"I'm thrilled. I'm elated. I'm humbled," Melvin Carter said Tuesday night after becoming St. Paul's mayor-elect.
It was a heartfelt message on a historic night, and congratulations are in order. Carter didn't just win, he won overwhelmingly by besting his closest opponent, Pat Harris, 2 to 1.
Carter, 38, will become the Capital City's first African-American mayor. His youth, energy and enthusiastic vision for his hometown served him well during the campaign — and will continue to be an asset in his role as the city's CEO. A Generation Xer, fourth-generation St. Paulite, and son and grandson of the historic Rondo community, Carter ran a well-organized, inclusive campaign that touched every corner of the city. His positive message about being a "mayor for all of us" clearly resonated with voters. It speaks volumes that Carter was elected so decisively in a field with several good candidates. And it means he'll step into the job with strong support for the priorities he outlined during the campaign — including pushing for racial and economic equity.
Carter's victory also stands as a powerful denunciation of dirty tricks in politics. A little more than a week before the election, the mayor-elect was the victim of attacks by the St. Paul Police Federation and the Building a Better St. Paul political-action committee, which both backed Harris. The organizations used a letter and mailer to try to connect two guns stolen in a burglary of Carter's home with increased gun violence in the city.
Although both the police union's leader and the PAC's sponsors later said they regretted the tactics — and Harris made it clear he had nothing to do with the boneheaded moves — political experts said the attack likely cost Harris votes.
Despite the 11th-hour smear attempt, Carter will have to build strong relationships with the police and the business community — both key players in moving his agenda forward. In its endorsement editorial, the Star Tribune Editorial Board ranked Harris No. 1 with a slight edge over Carter based on more private- and public-sector experience. The new mayor will face serious challenges, including keeping property taxes under control and addressing economic disparities. But he will take office with strong support from the community along with his considerable talent and energy. We wish him all the best.