Raymond Dehn said Wednesday he will run for mayor of Minneapolis, joining Nekima Levy-Pounds as the field of challengers to Betsy Hodges grows.
“We can do better than working from crisis to crisis,” the DFL state representative said in a statement posted to Facebook. “We must do better in tearing down the country’s largest achievement gaps.”
A legislator who is set to start his third term representing downtown Minneapolis, the North Loop, Bryn Mawr and parts of Near North, Dehn said his goal is “a city that works for everyone,” and he called for significant investment in struggling neighborhoods such as West Broadway in north Minneapolis and pockets of East Phillips.
“I think it’s time that we get serious about investing smart resources to try to transform those neighborhoods,” Dehn said.
He also called for a “deep dive” into environmental contamination in low-income parts of the city.
In an interview Wednesday, he said he supports a $15 minimum wage for most full-time workers.
“Anybody who’s working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks of the year, should be making livable wage in the city of Minneapolis, and that’s $15 an hour,” Dehn said.
Dehn, 59, who grew up in Brooklyn Park, was convicted of felony burglary as a teenager in the 1970s and later pardoned by the governor. He is known for his work on behalf of felons, and believes the city should be more strategic in the way it polices itself.
“Different parts of the city need different types of policing,” said Dehn, who lives in the Jordan neighborhood. “Downtown needs to start having conversations about what happens along First Avenue and other areas on Thursday, Friday, Saturday night at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning when bars close. That’s a very different conversation than someone who lives at 25th and Oliver in north Minneapolis and wants to feel safe in their neighborhood.”
Dehn, an architect by training, said the rising cost of rental housing in Minneapolis is an urgent problem that requires a well-planned, rapid city response, but he is sympathetic to landlords whose taxes are rising because of “unrealized appreciation” in the value of their property.
“The city and the county can look at creative ways of telling landlords that if they have naturally occurring affordable housing, and they can show that, then maybe we hold the line on their property taxes until they decide to sell or make the choice to increase their rent,” he said.
In the face of a Trump administration that may try to reduce federal funding to sanctuary cities that protect those who have immigrated to the United States illegally, Dehn said Minneapolis should be preparing itself. A city cannot be a sanctuary for anyone, he said, if it has no affordable housing.
More candidates emerge
Precinct caucuses will be held April 4 to choose delegates who will decide DFL endorsements at the mayoral convention June 24.
A fourth DFL candidate, Aswar Rahman, is also running for mayor. The Bangladeshi-born, Minneapolis-raised filmmaker and software user experience designer says on his website that he will “end overtaxation in Minneapolis.”
Councilmember Jacob Frey, who is also expected to challenge Hodges, said Wednesday he will make an announcement Jan. 3 about the mayor’s race.