St. Paul Mayoral Race, Final Days

The five viable candidates from before remain the five viable candidates:

Elizabeth Dickinson
Melvin Carter
Dai Thao
Tom Goldstein
Pat Harris

Last week there was some controversy over a mailing that did an excellent job of underscoring why I view the Police Union endorsement as a negative rather than a positive.

Back in August, Melvin Carter’s house was burglarized. Among the items taken: two guns, formerly the service weapons of his father, a retired St. Paul police officer. Carter was not able to provide serial numbers to the police. I’m honestly not sure to what extent Responsible Gun Owners consistently have this information recorded somewhere? I’m sure it’s a good idea, but I feel like this rates way below “have the guns locked up,” and also, I mean, given that these are former service weapons, I would honestly expect that if anyone had the serial numbers recorded, it would be the SPPD.

The guns were locked up; however, they were locked up in a box that was itself carried off. There are a lot of gun owners that use a trigger lock or a mini-safe (or both) and not a full-on gun safe. Gun safes are huge and heavy and you literally often can’t put it on your second floor because the floor won’t bear the weight.

Anyway. You would not think that the police department would make being the victim of a crime an issue in a campaign, but they did. The Police Federation sent him an “open letter” on October 24th. The next day, a PAC called “Building  a Better St. Paul,” which had been working on behalf of Pat Harris, sent out a postcard (I can’t find an image of it online) that is some full-on Willie-Horton-in-a-revolving-door racist bullshit. 

Pat Harris posted a video that night, speaking out against the mailing, and the PAC shut down and the police federation said they’d stay out of the rest of the race. And Pat Harris returned their donation.

But … yeah, I mean, I think I made it clear that I do hold your friends against you, when you’re running for public office. Especially when they’re friends you sought out.

And the racist bullshit of the attack against Melvin Carter is just jaw-dropping. Carter is the son of a police officer who has written really movingly about his father. For the police to go after him suggests not that they don’t trust he’ll understand their fears and frustrations, but that they full-on don’t want accountability, ever, to anyone. And that’s what they think they’ll get from Pat Harris: carte blanche to do whatever.

Anyway. Melvin Carter is still my #1. I’ve dropped Pat Harris to #3, though this is largely symbolic as I don’t really expect Elizabeth Dickinson to do well enough for her position on my ballot to matter. Here’s how my ballot will look:

  1. Melvin Carter
  2. Elizabeth Dickinson
  3. Pat Harris
  4. Dai Thao

(Because corruption is still a no-go for me. Sorry, Dai Thao — I do appreciate the fact that you’re calling voters personally, that’s really pretty cool, and if it weren’t for the bribery scandal you very well might have had my vote. But that was a deal breaker. There are probably people who’d shrug and go with “maybe he was misunderstood? or will be a lot more careful?” over Pat Harris’s coziness with the cops, and I think that’s legit! I’m telling you how I’m going to vote, and how I came to this decision. With almost all these city races we’re choosing between a bunch of imperfect, mostly-decent human beings and you get to weigh out your personal concerns and priorities as you make this call.)

I really am excited about Melvin Carter: I think he will be an excellent mayor. (Here’s a lovely article about him that ran in the Press last week. I really believe his “a mayor for all of us” slogan is for real.)



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