St. Paul, Minnesota has elected its first African-American mayor, Melvin Carter.
“I’m thrilled. I’m elated. I’m humbled,” Carter said, as he was greeted by about 200 jubilant supporters at his post-election party at the Union Depot in St. Paul’s Lowertown. He passionately stated, following the election results, “With you by my side, I’m ready to work.”
On election day, 61,646 people showed up to vote and WCCO reported that many places were unprepared for the record turnout as several locations ran out of ballots.
“What I think happened,” Carter told WCCO, “is the voters said loud and clear, they’re ready for change.”
According to Carter, listening to people across the city helped him develop a “big, bold” vision for St. Paul’s future.
Carter received nearly 51 percent of the vote, over double what the second-place candidate, Pat Harris, received.
According to the Star Tribune, many St. Paul residents expected Harris and Carter to run neck and neck in the first round, potentially delaying election results.
Instead, Carter emerged a clear victor after all 96 precincts reported results.
Carter’s campaign focused on drawing the people of St. Paul together by identifying problems they have in common that have both personal and community consequences. Carter also wanted to grant those people the influence to solve the problem to help create a future all citizens’ desire.
The long time St. Paul resident campaigned on promises of affordable pre-kindergarten education, expanding public transportation throughout the city and metropolitan area, reducing educational and employment disparities, improving police-community relations and law enforcement reform. Carter has also been a strong proponent for denser development and economic growth.
According to Carter, this grass roots organizing “gave (them) the momentum” needed to win the mayoral election.
Carter was previously a member of the city council and served as the executive director of Gov. Mark Dayton’s Children’s Cabinet.
Many people endorsed Carter on his campaign, including support from Gov. Dayton and former St. Paul Police Chief William Finney. One of the platforms Carter ran on was police reform, and Finney believes Carter can continue to build “trust between law enforcement officers and the community they serve.”
He also received several endorsements going into the election, including that of Coleman and Democratic National Committee Vice Chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the House representative for St. Paul’s neighbor, Minneapolis, which is also in the midst of its own mayoral election.
As a city council member, Carter formed the city’s Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity, created the city affordable house trust fund and lobbied $20 million in investments in Frogtown and Summit–University neighborhoods since 2009.
This was St. Paul’s first open mayoral race in 12 years and it had a new voting format. Each voter was asked to rank up to six of the 10 candidates.
If nobody had 50 percent plus one vote during the first round, then the candidate with the least number of votes was eliminated and the second-choice votes would be counted from the eliminated candidate’s ballots.
This process was not needed, however, because of Carter’s dominance.