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MINNEAPOLIS -- Every candidate knows his beginning, even Raymond Thomas Rybak.

"I wanted to be mayor since I was a little kid," Rybak said during a sit-down interview on his three-term run as Mayor of Minneapolis.

The 12-year run will officially end at midnight on Jan 1. Next week a successor will be named in a wide open race to replace him.

To learn the Mayor's office was always his dream, begs the question -- why go?

"I took a long time to make the decision, and I am a lot more confident than other people that you can get things done when you are done, and you don't have to have a label like mayor in front of your name," Rybak said.

Rybak says he will return to a role he played pre-mayor as an activist for change in Minneapolis.

But rumors have always been rampant that he is leaving to finally team up with President Barack Obama, who Rybak was one of the first to campaign for back in 2007.

"I was never ever planning to move to D.C. I've told people that the whole time. If I was going to move to D.C., I would have moved when the President got elected," Rybak said.

We asked Rybak about his worst day on the job and he said it came just 11 months after he was sworn in November 2002.

That was the day 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards was killed when she was struck by the flying bullets of gang members outside of her south Minneapolis home. Edwards was doing her homework at a dining room table when she was hit.

"My daughter was Tyesha's age at the time ... You wonder what you can do, and you can't answer anything. That's really hard," an emotional Rybak said.

A second test would come in August 2007 when the 35W Bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River.

"Those days after the collapse were horrible and incredibly inspiring at the same time," Rybak said, remembering the tales of heartbreak and heroism.

Through those tragedies, Rybak stayed the course and was enormously popular.

He said his favorite moment in office came just this past summer.

"City hall on Aug. 1 was an amazing experience to see all those weddings," Rybak said.

Rybak was the mayoral officiator of 46 same sex marriages on the day the newly passed law went into effect.

Now, Rybak faces the reality that a new leader will be chosen, but he refuses to endorse a successor. He instead wants to leave this advice.

"If you get to the point, and I think I got there, where people said you know I just don't agree with you on everything but I respect the way you got there, then you are fine. Just trust your gut." Rybak said.

Over the week, KARE 11 is profiling candidates vying for the mayoral seat.

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