(KMSP) - On election night, Melvin Carter easily defeated a crowded field of mayoral candidates to lead St. Paul for the next four years.
His victory comes after a controversial direct mail campaign tried to tie a burglary at his home to the rising gun violence rate in St. Paul.
While we may never know how much of a role the controversy played, the Carter campaign is a lesson in starting early and building grassroots support.
“I’m elated. This is a dream come true,” he said. “We started this campaign a year and a half out by just talking to people. We just asked folks, ‘what's the St. Paul you can imagine,’ and we just had a year and a half of conversations with people of St. Paul about why they chose to live here, why they chose to build their business here, what their dreams are for their children.”
But those dreams collide against reality. On the very night voters elected Carter, police responded to a stabbing death and a shooting in the capitol city.
However, Carter's answer to controlling crime is not in hiring more police or building a bigger jail.
"We're going to invest in our community resources, in our schools and in our libraries and we're going to invest in a force of police officers, the diversity of our communities and have a stake in our neighborhoods. We're going to invest heavily in the trust between our neighbors and our officers so that we're always able to work on the same team to produce safe neighborhoods," Carter said.
Carter moves into City Hall to lead a vibrant and diverse city, one that he believes holds promise.
“I think St. Paul is the greatest city in the world. I believe whole heartedly in cities, especially in the context of everything that is going on in the national level, that cities can be the elixir, and I plan to spend every ounce of energy in the future just leading St. Paul into that future," he said.
Carter is also making history; he'll be the first black mayor of St. Paul. He calls himself part of the Rondo family, with deep roots to the past and now a connection to the future.