A third candidate has joined the race for the St. Paul City Council’s open Fourth Ward seat.

Shirley Erstad, executive director of the nonprofit Friends of the Parks and Trails of St. Paul and Ramsey County, announced her candidacy Feb. 16. In a news release, she described herself as “a progressive thinker who believes in a city where everyone is valued and heard.”

“I’m running for City Council to break down barriers and because I believe public service is just that, service to the public,” she said.

Erstad, who has lived in St. Paul for nearly 25 years, has served on city task forces on parks issues and was on the parks director hiring panel for Mayor Melvin Carter’s administration. She’s also involved with St. Paul STRONG, a nonpartisan group that advocates for government transparency and accountability.

Council Member Russ Stark left the Fourth Ward seat Feb. 15 for a job in Carter’s office. His former legislative aide, Samantha Henningson, will serve as interim council member until a special election Aug. 14.

Attorney Amy Ireland and Mitra Jalali Nelson, policy aide and outreach director for U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., entered the Fourth Ward race earlier this month.

The Fourth Ward includes Hamline-Midway, Merriam Park, St. Anthony Park and parts of the Mac-Groveland and Como neighborhoods.