Northeast native Michael Rainville, Sr., is the first to announce his candidacy for the Minneapolis City Council seat held by Steve Fletcher. Standing at the corner of 8th and Marshall Streets NE on Dec. 12, just around the corner from where he grew up, he shouted through a microphone to four crowds of supporters, “Can you hear me? Can you hear me at City Hall?” Shouting through facemasks, they answered, “Yes!”
“I never wanted to run for public office before,” he told the Northeaster. “But our city’s in crisis.” Referring to Fletcher as “the current occupant,” Rainville said, “He doesn’t want to listen to us. We need a council member who will listen and bring together the people that need to be heard. We can do better. We will do better.”
The Third Ward spans the Mississippi River, and Rainville has deep knowledge of both the Northeast and downtown-North Loop sides. He was raised in St. Anthony West, the area his ancestors settled in the 1860s. He began his working life as a dishwasher and bus boy at the old St. Anthony Commercial Club on University and Central. He became intimate with the workings of downtown when he worked in sales for 35 years for the Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Bureau (Meet Minneapolis). “I know the culture of the Third Ward. I know how government works in Minneapolis,” he said.
Social justice is a concern for Rainville. “It’s top of the list in the North Loop,” he noted. “Right up there with public safety.”
Rainville hailed the City Council’s recent vote to maintain the police force at 888 and move some funds and functions to mental health workers and violence prevention programs, but said more needs to be done. “The manager at Market BBQ was shot. A customer at an ice cream shop was pistol-whipped. An artist was so badly beaten and robbed, they have brain damage. Right now, Minneapolis is not a good city to raise a family in or commute to work in.”
He recalled the 1990s, when Northeast experienced a similar crime wave and citizens, himself among them, formed walking groups and worked with police to deter crime.
One solution, he said, is jobs. “People prosper when they work.” He noted that the hospitality industry accounts for some 36,000 jobs in downtown and Northeast. That includes the people who supply the restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues as well as the people who work in them. “We’ve got to get that economic engine going again.”
A member of the Northeast Arts District board of directors, he said, “We need an Arts District grind in City Hall” to preserve and promote the interests of area creative workers. He has also served as president of the St. Anthony West Neighborhood Organization (STAWNO), was instrumental in creating a summer program at Dickman Park, lent his support to the Sexual Violence Survivors’ Memorial at Boom Island, and helped bring the Veterans Memorial Park to the Sheridan neighborhood.
Rainville said he looks forward to the coming campaign, and acknowledges he has a long road ahead of him. If elected, he would follow his aunt, the late Alice Rainville, and his cousin, Barbara Johnson, into city leadership. Both women served as City Council president; Alice was the first female to hold the office.
He vowed to listen to Third Ward residents and endeavor to return their phone calls within 24 hours. His lawn signs promise a “common sense voice at City Hall,” and he talked about healing and balance. As the rally concluded, Rainville assailed the current occupant’s statements that it’s all about the data, as the most disrespectful to ward residents.
“Let’s bring respect back to Minneapolis! Respect! Respect!” As his followers picked up the chant, Aretha Franklin’s song, “Respect” boomed across Marshall Street.
Below: All Minneapolis City Council and Mayor posts will be up for election in 2021. Michael Rainville and supporters at all four corners of the 8th and Marshall intersection announced his candidacy for Third Ward City Council Member Saturday, Dec. 12 at 12 noon. Saying “our voices are not being heard” and that the current occupant may be using the city office as a steppingstone, Rainville promised to heal the ward, listen and bring people together. Introducing candidate Mike Rainville, Alisa Mulhair detailed how he had served as a mentor, his passion for getting the next generation involved, and the importance of good relationships with police, the importance of connections and understanding how the system works. (Photos by Nik Linde)