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Minneapolis Mayoral Hopefuls: Don Samuels

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER
  • Updated: October 8, 2013 - 1:37 PM

Big ideas: Focusing primarily on education and public safety. Wants to connect personally with parents and impose better academic benchmarks. On crime, would develop relationships with the handful of families causing a disproportate amount of violence on the North Side, and try to steer them from illlegal activity.

Big accomplishment: Initiated “ban the box,” so applicants for many City Hall jobs do not have to check a box answering whether they are a felon. Instead, the city now waits to ask that question until after a person has been selected for the job.

Weakness/baggage: Several blunt statements on crime and education have made waves in the black community that dominates his North Side ward. Despite being the only black candidate in the race, he did not win the endorsement of the DFL African-American caucus.

Personal: Emigrated from Jamaica in the 1970s. Married to Sondra Samuels, CEO of a major non-profit focused on closing the racial acheivement gap. They live in the Jordan neighborhood with two children.

Supporters that matter: Former Police Chief Tim Dolan

Stadium position: An early supporter of the stadium who praised the project for the jobs it would provide, particularly for unemployed blacks. Promoted benchmarks of 32 percent minority participation in the stadium’s construction.

Quotable moment: On public safety, “This is America! Where you are supposed to have the right to liberty, to life, and the pursuit of happiness. And it’s supposed to flow like a river.”

Ideas for growing jobs and population: Build dense housing along corridors embedded with tracks so residents are connected to jobs via permanent transit. Wants to be a more vocal salesman advertising the city to lure more people and jobs. Will try to close acheivement gap in education.

Targets for spending cuts: Said city spending already has been “cut to the bone,” but that he would tweak fire department policies to more efficiently respond to medical calls requiring an ambulance.

 Written by Eric Roper, photography by Jeff Wheeler

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    • Don Samuels
      at a glance

    • Age: 64
    • Occupation + experience: An ordained minister, Samuels designed toys for Playskool and other companies before winning election to the City Council in 2003.
    • Website
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