We sat down with Mark Globus, candidate for City Council in Ward 7, to talk about his background, why he decided to run, where he stands on a couple major issues like public safety, housing, and transit. This is part of a series of interviews of people running for City Council – if you have any questions or feedback, use the “Add Context” box at the bottom of this piece.
Southwest Voices: What made you decide to run for office?
Mark Globus: When I was running for mayor back in 2021, I talked to Lisa Goodman. I consider her a friend. I told her I knew she would be supporting Jacob Frey, but explained to her why I was running. At that point, she mentioned she wasn’t sure if she would stay in office forever. She asked me if I’d ever consider a City Council position.
At that point, I was running for Mayor, so I didn’t want just one of thirteen wards – I wanted the big enchilada. But I remembered her saying that. I got shellacked in 2021, and I give myself a pretty low grade on my mayoral race, probably a D or a D+. I think that race was basically decided the day before I got in the race. There was no chance that I could win. People just weren’t listening in 2021. There were the questions on the ballot. There was the defunding of the police.
I heard people saying that the barbarians were at the gate with some of those mayoral candidates. People wanted to coalesce around Jacob and didn’t have time to listen to anyone else. Jacob was their guy, they knew what they had with him. So I was fighting the ocean and the power of the waves.
Fast forward to Tuesday, January 10th, I open up the paper and find out Lisa Goodman was retiring from her position. Frankly, I was surprised by it. My response was that she was one of the most reasonable voices on the City Council, and that we needed to make sure she was replaced with someone that’s smart and someone that gets it. We needed to make sure it wasn’t just someone there for political reasons. It’s an important seat, it represents a lot of downtown businesses, and I quickly decided that I’d do a great job in the seat and I threw my hat into the race.
The other candidates seem to have had a significant head start, I’m not sure how that started. About a week after Lisa announced, the other candidates were way down the field already, which kind of shocked me. I’ve been a bit more slow gearing up, but I am gearing up now, and I think it’s going to be a really close race. There are two other candidates in the race. They’re good people, and I have respect for both of them. I’m just not sure they’re the people I want to be representing Ward 7.
SWV: What has surprised you about the process so far?
MG: Just that I feel like I’m behind already. In the mayoral race, I knew Jacob Frey had all this money behind him, and I didn’t really know what I was doing. It was just so complicated to try to get your hands around the city of Minneapolis and every neighborhood. There, I always felt like I was behind, but I have been surprised at how much I feel like I am now.
These people were organized on day one. The fact that they were organized on day one means… well, it is what it is.
SWV: What are your plans for housing in the city?
MG: One of the things I bring to the table is that I’m one of the only candidates with a background in creating housing. I work in commercial real estate. I don’t know if there’s anyone on the City Council with a background in developing and building and owning commercial real estate. That’s an important part of what’s happening in Minneapolis. Especially with what’s going to happen with the downtown office environment.
We don’t know how things are going to play out with building owners and the financial markets. I have owned and built housing, and I also understand very closely the relationship between the owners and the bankers and the capital stack and all of those deal points. One thing I think the city doesn’t do well is that it doesn't look at its back-end. If I step in and I help this organization or this sports team or this owner, if they become successful and exist in twenty years, what do I get on the back end? What is my take?
As a business person I would sit on the City Council and negotiate my deal like a business person. I want to make sure the city is getting a good deal. Sometimes the city can do things that the private sector isn’t able to do. Let’s make sure we’re negotiating as hard as we can so that when they sell the team or the building in twenty years, the city is rewarded for its involvement.
As far as housing, you asked about housing. Creating housing is very important. I have a background in it. I have certain views about housing and how it should be created. I have certain views on zoning. I hope that answers your question.
SWV: Where do you stand about rent stabilization?
MG: I’m a renter. I know how hard it is to rent. I know how hard it is to scramble and come up with the rent every month. It’s not easy. We’ve seen rents go up significantly in the past several years all while thousands of apartments were being built.
I’m for rent stabilization but I’m not for rent control. I think there’s a lot of negative pieces to rent control. It’s not the cure-all that people think it is. I could walk you through a bunch of the negatives, but ultimately we have to get more housing built. Part of that is the city working with developers on zoning. Part of that may be making the city relax some of the things in the 2040 plan. When you read about it in the Star Tribune, you get the impression that it allows you to build a triplex or duplex wherever you want, but that’s not really the case.
There’s a floor-to-area ratio on a lot. If you buy a house that’s old and you tear it down, generally you’ll only be able to build on the footprint of where that house was because there’s a ratio. You won’t get any special help if you go beyond that ratio.
With rent control, I worry about the rent ceiling, because I know how owners think. If the City Council votes on a three percent rent cap, what you’re doing is guaranteeing rents to go up three percent. If there’s a year where there’s little to no inflation, people will still raise rent by three percent. I’ve been downtown for years, sometimes our rent increases are big and sometimes they’re small. With that ceiling, people get too nervous that the following year inflation is going to pick up that they’re going to say ‘holy mackerel, I am going to end up behind the eight ball here.’
