Stubble: What should I call you?
Chris: Online, I’ve been stuck with “CRZ” ever since signing emails with it back in the ’90s working tech support, but you can call me Chris – it’s much shorter than “yes, that is my real name.” (I also answer to “Zim” when there are too many Chris/Christophers in the room.)
Stubble: Why did you decide to run for the mayor of Minneapolis?
Chris: I was very unhappy with the recent performance by our current mayor and city coucil, combined with distress caused by the choices it appeared we were being given in this election… and decided that I could either do a lot of complaining about it or file myself. I showed up at the Elections Department on the first day of filing, but sadly I wasn’t the first to file for mayor; I was second.
I’m not sure if you’ll ask, but let me go ahead and say that I love that we have 35 candidates. I wish we had even more! People who complain that there are too may choices probably also have trouble choosing a flavor at Sebastian Joe’s so they complain loudly about how they should carry less kinds of ice cream. It may take a little more effort to find “your” candidate under these circumstances, but isn’t it great that all of us are much more likely to be able to vote FOR somebody rather than AGAINST somebody else? More choice is usually preferable to less choice, and I feel that’s definitely the case here.
Stubble: You mention on your campaign’s facebook page that you are an “absolutely serious” candidate, what makes you so serious?
Chris: I’m not SO serious, but I did make a special point of saying it right up front as the first words on the Facebook page because it’s terribly easy for the … let’s say “larger media” to proclaim – and, by extension, for their readers who automatically believe everything they read there to believe – that anybody who isn’t properly blessed can and should be automatically ignored/dismissed as a frivolous candidate. Wow, that was a very labored sentence. Let me put it this way: Seeing sentences beginning with “Serious candidates include…” – I really bristle at that kind of reporting. It’s such a weasel move, you know? And they were reporting like that during the filing period when half of the folks they were deigning to cover still hadn’t even filed! I really do believe every candidate is serious in their own way. Of course, I’m not blind – some of the candidates make it a lot more easy to take their candidacies seriously than others.
Stubble: If you could go back in time and experience a day in Minneapolis in the last 200 years, when would you visit and what would you do?
Chris: That’s tough – there are so many great things to see and experience. My wife and I were married at the Hennepin History Museum ten years ago this October and we have a lot of books of photos of Minneapolis “as it was” and it’s just fascinating comparing how it was then to how it is now. Actually, I know how cliche this sounds, but we really do have some great museums that DO allow you to go back in time, in a sense! Start at the Hennepin History Museum…tell ’em Kim & Chris sent you.
I also wonder what we’re experiencing right now that people would be curious about 200 years from now. Perhaps the success of ranked choice voting in the 2013 mayoral election? I just hope the Witch’s Hat is still standing.
Stubble: What are the top three most pressing issues facing Minneapolis in the coming decade and what are the best ways to address them?
Chris: One thing that will come up during the next mayor’s term that I’m really excited about is the opportunities that may present themselves during the renegotiation of the municipal Wi-Fi contract. Our own councilman Cam Gordon has been right on about mistakes made since before the initial 10 year contract was signed and I hope that he is listened to and taken a lot more seriously this time around, assuming he remains on the council. One thing I would like to see is an expansion of free access to city Wi-Fi (we’ve certainly got all kinds of unused capacity) and removal of the barrier of requiring a credit card number to access city hot spots. Why can’t city Wi-Fi be more like airport Wi-Fi? Wow, can you imagine us thinking of this that way even two years ago?
Thinking again of the next four years – I know you said decade, but that’s just too far out for me and I wouldn’t want to plan for my third term until I’ve won a second time – I think we’re going to have a lot of trouble with our money disappearing into this sinkhole of a proposed new stadium if it doesn’t get stopped in time. I’m still trying to figure out how Mayor Rybak and 7 of 13 on the council thought it was a fine idea to ignore the City Charter and not give us a chance to vote on it and I guess the only possible answer is they all figured they were on the way out anyway so to hell with it.
