Jane Prince, an attorney and former St. Paul City Council aide, has become the odds-on favorite to succeed Kathy Lantry as the Seventh Ward’s council member.
Prince captured the DFL Party endorsement for the seat last weekend, after a nerve-wracking nine ballots where the big question became whether she could outlast a movement to adjourn the convention without making any endorsement.
The DFL endorsement gives Prince a decided advantage on the East Side, where Lantry -- a party favorite -- long has been re-elected without significant opposition and served for more than 17 years.
There could be other candidates in the fall election, since filing for office won't begin until July 28. Not all of Prince's DFL opponents have pledged to back her, and since St. Paul now has ranked-choice elections there will be no primary to narrow the field.
For three ballots Saturday, Prince fell just short of the 60 percent of the votes needed for endorsement. But delegates rejected a no-endorsement motion by candidates John Slade and Steve Frazer and proceeded to crown Prince, a Mounds Park resident, with the party’s backing.
“It was quite a day,” said Prince, who credited her volunteer team and endorsements from state Rep. Sheldon Johnson, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, and labor, women’s and veterans groups with her victory.
From the start Prince led a strong field of five DFL candidates, most of them like her running for office for the first time. Slade, a community organizer and grant writer, occupied second place throughout the balloting but in the end was able to garner no more than 41 percent of the vote.
Attorney Elliott Nickell was the first to drop out of the balloting, followed by Science Museum manager Paul Sawyer and Frazer, a St. Paul police watch commander. Sawyer threw his support to Prince after the third ballot.
When the candidates were questioned by the Star Tribune in January, only Sawyer said without qualification that he would abide by the party’s endorsement. Slade said at Saturday’s convention that he also would honor Prince’s endorsement, and encouraged the other candidates to do so.
Prince, alumni relations director for the Hamline University law school, for years was top aide to St. Paul City Council Jay Benanav. Benanav lost a close election for mayor in 2001 to Randy Kelly.
Lantry, who had been council president for 10 years, resigned her seat last week to become the city’s Public Works director. Former police chief William Finney will be sworn in Wednesday to serve as interim council member until the end of the year, when the winner in this November’s election will take office.