St. Paul Ward 1 City Council candidate — Melvin W. Carter III

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In St. Paul’s First Ward, four candidates are running for city council. Looking toward the November general election, TC Daily Planet intern Jonas Rosenberger asked Green Party-endorsed Johnny Howard and incumbent Melvin W. Carter III for interviews. Melvin W. Carter III responded in an email, published below. Johnny Howard responded with an interview, reported here. Other Ward 1 candidates are Anthony Fernandez and James Maceiver. Ward 1 includes the Frogtown (Thomas-Dale) and Summit University neighborhoods in St. Paul, and a part of Union Park. Ramsey County has a website with complete list of candidates in 2011 elections, and a precinct finder to identify your precinct and ward.

TCDP: What do you want to change?

Closing the Achievement Gap – One need only take a closer look at the data on student performance to recognize that there are significant disparities in educational outcomes for students of color attending inner city schools, including a number of schools in St. Paul.  I firmly believe that building partnerships that ensure our students, their families, and their teachers have the resources and support necessary to achieve academic success is the key to ensuring prosperity for all throughout the city.  With a solid education, our children will be equipped to help build a competitive economy for St. Paul and the Twin Cities region.  

Ensuring Central Corridor LRT is a Catalyst for Shared Prosperity – The Central Corridor LRT has the potential to create unparalleled opportunities for public and private investment toward the development of new housing, new businesses, and new jobs.  However, we cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past.  It will be critical for residents, businesses, developers, and other stakeholders to continue to work together to build a vision for development along the corridor that reflects the goals and aspirations of all.  At the same time, we must make continued efforts to mitigate the impacts of construction on the existing businesses and organizations that are the current economic and social anchors for the neighborhoods through which the corridor runs.  

Rebuilding our Economy and Mitigating the Ongoing Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis – St. Paul continues to grapple with the fallout from the collapse of the housing market.  As the economy continues to lag, too many families are struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments, putting them at risk of foreclosure.  Vacant, abandoned houses present livability issues for families in the neighborhood and create understandable concerns for prospective buyers interested in calling St. Paul home.  The city and its partners must continue to work together to ensure that struggling families have the counseling and financial resources they need to stay in their homes.  At the same time, the city and its non-profit and private partners must work together to continue to rehabilitate vacant, boarded homes into sustainable, high quality ownership opportunities for new homeowners.

TCDP: What are the issues that make you different from (the other candidate)?

As a lifelong Saint Paul resident, I am incredibly honored to serve on the City Council. I’m proud of all we’ve been able to accomplish over these past few years – from driving education reform to ensuring light rail transit serves our community well – and I’m eager to continue this work.  I believe my most critical, and perhaps rare, qualification is my broad set of relationships with the diverse constituencies I represent, relationships I draw upon regularly to inform my positions and priorities on the Saint Paul City Council.

TCDP: How long have you lived in the ward? Do you have a family here? A business?

My roots in Ward 1 run deep.  I grew up running track at the Martin Luther King Center and attending after school programs at Hallie Q. Brown Community Center.  I graduated from Saint Paul Central High School and returned to Saint Paul after completing my bachelors at Florida A&M University.  I earned my masters degree in public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.  I learned about the importance of public service from my grandmother, who was deeply invested in improving our community; my mother, who who has served on the Saint Paul School Board and the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners; and my father who served as a sargeant with the Saint Paul Police Department.  

TCDP: City council is a part-time job – what is your other work?

I have the privilege of serving on the boards of several community organizations including the Promise Neighborhood Advisory Board, the Twin Cities Community Land Bank, the Family Housing Fund, the Landmark Center, the Saint Paul Children’s Collaborative, and the Saint Paul College Foundation.  I also participate in the African American Leadership Forum and the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative.  During the summer months, I serve as vocal director for a performing arts camp here in St. Paul.

TCDP: What is your experience in government and politics?

For the past four years, I have had the privilege of serving as the Ward 1 representative to the St. Paul City Council.  During this time, I have worked to bring innovative solutions to the concerns facing our city.  I have worked with, the Saint Paul School District, and Ramsey County, and  the mayor’s office to build the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood, an effort to ensure we are doing everything we can to help our children achieve their full academic potential.  I have worked hard to ensure that the Central Corridor Light Rail serves our community well.  I worked with the Metropolitan Council and the mayor’s office to have three additional stops added to light rail line at Western, Victoria and Hamline Avenues so that local residents can step on and local businesses can benefit from those who step off.  I also Led the community-based process to create Saint Paul’s new Department of Human Rights & Equal Economic Opportunity (HREEO).  Among other accomplishments, HREEO increased St. Paul Housing & Redevelopment Authority contracts with women & minority-owned business by $139 million in one year throught its Vendor Outreach Program.  They’ve also Launched the EMS Academy, a nationally-recognized paid training program for young people to become certified as Emergency Medical Technicians, qualifying them for good-paying jobs in the medical field.

Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Collaborative.