In New York City, when someone’s apartment comes up for rent, that apartment doesn’t necessarily go back to the owner or go back into the housing stock. If someone knows someone at the office or a friend, they’ll tell them they have a great apartment over in Midtown and ask them to just step into the lease. That’s why there’s a housing shortage there. When you come to look for an apartment, the market is just too opaque. Too much of the apartments just go to people that know people.
Rent control just creates another disincentive. I worry about whether owners will keep up their properties if they know what they’re capped at. They need to make capital improvements to improve their properties every couple of years. With rent control, people know how much they’ll get and they don’t reinvest back into the building. Not all buildings in the city are in good condition.
SWV: So you said you’re for rent stabilization and against rent control. Can you spell out what the rent stabilization policy that you support would look like?
MG: I think really working with developers and bringing everyone to the table so more housing stock can be built is important. Anything we can do to decrease the cost of constructions helps reduce the cost of the rent. Not to bore you, but if you do a pro forma for a building you put so much into construction, and you get a loan on that. The less expensive it is, it correlates to less expensive rent.
Also, rental stipends is something the city could consider for people that don’t reach a certain level. I don’t like to call them vouchers – they’re rental stipends. Then at least you have the free hands of the market and supply and demand dictate what’s getting built and where people are vacating. But at the same time you’re helping people afford their rental situation.
SWV: What would your approach be to public safety?
MG: It’s a long story with the Minneapolis Police Department. I recall talking to my friends, and they told me that the Minneapolis Police Department was especially tough and especially unfriendly. I was always very concerned with how they interacted with the public. Years later, we have the murder of George Floyd and the uprising and the terrible situation with Derek Chauvin. The police force has been problematic for a long time.
At the same time, I think there are a lot of really good police. We need accountability on the police force, but we need to support the police force at the same time. I’ve talked to a few officers, and this isn’t scientific, but the police I’ve talked to feel like the City Council and parts of the city government don’t really support them or have their back.
One example which really surprises me is that for years people have said a lot of the problems run through the police union. If a cop receives bad marks, it’s really hard to fire that officer because the police union was very strong. When their contract came up, we had given the police officers big raises, but there was no negotiation. That wasn’t negotiated properly. They changed a couple tiny little things, but that was a perfect opportunity to drill down and say that we need accountability. Bad cops can’t remain.
I think we’re 100 to 200 officers short. I think we need to get back up to the number of police officers we’re comfortable with. I sometimes wonder about the interview process. What type of candidate are they looking for? It strikes you that they haven’t always been reaching out for the right type of officer in today’s world. I think they could change the personality type they’re looking for to find people that want to serve the public.
I think we need more officers, and we need to be competitive on wages with the suburbs so officers don’t feel like they’re stepping down to work in the city of Minneapolis. It’s a tough beat. They should get paid just as much as the suburban police departments for us to get those good candidates.
One other thing I thought about when I ran for mayor was building a really up-to-date police academy. State-of-the-art. Use it to train officers on standard police training, but also on how to be a salesperson for the city. More friendly. More psychology. Those types of things, so the force could be more well-rounded.
I think if you had a great police academy and a great spirit de’cour (SPELL CHECK) it would lead people to say, you know what, I want to be a top cop, and top cops work for Minneapolis. They have the best wages and the best training, and that’s where I want to be.
It’s so hard because I’m not there in the HR department. But I think they need to be doing something different. Safety is key, I don’t want to get away from that. We need a safe city.
One of my biggest issues is when I talk to people who aren’t from Minneapolis, there’s this perception that Minneapolis is unsafe. I think if you talk to the people on the City Council, they don’t buy it. They think that Minneapolis is safe. They think those suburban people don’t get it, and they have their own problems, and that’s why they’re not coming downtown. Look, you cater to your customer. We need to be a more market-driven city. If you’re hearing people aren’t comfortable in downtown Minneapolis, let’s do something about it instead of being so siloed.
I came up with a really focused marketing program called Taste Minneapolis [Editor’s Note: No relation to the Taste of Minnesota event announced last week]. Every Thursday night downtown, you get some buzz going by telling the city to turn off the parking meters and free up their parking structures. I’m going to lean on parking ramp owners to provide free parking. Get five or six restaurants in downtown and Uptown to offer really unique, special menus. Like the Capital Grill, they have the Minneapolis Cut steak – it’s a great steak, it’s a great price.
Then, you flood downtown and Uptown with peacekeepers and police and you create an environment that’s really really safe. On top of that, I want to get police talking to citizens and residents. I think the Twins and the Timberwolves should step up – I’d love to see the police handing out Minnesota Twins caps or Timberwolves t-shirts. Then they’re talking to a resident that’s walking down the street. That’s what it’s all about.
I think if we did programs like this, and were very focused, we could create a buzz. It’s going to help. It’s not going to solve everything, but it’s a piece of the puzzle. This is why I’m different than the candidates in the race. I don’t just want to put together a focus group and look at the issues. I have specific, concrete plans that I think can work. I’ve bounced this program off a bunch of people, and they like it, but I think I need the cooperation of the right people.
