By Malissa Rogers
A Minnesota Council member made his campaign official on Tuesday, after telling a crowded room of supporters in South Minneapolis that he would, in fact, be running for mayor. If Gary Schiff is elected to office, he will make history, becoming the city’s first openly gay mayor.
"I will be a voice for Minneapolis' forgotten, for those who feel ignored,” Schiff said, according to the Star Tribune.
The start of his campaign was held at the Harriet Brewing tap room, a business that Schiff had helped through city ordinances that allow brewers to sell jugs of their beer on site. Schiff’s speech highlighted other consumer-oriented issues that he has helped pass including 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 the surrounding neighborhoods. According to the Star Tribune, the crowd included local business owners, 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 announcement comes after speculation swirled throughout the city; some said he would make a bid for mayor, while others believed that he wouldn’t run at all. He is the third council member pursuing Mayor R.T. Rybak's soon-to-be-vacated seat, following Betsy Hodges. Schiff announced his run for mayor only one day before Council Member Don Samuels, who announced his campaign at an event on Wednesday night.
The city previously implemented ranked choice voting, which eliminates a primary by allowing voters to list their second or third choices on the ballot and the 2013 election will be one of the biggest elections to test out their new voting procedures.
“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.”
The 40-year-old Schiff, who had already raised $20,000 for his campaign, grew up in Youngstown, N.Y. and attended the University of Minnesota. Prior to his election to the Council, he worked as an activist with the Human Rights Campaign and Progressive Minnesota.