I am Ray, a fourth-generation Northsider, currently living in the Jordan neighborhood.
Like many who grow up with little opportunity, I experienced the justice system from the inside. With the help of my community and all who have embraced me, I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to chart a new direction for my life. I am humbled to be a candidate for Minneapolis’ highest executive office.
I grew up with three siblings in a working-class Brooklyn Park home. My father, a teamster, spent his days operating a warehouse forklift. My mother worked part-time for a company that made toilet paper wraps for American soldiers stationed in Vietnam. For additional income, my father would plow snow every winter, and all of us kids had paper routes. We relied on each paycheck. As a teenager, I made some bad decisions. I started drinking and taking drugs, and eventually needed money to support my cocaine habit. In 1976, I was arrested and convicted of burglary—an incident that later allowed me to repurpose my life. After serving seven months, I was released to a drug treatment program at Hennepin County Medical Center. I’ve been sober for 40 years. Wanting to vote again, I applied for and received a full pardon from the State of Minnesota in 1982.
I am privileged. I live as if I never committed an offense. It’s systemically unfair. Many of my peers will not be given the same opportunity the system gave me—a straight, white man.
With my second chance, I went back to school. I graduated from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in 1993 with a degree in architecture. I am still repaying my student loans. As the national president of the American Institute of Architecture Students, I advocated for 35,000 architecture students in the U.S. and Canada and learned the power of grassroots organizing.
I then moved to the Northside and got involved in my community as a member of the neighborhood board. I worked on home foreclosure prevention, criminal justice reform, and establishing equitable access to public transportation. Through the Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition, I connected my neighbors to assistance if they fell behind on their monthly payments. I got involved in electoral politics, volunteering for the late Senator Paul Wellstone, and with then State Representative Keith Ellison. I was also awarded a Bush Fellowship, which I spent studying how people are affected by the way we build cities.
All this led me toward running for and being elected to the State Legislature in 2012, representing District 59B, which includes the Northside, Bryn Mawr, North Loop, Elliott Park, and Downtown.
Thank you for the opportunity to earn your trust and your vote.