Councilman Gary Schiff has thrown his hat into the ring to be the next Mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Schiff who has served on the Council for eleven years is considered a leading contender for the position. If he wins, he will be the first openly LGBT Mayor in the history of the city. The Mayor's seat will become vacant with the departure of three term Mayor Rybak.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported:
One of the earliest rumored candidates for mayor, Council Member Gary Schiff, made his campaign official Tuesday before a packed room of supporters at a brewery in South Minneapolis.
"I will be a voice for Minneapolis' forgotten," Schiff said. "For those who feel ignored."
The kickoff event was held at the Harriet Brewing tap room just off Lake Street in a nod to Schiff's work on an ordinance allowing brewers to sell jugs of their beer on site. Schiff used the opportunity to highlight other consumer-oriented issues he has championed, such as regulating pedicabs and forcing taxicabs to take credit cards.
"My goal has been to cut regulations that don't make sense, to make life easier for everyone," said Schiff, who represents neighborhoods surrounding the intersection of Lake Street and Hiawatha Ave. Several local business owners were in the crowd, as well as members of the firefighters union.
An 11-year member of the Council, Schiff said he wants new goals to encourage contractors on city projects to hire Minneapolis residents, as well as a comprehensive plan to tackling poverty.
Schiff's official entrance follows months of speculation that he would throw his hat in the ring. He is the second council member pursuing Mayor R.T. Rybak's soon-to-be-vacated seat, following Betsy Hodges, but will soon be one of three. Council Member Don Samuels will kickoff his campaign at an event on Wednesday night.
The 2013 election will be the city's biggest test yet of ranked choice voting, which eliminates a primary by allowing voters to list their second and third preferences on the ballot. Schiff said that will make the DFL endorsement much more important, while also changing the tenor of the race.
“I think the nature of instant runoff voting is going to reduce the negativity in this campaign," Schiff said. "And I think people are going to run on their vision and their ideas for the city.”