St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman is running for reelection.

Flanked by supporters on the 22nd floor of the downtown Crowne Plaza Hotel, Coleman said Wednesday that he intends to continue the initiatives he began when he took office three years ago, despite the challenging economic atmosphere.

"Governing in a democracy is never easy, but the immense challenges we face in 2009 present obstacles few of us have ever seen," he said. "I seek reelection at a time of great uncertainty."

The economic environment has changed starkly for the worse since the last mayoral election, and the city is bracing for more cuts in aid from the state, which faces a $4.8 billion deficit itself.

Coleman, 47, said Wednesday that Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Legislature can't expect cities to keep taking cuts.

"In the next several months, decisions made a mile north of here will determine if St. Paul continues down the path to greatness," he said.

Coleman's name has been tossed around as a contender for governor in 2010. When asked after his speech whether he was going to throw his hat in for that race, he said repeatedly: "We're focusing on St. Paul."

So far, in the city

The St. Paul property tax levy has increased annually by 8.6 percent, 14.6 percent and 9 percent in Coleman's first three years. Business licenses, permits and other fees also have gone up. New downtown buildings, however, have not.

Coleman has put more police officers on the street and approved the creation of a new department to improve the way the city does business with minority- and woman-owned businesses. His Second Shift initiative, which seeks to provide kids with quality after-school programs at libraries, rec centers and at other community centers, has garnered national praise. The Central Corridor light-rail line has progressed in its engineering and funding quest.

Absent from his remarks, though, was any mention of the Republican National Convention, held at the Xcel Energy Center in September. Coleman has previously hailed the event as a publicity success and praised police for using restraint over several days of protests that concluded with more than 800 people being arrested. But many business owners and citizens were outraged at unfulfilled financial expectations and police actions.

The supporters

Among the people supporting Coleman are the full City Council and a broad mix of local, state and federal elected officials. The union presence also was strong at Coleman's announcement.

But he hasn't earned the support of everybody.

"As part of our efforts to promote economic development in St. Paul, the chamber has supported a variety of Mayor Coleman's initiatives and disagreed with others," said Kris Johnson, president of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. "To date, the chamber has not endorsed a mayoral candidate."

The St. Paul Police Federation, which has been battling the administration over pay, has not taken a stance, either, said Dave Titus, union president.

A small field at this point

In 2005, Coleman claimed 69 percent of the votes when he defeated incumbent Randy Kelly, a DFLer who had endorsed President Bush in 2004.

So far, there hasn't been much buzz about other DFL opponents. Republican John Krenik has said he will challenge Coleman.

On Wednesday, though, Coleman didn't seem too concerned with competition.

"We have been tested before and will be tested again," he said. "But we will stay the course."

Chris Havens • 651-298-1542