Most Minneapolis mayoral candidates are scrambling for delegates’ support in advance of next month’s DFL precinct caucuses.
But Cam Winton is not even trying to win party backing: The Republican running as an independent proudly notes that he’s not part of any political system, unlike his five DFL opponents who are current or former government officials.
“I am the only fresh set of eyes in this race,” said Winton, a 34-year-old attorney for a wind energy company.
The Fulton neighborhood resident kicked off his campaign this month, joining Council Members Don Samuels, Betsy Hodges and Gary Schiff, former Council President Jackie Cherryhomes and former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew in the first mayoral race without an incumbent since 1993.
Winton said his main priority as mayor would be “to deliver essential services effectively” by adequately staffing the city’s police and fire departments and regularly repaving crumbling roads.
To free up more money, he proposes that Minneapolis and Hennepin County merge their human resources, information technology, procurement and finance functions, then offer voluntary severance packages to those employees and stop replacing workers who retire. Winton would then take the savings to hire an extra 125 police officers, who, among other issues, could improve low arrest rates for property crimes.
Other ways of cutting the budget could include replacing traditional software licenses with Google Apps and not adding any more bike lanes, he said.
Winton also wants City Hall to get out of the real estate business. He would quit approving tax increment financing for developers and stop buying vacant properties on the North Side and reselling them to private buyers.
Giving tax deals to developers is “just ripe for corruption, or the appearance of it,” he said.
And Winton said he would have voted against last year’s funding package for a new Vikings stadium, which is being partly supported with $309 million in city sales taxes.
Still, he wants to make the regulatory process friendlier for those wishing to start a business.
Improving education is high on Winton’s agenda. He wants to gain the authority to appoint four board members to the Minneapolis school board and work to link teacher pay to performance.
He won’t be sharing his ideas, however, at the first mayoral debate Wednesday at noon at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The event was organized for DFL candidates to prepare citizens for the caucuses. But, Winton said, he’ll be in the audience.
“I’m the only one in the race saying these things because I’m the only candidate in the race not coming from any power structure,” he said.
Maya Rao • 612-673-4210