R.T. Rybak is a finalist for the 2012 World Mayor Prize

Rybak crowd surfing.jpg
The crowd-surfing face of Mpls could become the first American recognized as World Mayor.
Sure, Minneapolis (mostly) loves R.T. Rybak, but who knew he was internationally renowned?

Rybak, mayor of Minneapolis for just over a decade, is a finalist for the 2012 World Mayor Prize. The contest is organized by the City Mayors Foundation, an international think tank founded in 2003 "to promote, encourage and facilitate good, open and strong local government."

Rybak is one of 25 international finalists, and one of four from the United States, along with Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, John Cook of El Paso, and Cory Booker of Newark. Booker, you might remember, raced into a burning home in April and hauled a neighbor to safety. So unless you think persuading recalcitrant council members to support a new Vikings stadium is a comparable feat, it looks like R.T. faces some pretty stiff competition.

City Mayors board members select a winner and two runners-up "based on the number of votes received and the strength and passion of supporting arguments." The ballot form asks voters to choose their favorite mayor and write an essay explaining their choice. If you want to vote for R.T. -- or maybe you prefer Zeralda, Algeria's Mouhib Khatir -- click here.

The World Mayor Prize, now awarded biannually, was first given out in 2004. No American has ever won the award. Voting wraps up in mid-October, with a winner to be announced in December.

Is the face of Minneapolis worthy of the World Mayor title? Read some of our previous R.T. coverage (linked below) and judge for yourself.

The RT files:
-- Mayor Rybak offers perfect rejoinder to L.A. Nik on Facebook
-- Majority of Minneapolis City Council now supports Vikings stadium
-- RT mentioned as "potential" presidential candidate by New York Times
-- COVER FEATURE: The real RT Rybak
-- Rybak proposes quicker street repairs, 90 job cuts
-- Rybak laments fire department cuts: Q & A
-- Rybak blames pot smokers for Minneapolis murders
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