'Pothole Confidential': R.T. Rybak's memoirs from the mayor's office

'Pothole Confidential' by R.T. Rybak
'Pothole Confidential' by R.T. Rybak
Courtesy of publisher

At 18, R.T. Rybak had a plan: "Be a reporter for the Star Tribune ... and then become mayor of Minneapolis."

And he pulled it off. After college, he covered crime for the paper, and later mounted three successful campaigns for the mayor's office. He finished his final term in the first days of 2014. He now works with Generation Next, an organization focused on addressing the achievement gap.

Rybak writes about his journey to the mayor's office and his time leading the city in his new memoir, "Pothole Confidential." He joined MPR News host Tom Weber to talk the work he feels still needs to be done.

When asked if this memoir was a stepping stone to any future political positions, Rybak laughed.

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"I wrote this book because I wanted to write a super honest look — warts and all, including my own warts," he said. "If I was doing this as a vanity project, as a catapult for office, I did a very bad job, because I don't look perfect in this at all."


On his childhood

"I had this kind of super hyper personality, and I had all these interests, but I did very, very poorly [in school]. ... I was disconnected, I was disruptive, but people cut me more and more slack.

"I recognize that if you changed one factor about me, as a kid growing up, if you would have changed the color of my skin, I would probably not be where I am today, which is a pretty searing reality," Rybak said. "But think about it: teenage boy, disruptive, disconnected, not doing well in school — that's a story that's written very differently across racial lines. I have to come to terms with it.

"The good news was, I went to college and became a very good student. I've tried to especially stand up for kids like that in the work that I do now."

On finding a work-life balance

"No one writes about men with careers balancing family," Rybak said. As the father of two, he worried about being able to find time for family when he took on a political career.

"I think men should talk about balancing family and careers. As hard as I work, there's no question that my family was always first. We would have dinner together, even at the busiest times as mayor, most nights."

"My life was more work than family at the height of my work as mayor — in time, but not in intensity or focus."

For the full discussion with R.T. Rybak about the Vikings stadium, the Jamar Clark case, and the moment he knew he wouldn't run for a fourth term, use the audio player above.

If you go: "Pothole Confidential" book launch party

When: 7 p.m., April 13, 2016

Where: First Avenue, 701 N 1st Ave., Minneapolis

More details: Online