First debate scheduled in Minneapolis mayoral race

The five leading DFL candidates for Minneapolis mayor have agreed to meet later this month for their first debate.

The event will be held March 27 from noon-1:30 p.m. at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

It will be the first time Mark Andrew, Jackie Cherryhomes, Betsy Hodges, Don Samuels and Gary Schiff appear together as candidates.

While the office of mayor is technically non-partisan, all five are seeking the DFL Party endorsement this summer.

All the participants have lengthy political resumes. Schiff, Hodges and Samuels all sit on the city council. Cherryhomes is a former council member and Andrew, a former county commissioner.

“This debate is meant to really dig into the big issues,” U professor Larry Jacobs said.

Jacobs will serve as moderator and has a team of graduate students helping him to research and devise questions. He designed the event to help inform voters planning to attend DFL precinct caucuses on April 16.

In addition to the five debate participants, the Minneapolis DFL also lists a political unknown named Grant Haas as a candidate. He is not part of the debate.

Neither is Cam Winton, who isn’t seeking any party endorsement. He kicks off his campaign next week.

The crush of candidates was caused by mayor R.T. Rybak’s decision not to seek a fourth term. It’s the first time in 20 years the city has seen an open-seat mayor’s race.