That’s why I want to get on the City Council. If I’m on there, I can say hey, let’s get this Taste Minneapolis thing going. I can talk to the right people. If you’re just a regular resident in Minneapolis trying to get the right players on the phone to run the right program, it’s difficult to say the least.
SWV: What would you do to help fight climate change at the city level?
MG: The key is what you said, at the city level. It’s a huge issue, we’re all facing it, it’s the issue of our time. But I’m going to leave it to the state legislature and the governor to do things at the really high level.
At the local level, how can we make an impact? I think we could ask small rental owners to put solar panels on their buildings. In return, we could give them a free rental license. We could give the Park & Recreation Board more funding to create solar gardens in our parks and to set an example for the rest of the city. Green roofs, things that can be done on a local level and in the neighborhood, can be key. I don’t want to get into the big issues, that’s for people at the state level.
SWV: The legislature seems poised to make a pretty large investment in transportation in the city. How would you like to see them prioritize spending that money?
MG: Transportation is somewhat of a polarizing issue. Everyone has their own view of how this city should run.
Lately I’ve been talking to a bunch of people that are upset about the realignment of Hennepin Avenue. You’re also seeing it on Bryant Avenue. I think we need to be pretty careful that we’re not jumping so far ahead that when we’re building streets, we’re not taking into consideration that people are still driving cars. I think we’ve gotten a little bit ahead of ourselves on some of these street designs and the elimination of parking. On Hennepin Avenue, business owners need the parking, for example. Where I used to go to get my haircut, they’re right on Hennepin and 24th Street. They closed, and I think it’s because of a lack of support from the city.
I don’t know where some of these ideas come from. We want to be out in front, and we want to lead on transportation and how it’s laid out, but I think we’ve gotten a little ahead of ourselves.
SWV: So what would you like to see happen on Hennepin Avenue?
MG: The most important things are the greenery and the sense of aesthetic. Doing something with lighting that has a bit more of a wow factor to it. I think we should be less focused on the elimination of parking. Less focused on these hybrid alignments. Call me old school, but parking on both sides of Hennepin Avenue has worked for years. Businesses need that parking.
I don’t know how we got to where we are now. I talk to a lot of people, and they’re unhappy about it. I scratch my head. We should make it easier to make a living in the city, not harder. We need a green city, which is key. But we also need to make it as easy as possible for residents to make a living.
Decisions shouldn’t just come from the top down. I think we need to really look at how it’s going to impact people’s everyday lives. Is it really the best move to eliminate half of the parking on a street where there has historically been a lot of parking? Is that really what we want to do here?
SWV: Public Works has been in the news a lot lately, from snow removal to potholes to Bryant Avenue. What would you change about how the Public Works department operates right now?
MG: I’m a really empirical, bottom-line oriented person. When I saw those articles with a street in Edina next to a street in Minneapolis – the street in Edina was pristine, the street in Minneapolis was half-plowed. The first thing I ask is, hey, is the city of Edina using a different type of plow blade or plowing mechanism?
They’re probably using the same thing, but I need to know that. I’m a details person. I need to know that the equipment Edina’s using isn’t different than the equipment Minneapolis is using. You drive through Minneapolis now, and I’ve never seen them so bad. Maybe we need to change some things around.
I know the Director of Public Works has a hard, thankless job. I know she’s very sharp, and she’s doing a good job, but somehow we’re missing the boat. We’re not delivering the type of product we need to as the city of Minneapolis. Why? I don’t know. But the delivery is not there. I want to look at every piece to make sure that we’re not missing something.
SWV: What’s something about you as a person that you think most people don’t know?
MG: I’m running because I love the city of Minneapolis. It means a lot to me. What happens in downtown Minneapolis and Uptown is just as important to the guy in Shakopee as it is to the person in Uptown. Minneapolis is the heart of our entire state. Our city needs to do well.
When I ran for mayor, I jumped in because I was concerned about the city of Minneapolis. I feel strongly about the city. I have a real love for it. That’s what I got into this race, because I think we need to get the right person on the City Council. When you step back and look at things, you question a lot of the decisions that are being made. Some things don’t make sense, or don’t seem logical. I want to bring back a reasonable, logical, dependable factor to Ward 7. Not that we haven’t had it, but we need someone to jump in that’s ready to tackle the details.
I’m a Democrat first and a DFLer second, and the most important thing to me is that the city functions properly. If you’re happy with how things are right now, you should vote for my competition. If you want somebody that’s going to go in there and shake things up and make sure things are done properly, you should vote for me. That’s one thought I’ve had.
SWV: Any other issues you’d like to cover that we did talk about?
MG: No. I didn’t really have a chance to look over my competitors’ interviews. But I just want to say that if you like how things are, you should vote for one of my challengers, but if you want someone that’s going to change how things work, and do the research, and be innovative, and come up with new ideas instead of forming a focus group, I think you need to take a serious look at my candidacy.