R. T. Rybak

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R. T. Rybak
RTRybak.JPG
Rybak in 2009
46th Mayor of Minneapolis
In office
January 1, 2002 – January 2, 2014
Preceded by Sharon Sayles Belton
Succeeded by Betsy Hodges
Personal details
Born Raymond Thomas Rybak, Jr.
(1955-11-12) November 12, 1955 (age 58)
Political party Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Alma mater Boston College

Raymond Thomas "R. T." Rybak, Jr. (born November 12, 1955) is an American politician, journalist, businessperson, and activist who served as the 46th mayor of Minneapolis. In the 2001 election Rybak defeated incumbent Sharon Sayles Belton by a margin of 65% to 35%; the widest margin in city history for a challenge to an incumbent.[1] He took office in January 2002, and won a second term in November 2005 and a third in November 2009. In late December, 2012, he announced he would not run for another term and was going to be concentrating on his family. Rybak called being mayor his "dream job."

Before being elected mayor Rybak worked in journalism, business and activism. The first mayor of a large U.S. city to endorse Barack Obama's 2008 campaign for President, Rybak is one of five Vice Chairs of the Democratic National Committee.[2]

Background[edit]

Rybak grew up in Minneapolis, the son of Lorraine Ann (née Palmer) and Raymond Thomas Rybak, a pharmacist.[3] He is of part Czech descent.[4][5] He graduated from Breck School in 1974 and from Boston College in 1978. In the 1970s and '80s he worked as a journalist for the Minneapolis Tribune, then went on to run the Twin Cities Reader, where he also launched Q Monthly, a local gay and lesbian newspaper. For a few years, he headed Internet Broadcasting Systems, which started as an online division of Minneapolis television station WCCO and runs websites for many stations across the United States. Following his job there, Rybak did consulting work as an Internet strategist, and assisted some projects with Minnesota Public Radio and Public Radio International.

R. T. Rybak

During this time, Rybak also worked as a community and political activist. In 1994, he was campaign manager for Tony Bouza, the former Minneapolis chief of police who unsuccessfully sought the DFL nomination for Governor of Minnesota. Rybak was an early member of the group ROAR ("Residents Opposed to Airport Racket"), which campaigned for noise mitigation projects in neighborhoods around the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport. The group staged a memorable "pajama protest," where area residents wore their nighttime clothes at the airport to show that they were losing sleep because of airplane noise.

Rybak also serves on the Board of Directors of Nice Ride Minnesota, a public bicycle sharing program.[6]

He began a career in journalism, working at the Minneapolis Tribune (later the Star Tribune) in the late 1970s and 1980s, before going on to edit the Twin Cities Reader. He also acted as Development Director for Minneapolis's Downtown Council.[7]

Mayoralty[edit]

Rybak crowd surfing in a Minneapolis parade

In 2001 Rybak (57,739 votes for 64.69%) defeated incumbent Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton (30,896 votes for 34.61%), the first African-American and first female mayor of the city.[8] Rybak's mayoralty has dealt mostly with lowering crime, creating jobs, building affordable housing, and balancing the City's budget. He attends public events in the city on a regular basis and participates directly in discussions of city issues on his Facebook page. He is one of probably a very small number of mayors to have ever crowd-surfed, diving from the stage during a "Rock for Democracy" event at the popular Minneapolis club First Avenue in July 2004.[9][10]

In 2002, Rybak developed the City of Lakes Loppet, a 35-kilometer urban cross-country ski race through Theodore Wirth Park and across Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun which ends on the streets of the Uptown Minneapolis. The event attracts nearly 2000 skiers. Rybak, a skier himself, has participated in races.

Rybak has made many public appearances at rallies and protests. In April 2004 he spoke to a rally of striking Metro Transit workers at the Hennepin County Government Center plaza.[11] Like many Twin Cities politicians, he marches in the annual Twin Cities Pride Parade.

In his 2005 re-election campaign he defeated challenger (and fellow DFLer) Peter McLaughlin by nearly 25 percentage points,[12] 61.47% to 36.72% (43,198 votes for Rybak and 25,807 votes for McLaughlin[13]), and performed another crowd-surf.[14]

Rybak at the site of the bridge collapse

In August 2007, after the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge, Rybak asked Governor Tim Pawlenty and Minnesota state officials to implement its replacement, ensuring that the new bridge would be capable of handling mass transit.[15] Rybak pushed that future needs and policy considerations shouldn't be ignored in the rush to build a replacement.[16] His leadership resulted in a bridge plan which included improvements to carry a future light rail line.[citation needed] Rybak was quoted as saying "we (the City) have a vision that we believe will be for a bridge that will serve us for many years to come."[17] His role also involved authorizing municipal consent of the final bridge replacement.[18]

He was listed as a finalist for the 2008 World Mayor award.[19]

In June 2008 Rybak was elected Vice President for Communications of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors.[20]

According to DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rybak was the first mayor of a large U.S. city to endorse the presidential campaign of Illinois Senator Barack Obama in 2007.[21] Rybak campaigned on Obama's behalf and was active in the youth wing of the campaign.