The third thing will probably be some disaster we can’t even imagine yet, but in case it isn’t, I still have concerns that despite all assurances, we’re not yet totally out of the woods on the issue of meeting pension obligations. I’m worried that some very hard decisions about where our money can go and where it won’t be able to go are coming. And that may include money going between Minneapolis and Minnesota, or vice versa as the case may be. It could be big trouble. Hopefully it’s just unwarranted paranoia on my part. Of course, even these kinds of problems may present an opportunity to cut way back on government in general…
Stubble: Why do you identify as a Libertarian?
Chris: Well, I took that “world’s smallest political quiz” in high school…actually, I think I originally did it to be contrarian, because I wasn’t too keen on (the elder) Bush OR Dukakis and was looking for another way. As time went by, the concept of a very minimalist government which stayed out of the way and left folks alone with their liberty so long as they were harming others really appealed to me. I’d love to say I’ve been with [LP Presidential candidate in 1988 and 2008/2012 GOP candiate] Ron Paul since 1988, but I wasn’t quite old enough to vote that time. (I’m 42.) The first LP guy I really heard from and identified with was Harry Browne back when he would appear on Larry King’s show. The Internet’s made it a lot easier to discover the appeal of a libertarian philosophy (big or small “L”) as well as talk it out with like-minded complete strangers. But I’ve never gone to a party meeting and haven’t paid a cent in membership dues. So I guess it’s a very pure form of libertarianism, that.
The LP doesn’t caucus in Minnesota as far as I could find; in 2008, I served as precinct captain for Ron Paul at the GOP caucus (sparsely attended) and was also elected a BPOU delegate, for Ron Paul again, in 2012. It was a neat trick, as during both cycles I was never actually IN their party. I could say a lot about the GOP and those experiences, but I would hate to go negative here. I’ll say instead that it was a great learning experience about grassroots efforts and, to their credit, the state Republicans were a little more amenable to us “Paultards” than the national GOP was…but it was never in doubt whether or not I would start calling myself a “Ron Paul Republican” instead of a Libertarian.
Stubble: Where is your favorite place to get breakfast in Minneapolis?
Chris: At the risk of being perfectly honest, which is always a dangerous move for even an air quotes politician…in my nine years here, the only place I have ever eaten breakfast in Minneapolis besides home is the McDonald’s at The Quarry! I really like Keys Cafe in St. Paul as well as in Roseville – my current day job is in Roseville – so I’m sure Keys Foshay would be a good “political” answer…but I have to think Hell’s Kitchen would be good too. Oh, and before I die I need to go to Al’s Breakfast in Dinkytown as well. Hey…this turned into a pretty political answer after all!
Stubble: How do you like your coffee?
With a good amount of fat-free half & half and a packet of Stevia in the Raw. My wife makes great coffee!
Stubble: Who is your favorite professional wrestler and how does he help inspire your campaign?
Chris: Now I wonder why you’d ask that! Obviously, I would have to say I draw inspiration from Governor Ventura and would love to take a page out of his book and “shock the world!” but another wrestler-turned-office seeker I really admire is Bob Backlund, who has failed at running for office in Connecticut but in my mind will always hail from Princeton, Minnesota.
By the way, I need to make at least one outrageous promise so let me give you a scoop: if I win AND it turns out we end up not tearing down the dome, saving us hundreds of millions of dollars, I promise to use all the power and prestige of the mayor’s office to convince Vince McMahon and the WWE to bring WrestleMania to Mall of America field. It probably won’t work, but it won’t hurt to try!
Stubble: What is your favorite song to sing at Karaoke and why?
Chris: Har Mar Superstar himself once complimented me on my rendition of Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up” but I prefer to perform the works of ABC, Howard Jones and (near the end of the night) Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones.” This is an excellent time for me to plug the best karaoke in town run by my brother-in-law Joel.
Stubble: And finally, what is your campaign budget and how would you rate your chance of winning?
Chris: My intention is to spend as little money as possible (I’m just under $30 and holding – most of that was the $20 filing fee) – and I would rate my chances of winning as slightly higher than that.
Stubble: Thank you for your time!
Chris: Thank YOU! To everyone who read this far, I would be honored to earn one of your three ranked votes in November. If you’d like to talk some more, or even just heckle me, the Facebook link is back a few questions, but if you eschew Facebook, you can find me on Twitter @CRZ, or send a good old fashioned email to CRZ@CRZ.net.