MINNEAPOLIS -- Former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew considers transit and other environmentally green projects as strategic investments in a larger and more sustainable city.
"I actually want the population of our city to increase by 100,000 over the next 20 years, and smart, responsible economic policies will accomplish that," Andrew told KARE.
Andrew is among the leaders in a field of 35 candidates running for mayor of Minneapolis. He said he'd like to build on the successes of Mayor RT Rybak, who decided not to seek a fourth term.
"I owe everything to the city and I want to help make a great city even greater," Andrew, a Minneapolis native and lifelong resident, remarked.
This campaign remarks a return to politics for Andrew, who served on the Hennepin County Board form 1983 to 1999 and also chaired the Minnesota DFL party from 1995 to 1997.
He counts the Midtown Greenway biking and hiking trail among his top accomplishments while a member of the county board.
"We spent $20 million building it, but today there's $1 billion dollars of economic development directly attributed to the Midtown Greenway."
Andrew would like to make a similar investment in solar energy on public buildings throughout the city, if he's elected mayor. He said he doesn't see it as an either/or situation, a choice between energy saving amenities and core city functions.
"Our proposal to put solar on city school and park buildings is going to save millions of dollars of tax money. The taxpayers will not pay long-term freight on that."
That philosophy is consistent with how Andrew spent his years after leaving the county board. He started a environmental marketing and consulting company known as GreenMark.
The firm brought together the Minnesota Twins and Pentair, a Minneapolis water filtration company, on a project to recycle rain water inside Target Field.
"They capture 2 million gallons of rain water, and repurpose it and use it to irrigate the field and wash down the building. It's a huge environmental program."
Hot button issues
Andrew said he'd work for more transparency in the Minneapolis police department, to give residents of the city assurances of accountability.
"Most of the cops are honorable, hard working people," he said.
"But the ones who are abusing their authority need to be rooted out. We need to have reforms and the public needs to see what those changes are."
He said the Minneapolis Board of Education should retain autonomous control over the public schools, but that the mayor can bring together allies -- private companies and foundations -- to help the district overcome its challenges with the achievement gap.
"We all want safer schools, tighter relationships between the schools and neighborhoods, more early childhood education, more after-school programs; these are things a mayor can do."
And while Andrew wasn't happy with the Vikings stadium deal, he said he's hoping Minneapolis can also use it to generate private investment in surrounding areas.
"It's here and it's irrevocable," he said.
"And so what we need to do now is harness that project, and make sure we truly grow the 5,000 to 7,000 new jobs."
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