The first day of filing for political office Tuesday in St. Paul was a decidedly low-key affair.

Just a few T-shirt-wearing volunteers for Mayor Melvin Carter and a pair of school board candidates gathered for a noon filing "event" outside the Ramsey County elections office on Plato Boulevard. But after more than a year of pandemic and unrest, low-key is fine, they said. Besides, they have more than three months to connect with voters.

Carter, who is seeking a second four-year term leading the city, walked up to the doors of the election office to the applause of about 10 people. He was one of five candidates to file for mayor on Tuesday. But the first Black mayor in St. Paul's history, who easily won DFL endorsement in a DFL-dominated city, is expected to face less of a challenge this time around.

In 2017, Carter defeated former City Council Member Pat Harris with more than 50% of the vote on the first ballot. St. Paul has ranked-choice voting for city elections.

Carter talked about a different set of challenges this time around — challenges that transcend simply getting the most votes.

"St. Paul, like other cities, has been through a sea of global crisis over the last year and a half or so," he said. "So I think the biggest challenge for us is collectively making sure our feet are under us and collectively committing ourselves to the democratic inclusive economy that we know we are building for St. Paul. The tendency for trial and trauma to separate us is the biggest challenge for us."

Candidates will have until Aug. 10 to file for office. Besides Carter, others filing Tuesday were Scott Evans Wergin, Bill Hosko, Dora Jones-Robinson and Paul Langenfeld.

By late Tuesday afternoon, only two candidates had filed for seats on the St. Paul school board: Halla Henderson and Uriah Ward. Henderson, who graduated from the University of St. Thomas, is a community organizer who works with young people. Ward and his wife were teachers in North Carolina before relocating to Minnesota. He works at Augsburg University.

Henderson and Ward are seeking to fill two of three four-year school board seats up for election. Like Carter, they are DFL-endorsed.

James Walsh • 612-673-7428