ST. PAUL (KMSP) - Two leading candidates for St. Paul mayor are trying to move past the fallout from a controversial flyer sent to voters this week.
The flyer in question ties guns stolen from the home of candidate Melvin Carter to an increase in violent crime in the city.
A group named Building a Better St. Paul sent the flyer out. It was funded by several organizations, including the St. Paul Police Federation and the Chamber of Commerce.
The latter openly supports Carter’s opponent Pat Harris. Harris strongly denounced the flyers, and the group responsible has disbanded, but not before throwing the mayor’s race into turmoil.
On Saturday, Carter spoke with reporters for the first time at length about the current disorder, and the impact the burglary, and now the flyers, have had on him and his family.
“This week has been an experience in extremes,” Carter told Fox 9. “There was extreme challenge put forth not just to me, but to our whole city.”
The flyer referenced the August burglary of Carter’s home, in which two handguns were stolen. Both the flyer and a letter issued by the head of the Police Federation in St. Paul tried to tie the theft to the increase of gun violence in the city.
“The question, I think, became pretty quickly is ‘who are we going to be as a city?’” said Carter.
Not only does this impact the race itself, but also Carter’s family.
“It’s something that my wife, Sakeena, my children and I have spent a whole lot of time processing,” Carter told Fox 9. “Just getting beyond to make sure we can feel secure and safe in our homes.”
Elected officials, including outgoing Mayor Chris Coleman and Senator Al Franken denounced the flyers, some calling them racist.
Pat Harris said his campaign had nothing to do with the flyers. He called them an example of the mischief independent political groups can cause.
“What they do is unfortunate, and it doesn’t reflect me,” said Harris. “It doesn’t reflect St. Paul, and it doesn’t reflect how we operate in this city and we have to categorically reject it.”
Harris joined Mayor Coleman in calling on the leadership of the St. Paul Police Federation to resign. They declined to do so, but said they would pull back from political activities.
The Chamber of Commerce also denounced the flyers, and apologized to Carter and his family.
Harris, Carter and other candidates are trying not to let the issue become a distraction in the final days of the campaign.
“Feeling re-traumatized through that experience has been difficult, and it’s resulted in a whole lot of tough conversations with our children at home,” said Carter. “And that’s something no one should have to go through.”