It's almost the end of an era in Minneapolis, but outgoing Mayor RT Rybak broke some news on Fox 9 News when discussing what's next -- he's interested in running for governor.
"I'm definitely not done with political work," Rybak assured. "Right now, I want to focus on getting kids into school. You know, the only other thing I'd be interested in running for is governor someday, but that's a few years down the line at best."
In an interview, one of the most popular mayors in Minneapolis history discussed his plans to become the executive director of Generation Next, an organization that seeks to close the achievement gap between white and minority students.
"This is a crisis. It's not just a problem we should talk about," Rybak insisted. "As I said yesterday, when the bridge collapsed, we didn't talk about it for two years. We jumped in the water, saved people's lives, got that bridge rebuilt. We've got to bring that same urgency to this."
In looking for tangible results, Rybak said he plans to focus on ensuring that children can read -- and be literate -- by third grade, master math skills by fifth grade, and get involved in programs like STEP UP to prepare for college. Additionally, family support modeled after the Northside Achievement Zone will be explored to get all kids in environments that are education-ready.
Rybak's foray into education won't end there either. He also plans to teach a weekly class at the University of Minnesota called "Mayor 101." Through the Humphrey School, he will explore the political, administrative, and bureaucratic challenges of running one of the largest and most dynamic cities in the United States.
"Mayor 101 is a class I wish I would have taken 12 years ago," Rybak quipped. "It's, hopefully, going to be me talking about some of the lessons I learned here and then, the second semester, I'm going to be teaching something called '5 Great Places' with the college of design and the Humphrey School."
The second course will focus on 5 places across the state and bring architecture and political students together to go out and propose some ideas to improve those communities.
When he leaves the mayor's office -- something he admits will be hard to do, it'll be the first time in more than a decade that he'll be working elsewhere.
"I think they're going to have to send armed guards in to pull me out, 'cause it's a place that I've loved," Rybak said. "I think I have an incredibly exciting venture afterwards, but between now and the end of the year, there is so much to do."
Among the items on Rybak's to-do list:
- Land the Vikings stadium
- Finalize Target Center renovations
- Redo Nicollet Mall
- Finish a budget to lower property taxes
"There's a lot of big stuff. It would be kind of nice if I was sitting around by a fireplace, smoking a pipe and wistfully musing about the future, but I'm working my butt off right now," Rybak said with a laugh.
When it comes to what Rybak will miss the most when he moves on, the mayor responded that one thing he will certainly miss is being a salesperson for city. Recently, he took his pitch on the road to urge residents in states where same-sex marriage is not legal to urge couples to marry in Minneapolis.
Although Rybak told Fox 9 News his political ambitions are limited to the state level, he has also made quite a name for himself on a national stage as vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He has also spoken with many cable news outlets in defense of Democratic policy.
"I'm really going to take the lessons I've learned in politics and go out and try to make some things happen," Rybak pledged. "If at some point, I get back into politics, great. If [I don't], my life isn't less fulfilled. I know there are a lot of really good places to move the dial."