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Don Samuels

Don Samuels

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Published by Sarah McKenzie
Profile on Mpls mayoral candidate Don Samuels.
Profile on Mpls mayoral candidate Don Samuels.

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Published by: Sarah McKenzie on Aug 29, 2013
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07/04/2014

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By Mcll Buc
Fifth Ward City CouncilMember Don Samuelsdoesn’t scare easily.When he arrived inNorth Minneapolis’ Jordanneighborhood in 1998, hesaid his street includedtwo prostitution houses,three drug-sellers and lotsof “slum” properties.To deal with onechaotic party houseon the street, Samuelsand 15 other neighborsknocked on the frontdoor. To deal with a West Broadway businessallegedly allowing drugactivity, Samuels pick-eted the owner’s home inMedicine Lake, leavingfliers at neighboringdoorsteps and picketsigns on the lawn.In an October Star Tribune editorial,Samuels said he pulledover his car to chastisea young man urinatingon West Broadway, onlyto be threatened and
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have his iPhone stolen.In response, Samuelsworked with police toimmediately track downthe suspect and gave hima lecture and a hug.“My wife and I movedinto North Minneapolisto make a difference. Wecould live in Linden Hills.It was a deliberate move,with an intent to be verydeliberately intrusive,”Samuels said. “One thingthat I’ve learned over the course of my life, if  you’re willing to walkinto the most dangerous,most unacceptable situ-ation, that you automati-cally become a powerful person. You can takethe prerogative of your nation’s expectations and your expectations as a human being with you, andthat is power. You have theright on your side.”
Top priorities
If Samuels becamemayor, he said his biggest priority would involveclosing regional gaps inacademics, income andemployment.“Being the councilmember I am from thearea that I am, I wouldNo. 1 be carrying thoseburdens in my heart,”Samuels said. “We havealready made a lot of  promises. One of the chal-lenges is how we stay thecourse on them.”The theme of balancinginequality crops up in manyof Samuels’ positions oncity issues. On potentialstreetcar and light rail proj-ects, he wants equitablehiring and equal accessto new infrastructure. Onbike infrastructure, he saidhe wants every neighbor-hood to have a share in cityamenities and receive extra eyes on the street. On the Vikings stadium, he wantedthe city to take an earlyseat at the table and dictateterms that the projectshould reach 32 percentminority participation.Large, dense develop-ment projects should beconcentrated in the city’stransit corridors, Samuelssaid, but the details shouldalways be negotiated withthe neighborhood. As for property taxes,Samuels said increasesshould naturally end asthe economy improves.Property values will rise,he said, and a more city-friendly state governmentwill end cuts to localgovernment aid.“I don’t foresee anyincrease in taxes atall,” Samuels said. “Andfrankly, anybody thatbecomes mayor is going tobenefit from R.T.’s making very tough decisions andallowing us to have a freeride on that one.” A mayoral priorityfor Samuels would betracking “Results Minne-apolis,” which featuresdata-driven progressreports and five-year business plans designedto meet city goals. He saidhe advocated for that kindof analysis during his firstCity Hall speech in 2003,endorsing Baltimore’sCitiStat program.“I was in business for myself for 15 years andI worked with corporate America for another 15,”Samuels said. “You haveto get the job done, other-wise you don’t have a job.I want to take that kind of approach to government.”
From smallbusiness owner toCity Council member
Samuels immigrated tothe U.S. from Jamaica in 1970 to study indus-trial design. He workedat Playskool as senior director of research &development, and left thecompany to start his ownsmall business designingtoys for major toy manu-facturers. He said hiscreative work experienceaids him today at CityHall. He described a stan-dard example:“There are 30 millionBarbies in America, and you’ve got to come up witha new doll that’s different.Every Barbie has beendone. But they want a new one,” he said. “Yousit there with your blank paper, and suddenly youhave to go the bathroom. And then you come backfrom the bathroom, andsuddenly, you’ve got themunchies. ... There is this
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Don Samuels is one of six mayoral candidates seeking the DFL endorsement.
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Fantastic one bedroom condo located at The Falls! Updatesthroughout. Walking distance to the River, Restaurants, shops,entertainment and grocery store! Amenities galore! You're in charge! Pick all your own fnishes. Only pre-constructionopportunity in all o DT! 5 homes let. Hardwood rs, SS appliances, granitecounters, ceramic tile all included in these unmatched prices DT!
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