Mayor Rybak holds final press conference

Minneapolis, MN - Mayor R.T. Rybak used his final press conference Monday to unveil a new project, reflect on his accomplishments and look toward the future.

"I'm still the mayor," he proclaimed, with two days left in the city's top job.

Rybak used this final time at the podium to announce a new pedestrian walkway that will link the city's immigrant heavy Cedar-Riverside neighborhood to downtown.

"Over the years, the West Bank, which is our Ellis Island, became an island separated from the rest of the city," said Rybak.

The new $500,000 walkway will run along 5th Street, which is closing to make way for the new Vikings Stadium. It will also dedicate space for a privately funded skate park.

It will be called 'Samatar Crossing' after Somali leader Hussein Samatar who passed away earlier this year.

"I cannot thank you enough for that. My heart is full," said Samatar's widow, Ubah Jama.

Watching Rybak shake hands following his last press conference as mayor, it's clear he's leaving a job he loves.

"I won't be able to have as big of a platform, that's for sure," said Rybak.

He is leaving to head Generation Next, a group focused on closing the achievement gap which he calls his biggest piece of unfinished business.

When he thinks about his legacy, Rybak hopes his crowning achievement will be Step-Up, a city program that pairs disadvantaged kids with summer jobs at top public, private and non-profit employers.

"Now they're getting out of college and they're making us a global powerhouse," says Rybak. "You know, if people say I was a crappy mayor but we put 18,000 kids through Step-Up jobs, I'd be happy."

Rybak does not rule out a future return to politics but says it won't be in Washington.

"Why in the world would I go to Washington? I'm all about this place," said Rybak. "You know, the only other thing I'd run for is governor but that wouldn't come up for a number of years and we'll just have to see what happens."'


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