Raymond Dehn For Mayor
Thank you for taking time to learn about my life and values.
I am a proud fourth-generation Northsider who currently lives in the Jordan neighborhood. When I think about where I came from, the fact that I’m now in a position to run for Mayor of Minneapolis is deeply humbling and gratifying.
I am grateful for the opportunity to earn your trust and your vote, and I hope to have a conversation with you at your door, over the phone, at a coffee shop or brewery, or at one of the many community events that we will hold this year.
I became the person I am today as a result of my family, friends, and a supportive community.
Born and raised in Brooklyn Park, in a white, working-class neighborhood, my family and I had little opportunity. I lived with my parents and three siblings in a 2-bedroom, 630-square-foot home.
We regularly ran out of money before the end of the month, and sometimes were unable to make ends meet. I remember eating pancakes for dinner and thinking it was a treat. In reality, it was what we could afford.
Our family didn’t have much, but we had each other.
My father, a member of the local Teamsters Union, supported us by operating a forklift in a warehouse and plowing snow for extra money in the winter. My mother worked part-time for a paper company in the warehouse district that made toilet paper wraps for American soldiers stationed in Vietnam. All of us kids had paper routes.
GETTING A SECOND CHANCE
I made some bad decisions as a young man, but I was blessed with a second chance that far too many people - especially people of color - do not receive.
I started drinking and taking drugs during my teen years. I did OK in school, both as a student and as a member of the wrestling team. Even though I was using drugs and smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, I was still a good athlete.
The bad choices eventually caught up with me. I started using cocaine and needed more money to support my habit. In 1976, I was arrested and convicted of burglary, setting me on the course for a far better life - one filled with meaning and purpose.
After serving seven months of my sentence at the Hennepin County workhouse, I was released to a drug treatment program at Hennepin County Medical Center. After that, I lived in a halfway house in Wayzata, where I developed strong bonds and relationships with people who helped me stay sober.
I applied for a full pardon from the State of Minnesota in 1982, due to the fact that I wanted to vote again. That year, I received my pardon, and was able to live as if I had never committed the offense - an opportunity that I have used ever since to do right by my community and those around me.
GETTING INVOLVED IN MY COMMUNITY
I graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1993 with a degree in architecture. I am still repaying my student loans to this very day.
While in college, I was elected national president of the American Institute of Architecture Students. I lived in Washington, D.C. for 16 months and traveled the country to advocate for 35,000 architecture students in the U.S. and Canada. This experience opened my eyes to exciting ways to make a positive difference in people’s lives using the power of grassroots organizing.
Later in life, I moved to the Northside, bought a house with my then-partner, and got involved in my community as a member of the neighborhood board. I watched the home foreclosure crisis develop right in front of my own two eyes, not by reading a newspaper or watching cable news talk shows.
Brokers specifically targeted vulnerable Northside families and sold them sub-prime mortgages and refinancing that they could not afford. This was wrong, and I decided to do something about it.
I became involved with a group called Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition. I walked many blocks, knocked many doors, and had many face-to-face conversations to connect my neighbors with assistance if they fell behind on their monthly payments. I also began getting involved in electoral politics, volunteering for the late Senator Paul Wellstone, and later with then-state representative Keith Ellison.
Like millions of Americans, I was laid off during the Great Recession. As I looked for work, I began to immerse myself in my community more and more, working on challenges such as home foreclosure prevention, criminal justice reform, and establishing equitable access to public transportation.
This involvement in my community set me on the path toward running for - and being elected to - my current role as state representative in 2012. It is a privilege to work at our State Capitol representing the wonderful people of District 59B, which includes the Northside, Bryn Mawr, North Loop, and downtown Minneapolis.
ENACTING A PROGRESSIVE AGENDA AT THE LEGISLATURE
My first term in public office came at a time when voters overwhelmingly decided that Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidates had the best ideas to improve people’s lives (we still do!).
I had the opportunity to work with Governor Dayton and DFL majorities in both the Minnesota House and Senate, building many strong relationships along the way. We enacted a progressive agenda that turned this state around, from when Republicans played tricks and games that shattered fiscal responsibility and put the lives of our state’s poorest residents in peril.
As a State Representative, I have accomplished a lot with the help of my amazing neighbors and a lot of compassionate, hardworking people.
A few highlights include raising the minimum wage, expanding access to health care, establishing tax credits to purchase health insurance, enacting meaningful (and bipartisan) criminal justice reform - such as Ban the Box and reforming drug sentencing guidelines, investing in children of all ages, helping homeowners avoid foreclosure, providing significant funding for affordable housing, increasing mandatory parental leave from six weeks to twelve weeks, providing new workplace protections for working and expecting mothers, and making sure every Minnesotan can marry the person they love.
I am especially proud to have played a leading role in the reconstruction of Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. It would not have been possible without the $21.5 million in state bonds that I secured at the legislature with the help of strong partners at the local level and in the private sector. This project is a major step toward growing our city and attracting a talented workforce in the downtown core.
I don’t drink, but I understand the significant economic value that local craft beer brings to our city’s economy. That’s why I wrote the growler bill that allowed small beer breweries to increase their production from 5,000 barrels to 25,000 barrels without losing the ability to operate their taprooms. Taprooms have flourished since my bill was signed into law.
I was also a major force behind the Sunday growler sale bill that allowed taprooms to sell growlers on Sunday. Cheers!
RUNNING FOR MAYOR OF MINNEAPOLIS
In late 2016, after a lot of thoughtful consideration and many conversations with close friends, colleagues, and neighbors, I decided that the best way to continue serving my community would be to run for mayor.
As an architect, I can think strategically about how our economy, schools, justice system, infrastructure, and public spaces impact both current and future generations. As a 2-term state representative, I can leverage my strong relationships with Governor Dayton and legislators from both sides of the aisle to sustain and strengthen the invaluable partnership between our city and state.
We can do better than working from crisis to crisis.
As your mayor, my goal will be to build a city that works for everyone. To do so, I am making you a simple promise: to proactively engage people of all colors, faiths, incomes and backgrounds – in times of high spirits, in times of frustration, and in times of sorrow. You deserve a leader who listens, who stands alongside you, and who looks you in the eye when it’s not easy or comfortable to do so.
This is the mayor I will be for you. You deserve no less.