In January 2009, Rybak announced his intention to run for re-election as Mayor in the 2009 Minneapolis City Council elections.[22]

In March 2009, Rybak proposed eliminating the Minneapolis Civil Rights Investigations Division, which investigates discriminatory practices and was established in 1967 as part of the city's Civil Rights Department.[23] The move was met by opposition from the community with both the DFL African American Caucus and the Minneapolis Urban League speaking out against the plan.[23][24] During his tenure as mayor, Rybak has gone through six civil rights directors and has decreased the number of workers in the department.[24][25]

On November 3, 2009, Rybak was elected to a third term as mayor, winning more than 73.6% of the first-place votes.[26]

Rybak is an avid user of social media,[27] often using it to alert followers to vital city information, and is credited as the first mayor in the United States to use Twitter.[28]

Rybak chose not to run for a fourth term as mayor, and his third term ended on January 2, 2014, when Betsy Hodges was sworn in as the city's new mayor. After leaving office, Rybak will work with Generation Next to help close the achievement gap for minority students. [29]

2010 gubernatorial campaign[edit]

Rybak ending his campaign for governor of Minnesota

On November 5, 2009, Rybak filed paperwork creating a campaign for governor of Minnesota. A month later, he officially announced his candidacy at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis.[30] Rybak won the straw poll on February 2, 2010, at Minnesota's precinct caucus events statewide.

On April 24, 2010, Rybak withdrew his name from consideration for the DFL nomination at the convention after six ballots. Rybak endorsed Margaret Anderson Kelliher, and called on Democrats remaining in the race to withdraw and support her. Former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton subsequently won the Democratic nomination and the general election that year.

Personal life[edit]

Rybak lives in the city's East Harriet neighborhood with his wife, Megan, and their children, Charlie and Grace.[31]

Rybak sent his children to Breck School, an Episcopal private school he also attended. His mother had been given a job there during a difficult period in his childhood. Rybak was awarded the "Distinguished Alumnus" award from Breck in 2002.

On January 4, 2014, the former mayor was cross country skiing when he started experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath. He was hospitalized and had an angioplasty and stents after it was determined he had a heart attack. Heart problems run in his family.[32]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Election Results Archive". Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  2. ^ Smith, Ben (2011-09-07). "Minneapolis Mayor gets DNC post". Politico. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  3. ^ http://www.appletree.com/people/name/Raymond_Rybak
  4. ^ http://www.minnesotabrown.com/2009/12/rt-rybak-minnesotabrown-interview.html
  5. ^ http://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2009/12/dissecting-rybak-what-has-he-accomplished-mayor
  6. ^ "About". Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  7. ^ "U.S. Mayors profile on Rybak". Citymayors.com. 2009-11-08. Retrieved April 11, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Election Results 2001". Ci.minneapolis.mn.us. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  9. ^ Scholtes, Peter (2004-12-15). "Local Music Yearbook '04". City Pages. Retrieved 2007-08-07. 
  10. ^ David (July 18, 2004). "Mayor RT Rybak Stage Dives and Crowd Surfs at First Avenue during Rock for Democracy". HowWasTheShow Blog. Retrieved April 11, 2012. 
  11. ^ Anderson, G.R. (2004-04-07). "Does This Bus Stop at the Capitol?". City Pages. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  12. ^ Scheck, Tom (2005-11-09). "Rybak cruises to victory in Minneapolis". Minneapolis Public Radio. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^ Aaron Landry » R.T. Rybak at the Ukrainian Event Center[dead link]
  15. ^ Brown, Curt; Rochelle Olson and Laurie Blake (2007-08-14). "Monday: Feud forming over function of new bridge". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2008-04-12. 
  16. ^ Scheck, Tom (2007-08-05). "I-35W bridge reconstruction could delay other projects". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 2007-08-07. 
  17. ^ Foti, Jim (2007-08-21). "State's plans for new I-35W bridge include light rail". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  18. ^ Thomas, Dylan (2007-08-22). "Pawlenty plan for bridge includes LRT". Downtown Journal. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  19. ^ "The 2008 long-list".  Retrieved on January 19, 2009.
  20. ^ "Mayor Rybak to serve as mayors’ key messenger in 2008 election".  Retrieved on January 19, 2009.
  21. ^ Scheck, Tom (September 7, 2011). "Rybak selected to be DNC Vice Chair". Minnesota Public Radio. 
  22. ^ By Joe Kimball (Tue, Jan 13 2009 1:07 pm). "Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak puts re-election announcement on web". Minnpost.com. Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  23. ^ a b Hughes, Art (March 2, 2009). "Rybak proposal to kill Minneapolis' civil rights office draws fire". MinnPost. 
  24. ^ a b Brandt, Steve (February 3, 2010). "Rybak declines to reappoint rights director". Star Tribune. 
  25. ^ Mannix, Andy (February 3, 2010). "Rybak not backing civil rights director for reappointment". City Pages. 
  26. ^ [2][dead link]
  27. ^ Miller, Luke (February 7, 2012). "Digital door-knocking: Politicians use social media to engage their constituents.". Minnesota Daily. 
  28. ^ https://twitter.com/#!/MayorRTRybak
  29. ^ http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/238725351.html
  30. ^ "Rybak Kicks Campaign into Full Swing". MN Progressive Project. Retrieved 2009-12-07. 
  31. ^ Stevens, Andrew (November 8, 2009). "Minneapolis Mayor R T Rybak Jr: An early opponent of the Iraq war". City Mayors. Retrieved April 11, 2012. 
  32. ^ http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/238725351.html

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Sharon Sayles Belton
Mayor of Minneapolis
2002 – 2014
Succeeded by
Betsy Hodges