Could Obama’s re-election result in special Minneapolis mayoral election?

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November 7, 2012 by Sarah M

Clarification: Gary Schiff is only exploring a run for mayor. He has not announced that he is running. 

By Nick Halter

The re-election of President Barack Obama has local politicos once again pondering whether or not Mayor R.T. Rybak might take a job in the president’s administration.

Rybak has mostly deflected speculation about the rumors, which started four years ago. He also hasn’t said if he will run for re-election in 2013 or not.

But several local DFLers have speculated to the Southwest Journal that Rybak could be in line for a job with the newly re-elected president, perhaps soon.

Rybak has been one of Obama’s top surrogates, traveling the country in 2012 to campaign for the president. Rybak was also one of the early supporters of Obama’s 2008 campaign.

Mayor Rybak’s spokesman, John Stiles, said in an e-mail that looking ahead “requires an actual offer from the President, and I’m sure the President has other things on his mind right now.”

He continued:

“As far as any decision the Mayor may make goes, whether or not in the context of the honor of considering an offer from the President, the polls closed 16 hours ago and right now, he’s savoring the President’s victory … and what it, the change in control of the legislature and the defeat of the two amendments all mean for Minneapolis. All I do know is that he loves Minneapolis, loves being Mayor and has as much energy and passion for the job as ever.”

If Rybak were offered and accepted a post with Obama, what would that mean for Minneapolis and the would-be-vacant mayor’s office? Look to chapter 2, section 16 of the Minneapolis Charter.

For starters, Barb Johnson, the City Council president, would be sworn in as acting mayor. If Rybak were to vacate the seat before March 1, the city would need to hold a special election. That election would have to take place within 90 days of Rybak’s departure.

An early departure by Rybak could make for a very interesting mayoral election. City Council members, if they run for mayor in a special election, would not have to surrender their City Council seats.

That’s important, because if City Council members want to run for mayor during the regular election of 2013, they can not also run for their council seats.

In other words, an early departure by Rybak could make for a crowded field in a potential early mayoral election.

Already, Gary Schiff (Ward 9) has said he is exploring a run for mayor. No one else has announced publicly, but at least three other names have been mentioned as possible candidates.

In an interview with The Uptake from October, Rybak was asked about the possibility of a job with Obama.

“Anybody who speculates that does know how much I love Minnesota. I am where I am. You know, people said that four years ago. They said that, ‘Gee, R.T. is campaigning for president because he wants to go to Washington, and I didn’t.”

Here’s the part of the city charter dealing with a departing mayor:

Whenever any vacancy shall occur in the office of Mayor or in the office of any Council Member prior to March 1st of the year of the general City election for the office of Mayor or Council Member, it shall be filled for the unexpired term by a special election ordered by the City Council and held City-wide if the vacancy is in the office of the Mayor or held in the applicable ward if the vacancy is in the office of a Council Member. The special election shall be held within ninety (90) days after such vacancy shall occur.

For the purpose of selecting the candidates to be voted on at such special election, the Council shall fix the dates for filing of candidates for such office which shall be for a period of not less than eight (8) days, and the opening and closing dates for such filing shall be consistent with state law governing special elections. All provisions of this Charter pertaining to special elections shall apply to any special election provided for by this section, except as otherwise specifically provided herein.

Until the vacancy in the office of Mayor has been filled by the special election, the then President of the City Council shall take the oath of office of, and become, and shall be styled Acting Mayor for the interim period, and as such shall exercise all the powers and discharge all the duties of Mayor, and while so acting shall be entitled to the salary of Mayor, but such salary shall be in lieu of, and not additional to, the salary as Council Member in [the] event such person shall occupy both offices.

Whenever any vacancy shall occur in the office of Mayor on or after March 1st of the year of the general City election for the office of Mayor, the then President of the City Council shall fill the vacancy for the remainder of the vacated term in the same manner as provided above.

Whenever any vacancy occurs in the office of any Council Member on or after March 1st of the year of the general City election for the office of Council Member, such vacancy shall be filled by the City Council appointing a qualified voter from the ward for which the vacancy exists, to hold office for the remainder of such unexpired term, provided that no such appointment shall be made after the opening date for filing for such position in the next ensuing city general election.

When a vacancy for Council Member exists on or after the first date for filing, the person elected at the general City election, upon certification of the general City election results, shall fill the position for the remainder of the unexpired term. (As amended 6-20-82; 11-4-75; 11-2-76; 83-Or-234, § 2, 9-30-83; 11-8-83; 92-Or-035, § 1, 3-13-92; 95-Or-041, § 1, 3-10-95; Charter Amend. No. 161, § 9, ref. of 11-7-06; 2010-Or-091, § 5, 10-12-10)

Amendment note—Amendment of June 20, 1932, required the president of the council to take the office of acting mayor when a vacancy occurs in the office of mayor and provided for the filling of vacancy in the office of alderman. The amendment of November 4, 1975, provided that vacancies in the office of alderman occurring within the first fourteen (14) months of the alderman’s term of office be filled by special election rather than by appointment. The amendment of November 2, 1976, provided that a vacancy in the office of mayor occurring before March 1st of the year of the city election be filled by a special city-wide election. The amendment of November 8, 1983, changed “Alderman” to “Council Member.” The amendment of November 7, 2006, provided for the elimination of primary elections for city offices, amended filing dates, and allowed for single transferable vote, sometimes known as ranked choice voting or instant runoff voting.

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One thought on “Could Obama’s re-election result in special Minneapolis mayoral election?

  1. Barry says:

    “No one else has announced publicly, but at least three other names have been mentioned as possible candidates.” Who?

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