For Your Consideration

“With the St Paul Mayoral Election on Nov. 7th, the forerunners emerge with their views on the capital’s future.”

Andy Stec, Columnist

“Each candidate has a valid and intricate view on the future of our city, and each should be given time and consideration as to how they see that vision fulfilled.”


A historic election waits just around the corner. Five serious candidates have emerged from the woodwork for Saint Paul’s soon-to-be-absent mayoral throne. Current Mayor Chris Coleman, who has now occupied the office for eleven years, sets his eyes on a higher prize: the Governorship. In his wake, a variety of individuals have stepped up and offered themselves as successor – ten to be exact – and of that list, there are undoubtedly leaders in terms of funding, endorsement, and devotion to the campaign: Melvin Carter III, Elizabeth Dickinson, Tom Goldstein, Pat Harris, and Dai Thao. Of important note, mayoral candidates in Saint Paul are not required to register for a particular party, but it seems of no surprise that most have chosen to do so. Melvin Carter, Tom Goldstein, Pat Harris, and Dai Thao all run under the banner of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. Elizabeth Dickinson runs with the Green Party’s official endorsement. This is a historic election indeed; two of the five candidates are persons of color, and one is a woman – any of which would be a first in the city’s 159-year-old office.

On a politically-active campus, it is elections such as this that should draw our attention and participation. Too often, students look past local elections for the pomp and excitement of those on national or even state-wide scales. It remains that events such as this are our greatest opportunity to be heard and to enact a change we view as positive. As such, I cannot express the degree to which I hope students and neighbors will arrive in force on November 7th. For more logistical information, any and all should visit

Because it is so easy to overlook the event and its candidates, I hope to outline each key player and their public stances for the consideration of Hamline students. It should be of note that I, as well, have an opinion going into November 7th. At present, Melvin Carter and Tom Goldstein hold my greatest attention – though in which order I haven’t yet decided. This is, in this instance, important, as the election will be using ranked-choice voting.This will be the second time Saint Paul has used the method in its mayoral election. One simply marks their preferences among the candidates listed.

Melvin Carter comes out of the gate with a well-deserved lead. According to Ballotpedia, he has raised the second-greatest contributions of any player in the mayoral race –  $264,643.06 as of September 12, putting him neck-and-neck with Pat Harris ($287,607.55). He also has perhaps the most experience of any in the running; he was the executive director of Governor Dayton’s Children’s Cabinet and the director of the Minnesota Office of Early Learning, and he spent a term and a half on Saint Paul’s City Council. The only candidate to have attended Saint Paul public schools, Carter highlights education as one of his main focuses; specifically emphasizing a comprehensive policing reform, educational and childhood development, and economic growth in poverty-stricken neighborhoods. His platform and history have brought him by far the hardest-hitting endorsements: Governor Mark Dayton, Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith, Congressman Keith Ellison, Representative Ilhan Omar and a number of others.

Elizabeth Dickinson is the only woman in the running, and the only one in the top five without the DFL ticket. The central focus of her platform runs parallel to this endorsement: a $15 minimum wage, energy and the environment top her list. Dickinson has been particularly vocal in regard to encouraging the growth of solar energy firms in the city, suggesting that such an industry could also serve as job and training growth to struggling citizens. Her ‘Energy Action Plan’ is viewable on her website and specifically proposes a communal solar garden via Saint Paul public schools. Policing reform and transparency, affordable housing, and equity guide her platform moving forward.

Dai Thao is the current City Councilmember for Ward 1. He arrived in the U.S in 1983 as part of the Hmong migration from Laos in response to the Vietnam War. Thao’s experience as a refugee drives his campaign and its focus on people-centered politics. Government accessibility, the $15 minimum wage, and prioritized investments in ignored communities all form pillars in his campaign. He has strongly expressed his opposition to SPPD assistance of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and his devotion toward Saint Paul’s stance as a sanctuary city. I think it worth noting, however, that Councilmember Thao was recently accused of requesting a donation from a lobbyist in exchange for campaign positions, a charge ultimately not pursued by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Tom Goldstein arrives with little official experience beyond a single term on the Saint Paul school board. At $19,953.93 raised as of September 12th, the Saint Paul lawyer is also the second-smallest fundraiser. He instead touts his Bernie Sanders/Tom Wellstone-inspired campaign of financial accountability and personal past of activism. Goldstein has long opposed public subsidies of stadiums and luxury entertainment centers, and as a resident of the Hamline-Midway neighborhood he has been vocal in his opposition to the MLS stadium – the only candidate to be so. Affordable housing, internet access for all, an infrastructure revamp, targeted subsidies of business in neighborhoods like Hamline-Midway and in communities of color, and government accountability are broadcasted proudly amongst a number of other platform policies.

Pat Harris is the current Senior Vice President at BMO Harris Bank and served as Saint Paul City Councilmember for 12 years. Perhaps most notably, he served as the author of Saint Paul’s sanctuary city ordinance. As frontrunner, Harris has recently taken sharp criticism over plans to add fifty officers to the SPPD to combat growing gun violence – though he has taken steps on his platform to address some roots of gun violence through increased spending toward bias training and mental health crisis intervention. Like most every candidate, he also supports city-wide adoption of the $15 minimum wage, increased affordable housing, and education spending. Harris has also been a longtime supporter of Saint Paul Libraries, and proposes a partnership between Saint Paul Public Schools and Libraries to foster school district savings.

Each candidate has a valid and intricate view of the future of our city, and each should be given time and consideration as to how they see that vision fulfilled. All of the candidates I’ve mentioned have campaign websites with detailed information on priorities, platforms, and previous experience and qualifications that every potential voter might consider when casting their poll.