Alice Rainville, 1928-2009

Alice Rainville, who died on Thursday, was the first woman to serve as the Council president in Minneapolis and she loved the north and northwestern neighborhoods of the city.

The news of her passing sent me scurrying to the MPR digital archive in search of past interviews with her. I was not disappointed. I found an interview that MPR’s Dan Olson did with her when she stepped down from the Council after 22 years.

“I had great respect for the taxpayer,” she said in the interview, recorded when she left the Council. “I don’t want any of my dollars spent frivolously and I always would tell the Council, ‘You are the guardians of the public purse,’ and I don’t want to be the people’s banker. I only want government to assess what the needs are and fund them, but not to have a comfort blanket over government so that we never have to have a stomach ache or headache about where the money is going to come from. I think that government should be quite lean, but not mean. I think government has to be very cautious in that role because it’s easy when just by a vote you can increase the dollars people have to send to you.”

Here’s the interview which aired on January 2, 1998:

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(h/t: Sylvia Mohn)

  • During the 1970s and 80s I had numerous disagreements with Council Member Rainville. But I always found her very willing to listen to my position and she would re-consider her position on issues if presented with new information. She was always honest about her position on issues, never saying one thing and voting differently. Many of our disagreements were the result of her doing a very good job of representing the people of her ward–who did not often agree with this South Minneapolis liberal.

    She was missed when she retired from the council. In this time of loss, I urge her friends and family to celebrate this wonderful politician and community member.