St. Paul candidates gather for a final forum in Frogtown

- With elections just days away, the Twin Cities are preparing for the influence of the votes.

On Saturday, the final mayoral forums in St. Paul were underway, and the candidates focused on neighborhoods and opportunity.

Politics were the main course for the candidates that met at Kolap Restaurant in Frogtown. Six of the candidates for St. Paul mayor gathered for a forum organized by Karen J Larson, radio personality and host of "Living Loud" on WFNU, Frogtown’s community radio.

The audience for the meeting reflected the neighborhood’s diversity. In an area where the poverty level floats above the city average, many questions centered on the government’s role in ending it.

“Our strategies around poverty have really centered around giving money to people who already have money,” said candidate Melvin Carter. “With the assumption that it will somehow trickle down to people who don’t.”

Candidate Dai Thao also chimed in.

“We can talk a lot about intention,” he said. “But our strategy is to measure the outcome. How does it benefit seniors, how does it benefit low-income people?”

The poverty level wasn’t the only topic of debate.

“We need to do a lot less investment in the bright, shiny objects,” said Elizabeth Dickinson during the forum.

Many candidates criticized the investments in projects like the new Minnesota United stadium and housing complexes.

“We got to stop giving out TIF financing for stadiums to don’t produce cost of living wage jobs,” said Trahern Crews. “There’s been studies that show that stadiums don’t produce cost of living wage jobs.”

This was the last forum squeezed in by the candidates, a final chance for voters to have all candidates in one place.

The candidates will spend their final days before the election on the phone, and knocking on doors to drum up support. It will be the first mayoral election in St. Paul using ranked-choice voting.

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