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Biography

R.T. Rybak was elected Mayor of Minneapolis in November of 2001 in his first run for public office with 65 percent of the vote. Since he took office in January of 2002, Mayor Rybak has streamlined the City's development functions, created a $10 million housing trust fund, strengthened the City's Code of Ethics, and closed a $50 million gap in City funding by delivering four budgets in less than two years. Minneapolis now leads the state in affordable housing production, job creation and the arts.

Mayor Rybak made development reform one of his first priorities when he took office. In January, 2002, Rybak brought in McKinsey and Company to conduct a pro-bono analysis of the planning and development functions of the city. Many of the reforms that were eventually passed were recommended in this study. The Mayor and City Council have set clear priorities by focusing the City's scarce development resources on housing and job creation. The Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED), which started to take shape in early 2003, integrated the City's planning and development functions.

Under the Rybak administration Minneapolis' comprehensive housing strategy has become a model for the nation. Rybak's tactics include: aggressively increasing affordable housing funding, eliminating duplicative licensing and examining boards, expediting repair and reducing condemnations of rental housing, getting public property on the market more quickly, changing the Zoning Code to encourage the development of affordable housing, allowing the sale of smaller lots for more dense housing, and limiting required repairs to life-safety repairs. Since Mayor Rybak took office in June of 2002, the City has completed or has under construction over 2000 affordable housing units (out of a total of over 4000 new homes). The U.S. Conference of Mayors tapped Mayor Rybak to lead the Conference's subcommittee on Rental Housing. Mayor Rybak was the keynote speaker at Fannie Mae's national conference on minority homeownership in 2002 and for Washington state's annual housing conference in 2003.

Rybak has overhauled the budget process and has delivered a record four budgets in less than two years. Under the Mayor's leadership, the Council passed its first-ever five-year financial direction, based on a 10-year budget projection. The Mayor and Council have established budget principles; placed the City, Parks and the Library on the same diet; and have capped taxes before making spending decisions. In addition, the Mayor has presented the City budget months earlier than in the past.

In early 2003, under the threat of massive state aid cuts, Mayor Rybak crafted a budget that maintained basic City services, eliminated ten percent of the City's workforce and established a ceiling of two percent for annual wage increases for City employees. National bond houses have expressed confidence in the financial direction of the City.

Mayor Rybak spearheaded ethics reform for the City. Rybak assembled an Ethics Task Force, which examined the City's previous code and the best practices in ethics law from across the country. The new code unanimously passed the Council in early 2003 and included new policies on conflicts of interest, financial disclosure, nepotism and ethics enforcement mechanisms.

Mayor Rybak is a strong local arts advocate. Rybak helped create and launch Minneapolis MOSAIC, a two-month celebration honoring the diversity and rich cultural heritage of the City through the arts. The 2003 MOSAIC featured over 100 events presented by Minneapolis arts and cultural groups Minneapolis MOSAIC promises to be bigger and better in 2004.

Rybak is an active promoter of Minneapolis as the "active sports capital" of the nation. With 22 lakes, 43 miles of bike paths and a park within 6 blocks of every resident, Minneapolitans take advantage of every season by spending time working and playing outdoors. Minneapolis also boasts the most bicycle commuters in the nation. The City plays host to the Twin Cities Marathon, the Great River Energy Bike Race, the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon and the City of Lakes Loppet. The Loppet (named for the Swedish word for ski race), the brainchild of Rybak, is the only urban cross-country ski race in North America. Rybak has competed in the triathlon and the Loppet each year he has been in office.

Rybak has a broad background in business, journalism and community activism. Prior to being elected Mayor, Rybak was a business consultant and served as publisher of the Twin Cities Reader, where he also launched Q Monthly, a local gay and lesbian newspaper. As development director of the Downtown Council, Rybak worked to retain and small businesses and helped bring the Farmer's Market to Nicollet Mall. Rybak covered city issues, including crime, housing and city development, for the Minneapolis Tribune in the late 1970s and early `80s.

Rybak has been a community leader, as a founder of ROAR (Residents Opposed to Airport Racket), a citizens group fighting airport noise pollution and as a volunteer for a multitude of community organizations.

Mayor Rybak is a lifelong Minneapolis resident and the son of a druggist in the Phillips neighborhood. Rybak currently lives in the East Harriet neighborhood of Minneapolis with his wife, Megan, and their two children

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