The election in Minneapolis to replace outgoing Mayor R T Rybak continues to gain steam as November approaches. After several debates (including a raucous event in south Minneapolis) the field has only increased in numbers, with more candidates throwing their hats in the ring each week. Karen Boros at MinnPost estimates at least 23 candidates at this point. Your loyal Examiner has thus far scored interviews with two candidates: perceived front-runner Mark Andrew and current Council Member Betsy Hodges (Ward 13). Now the Examiner is proud to add another exclusive interview: candidate Tony Lane, running for mayor under the Socialist Workers Party banner. The party is described by Wikipedia as one that “places a priority on ‘solidarity work’ to aid strikes and is strongly supportive of Cuba.” Mr. Lane described the party as one that helps “working people to take action” and described one of his core campaign issues as the police misconduct around the Terrance Franklin murder.
Tony Lane currently lives in northeast Minneapolis. He grew up in New Zealand and still carries a strong accent from that part of the world. He has worked a variety of jobs in his life, including as a meat-packer and factory worker, and has been involved in union work for many years. He has run under the Socialist Workers Party both here and in Pennsylvania, but mentioned that it was very hard to get on the ballot in both states
Mr. Lane’s current occupation is a warehouse/steel worker for Olympic Steel, where he has been for a year and a half. He said this experience has contributed to his mayoral run by informing his lifetime work to help “working people to organize themselves and society” and to assist in “organizing and developing our strengths.” In what has become a running refrain for his campaign, he described the current crop of DFL candidates as part of the “ruling class” in Minneapolis.
When asked what got him interested in local government, Mr. Lane said that working people “have a need to run for office” and stated that issues like the Franklin case need to be resolved since our current leaders refused to take action. He considers himself part of a world-wide network of working people who start with everyday problems and their solutions and work upward through the system.
Regarding the major issue in this campaign, Mr. Lane stated that ensuring people have jobs is the first priority. He reiterated his earlier pledge at the Sabathani Community Center to set up a jobs plan in Minneapolis if he is elected. He said this “speaks to the interest of the vast majority.” He also described the need to “increase the minimum wage,” spoke of the problem of “police brutality” in the city (only solved by the “prosecution of police”) and the need to create a “space for working people to engage” in the political process.
The Examiner next asked Mr. Lane to follow up a statement he made at the debate in south Minneapolis, calling the other candidates on stage “apologists for the status quo.” The candidate stated that many of the DFL-backed candidates have been part of the establishment and government for many years and that the DFL has had power “for decades.” He also stated that working people were running up against the “invisible hand of capitalism” and that they needed to organize against the capitalist powers such as the DFL party. He also spoke of his support for worker actions against the capitalist owners of companies.
Tying into this, the next question regarded what type of different perspective the candidate brings to the mayoral race. Mr. Lane said that “working people should have a voice in politics” and that “people respond” to the type of working-class politics he talks about door-to-door. He lamented the fact that after the economic crisis a huge amount of temporary and part-time jobs were created and that “class reality” starts with what working people deal with in their lives.
The next question dealt with the police department in Minneapolis and how he’d change the culture there if elected mayor. Mr. Lane seemed to think there wasn’t much chance in changing the culture but spoke of the importance of the “protection of the rights of working people.” He said the “role of the police is to defend the interests of capital” and said he would strive to “restrict the ability of the rulers to curtail our rights.” He held out little hope of reforming the police department and said that prosecution of those officers who break the law can only come from mass protest by citizens.
When asked what he would do if elected to help out working people in Minneapolis, Mr. Lane said he would use the office to support their every struggle and would fight in defense of women’s rights. He cited the revolutionary struggle in Cuba as an example of a “course in the interest of the vast majority,” despite how that historical incident may have been portrayed in the states.
Finally Mr. Lane spoke generally about how most working people today are still not in recovery and that the “crisis is not over” for the people or the system. He reiterated his desription of the current political system as the “dictatorship of capitalism” and considered what working people can do to take power. He cited many revolutionary examples from around the world, including Cuba and Angola, as precedent for working people to take charge of their lives and the government.
Tony Lane is running for mayor of Minneapolis under the Socialist Workers Party.