Mayoral candidate fields grow in Mpls., St. Paul

Rep. Raymond Dehn
File photo of Rep. Raymond Dehn, DFL-Minneapolis, introducing a bill about disaster relief in Hennepin County Tuesday, April 2, 2013.
Jennifer Simonson | MPR 2013

Updated: 3:13 p.m. | Posted: Noon

The mayoral fields in Minnesota's two largest cities are getting bigger.

State Rep. Raymond Dehn, DFL-Minneapolis, announced his run for the top job at City Hall on Facebook Wednesday morning.

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He joins the race against incumbent Betsy Hodges, who announced last week she was running again, and former law school professor and NAACP president Nekima Levy-Pounds. Filmmaker Aswar Rahman is also seeking the DFL endorsement in Minneapolis.

Dehn is one of 15 DFL legislators who represent the city of Minneapolis. His district runs from the north side of the Interstate Hwy. 35W and I-94 commons through downtown and north Minneapolis to the southeast corner of Robbinsdale.

He's an architect by profession and was first elected to the House in 2012, taking Bobby Champion's seat when Champion moved to the Senate.

Dehn has been a regular presence at key city events, including the protests at the 4th Precinct after the fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark last year.

Dehn said he wanted to tackle racial disparities in particular.

"We have some areas of the city that have been neglected for quite some time," Dehn said in an interview. "There's often talk about doing things differently and trying to transform those communities, but I think as a city, we've fallen woefully short of doing that."

The mayor's seat and the entire 13-member City Council will be on the ballot next November. The city's sometimes hotly contested DFL endorsement process starts with precinct caucuses April 4.

In St. Paul, banker and former City Council member Pat Harris has filed formal paperwork to run for mayor.

Harris is a banker and represented the city's Highland Park neighborhood. He served three terms on the City Council before deciding not to run again in 2011.

Harris has already been raising money and seeking support for a run for several weeks. Harris has also been active with the city's Friends of the St. Paul Public Library and the St. Paul Regional Water Services Board. He helped found Serving Our Troops, a volunteer organization that has flown meals for troops from Minnesota to the Middle East, Europe and training camps in the United States.

Harris joins former City Council member Melvin Carter III and former school board member Tom Goldstein among contenders to succeed outgoing Mayor Chris Coleman, who is running for governor. The mayor's race and three school board seats will be on the St. Paul ballot next year.

The St. Paul mayoral race will be the first with an open seat since voters approved ranked choice voting in 2009. The city's DFL endorsement process, a key to past mayoral races, begins April 22, with a city convention June 17.