay $43 million, and Target Center operators AEG will pay $5.5 million. The upgrades will include new gathering spaces, premium seating, upgraded loading docks and lighting and sound equipment for concerts. The city council is set to vote on the plan on Nov. 12 and construction is planned to last 2 years and start next spring.

Minneapolis officials pitched their plans for a major Nicollet Mall revamp project to state lawmakers in the hope of getting $25 million from the state in 2014, which is half the total price tag. The plan includes more greenery, sidewalk cafes, and even fire pits in the fall and winter months.

In Political Analysis, Republican strategist Ben Golnik and former DFL State Sen. Ember Reichgott Junge discussed which of the 35 Minneapolis mayoral candidates might have the best chance of rising to the top on Election Day.

In Face Off, former Matt Entenza, DFL house minority leader, and Brian McClung, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's chief of staff, discussed the implications of the less-than-smooth rollout of the Affordable Care Act.