St. Paul mayoral candidates jockey for position as race heats up

The mayoral election in St. Paul may be months away but candidates are already jockeying for position. Four of the six announced candidates are seeking the DFL endorsement, and appeared at ward and precinct caucuses this weekend.

“It’s great because, look, it’s a beautiful day and people are coming out because they want to make a difference,” said Pat Harris, a former council member and current mayoral candidate.

“It’s a chance for people to evaluate you and get your word out,” said Tom Goldstein, a former school board member and current mayoral candidate.

Although the race is non-partisan, the endorsement is seen as holding a lot of sway.

“This process which makes people matter is the process that makes it possible for someone like me to say I want to be mayor of this whole city,” said Melvin Carter, a former council member and current mayoral candidate.

“There are many parts of the world where folks don’t have this process where folks can go out and listen to people that are serving them,” said Council Member Dai Thao, the only current council member running for the city’s highest office.

And while those candidates are actively seeking the DFL endorsement, two are not. Those include Elizabeth Dickinson, who has the Green Party endorsement and developer Tim Holden. Both candidates have previously run for mayor.

“You need to keep an open mind to both sides,” Holden said.  “All the different ideas that are out there need to be listened to and be heard.”

“I think ranked choice voting enables DFLers, Greens, anyone to be able to get into the race, go wide, take it to the streets,” Dickinson said.

All of the candidates highlighted issues like jobs, economic opportunity, public safety and improved city services. The candidates also have differing views on development plans in the city, including a proposed soccer stadium in the Midway area.

The DFL city convention is in June but candidates have until August to enter the race ahead of the November election.