Election 2021: Saint Paul Mayor

Before we get started, I’m going to show you a picture of my new cat. First, you know: cat. But also: I’m going to include some screen shots in this post and putting in a picture of my cat first makes it easier to avoid a text-heavy screen shot turning into the featured image that shows up everywhere.

Here’s who’s on the ballot:

Melvin Carter
Paul Langenfeld
Bill Hosko
Dora Jones-Robinson
Scott Evans Wergin
Dino Guerin
Abu Nayeem
Miki Frost

The tl;dr: if Carter’s your pick, don’t worry about filling out the other four slots on your ballot, because barring something really strange, Carter’s going to win on the first ballot.

Melvin Carter

Melvin Carter is the current mayor and I think he’s done a reasonably good job. During the pandemic, St. Paul significantly expanded indoor space for unhoused people, moving lots of people into hotels to keep them safe from both weather and COVID. After the unrest, St. Paul expedited demolition permits so that burned-out businesses could rebuild as quickly as possible. The biggest complaint you’ll see in the opponents’ websites is crime — which is up everywhere, and I’m not inclined to blame one person for it. (That article talks about how the number of things that changed in 2020 make it very hard to figure out what caused the spike — I have my theories, none of which are things that could be solved by any mayor.) I went into this planning to vote for him, and none of the other candidates here were even a little bit tempting.

Paul Langenfeld

Paul Langenfeld is a former board member of the Highland District Council and ran or runs a charity that apparently offers grants to disabled people who want to go hunting, which — okay, I would be a lot more impressed by this charity if they kept their website in any way up to date, if they had any link I could find for someone who is disabled and would like help going on a hunting trip, and if by “hunting trip” they meant “hunting in the upper midwest” and not “Safaris.”

Paul’s top priority is “standing up for law and order.” He’s vague about what he actually intends to do (and he’s similarly vague about plans for his other priorities). It’s clear from his past accomplishments that his favorite things to do are splashy symbolic stuff, and his plans also emphasize those — he has a whole separate page for his plans for honoring veterans, which include the following:

  • He will proclaim them heroes and speak of them with honor at every opportunity.
  • He will show that we are proud to be an American by displaying mounted American flags at EVERY major street corner citywide.
  • He will bring back the 4th of July fireworks: “Thank you veterans. Our St. Paul fireworks are in honor of YOU.”

I find that last one particularly perplexing, given that a disproportionate number of veterans hate fireworks. But even aside from that — flags on every street corner, seriously? This is what you think veterans want? Have you asked any of them?

Bill Hosko

Bill Hosko is a perennial candidate — in 2015 he ran for Ward 2 City Council on a “no parking meters” platform, and in 2019 he ran for Ward 2 City Council on a “we should spend millions of dollars to install turnstiles for the light rail, and also bring back fireworks, and also lower taxes” platform.

He still wants to install light rail turnstiles, calling this “an end to the honor system” like people don’t jump turnstiles in cities that have turnstiles. (FTR: even if no one ever jumped turnstiles, this would cost a whole lot more than it would bring in.) He also wants a crackdown on shoplifting, and he is trying to individually doorknock the entire city, which … is probably good exercise, anyway.

Almost all the text on his website is in the form of graphics without alt-text. He also has links to a bunch of videos, including one where he shames Melvin Carter for having weeds in his yard. I would not recommend Bill as either a mayor, or a neighbor, holy shit.

Dora Jones-Robinson

Dora Jones-Robinson is the founder and executive director of a group called “Mentoring Young Adults.” Their Facebook page appears to be a Dora Jones-Robinson for mayor page at this point, and their website doesn’t load. Scrolling down, I found a thin blue line symbol posted on March 10th — right after Derek Chauvin’s trial started. Going back to February of 2020 I found something about educating people about getting evictions off your record, so they were doing useful work at least at that point. She’s also a gun control activist.

She also has a campaign Facebook page.

Her goals are pretty generic, she’s pro-cop, and she didn’t have anyone proofread either her website or any of her campaign materials. I am not impressed.

Scott Evans Wergin

Initially, the only information I could find about Scott Evans Wergin was a LinkedIn page that lists his position as “Transcendental Meditation meditator living totality and mortality.” But when I took out his middle name, I also found his Facebook page, where he posts videos calling COVID a scam. (I stopped watching because he also talks very, very slowly, and life is too short and I know enough to tell you not to vote for this guy.

Dino Guerin

According to several of my lawyer friends, if you get arrested on felony charges, the guy you want defending you is local criminal defense attorney Earl Grey (yes, like the tea, and yes, that’s his real name). Apparently the downside of hiring Earl as your lawyer is that his website may list you as a client, with the news story about your guilty plea, twenty years after your conviction, and it might wind up being the very first thing that pops up when someone googles your name to try to find your campaign website because apparently you didn’t put it on the form so it didn’t show up automatically on the “See What’s On Your Ballot” page.

WordPress’s new “Block Editor” has made it impossible to figure out how to do alt-text for images, so just to quickly summarize, this is a screen shot of my Google search demonstrating that I was not exaggerating about it being the very first hit.

That plea deal happened in July of 2000! More than twenty years ago, actually. Would I normally care about $35,000 in bad checks from decades ago? I mean, I’ll be honest: it would to some extent depend on whether I liked this person in other ways.

Dino is a former firefighter and retired fire chief; in 2019 he was named Ramsey County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator by Sheriff Bob Fletcher (who I really do not like.) In 2010, he ran for Minnesota Senate as an Independence Party (Jessecrat) candidate and lost to both the Republican and the Democrat. Back in the 1990s he served on the City Council, then the County Board.

When Pat Harris was running four years ago, Dino is quoted in a PiPress article giving the conservative perspective on him (link goes to the SPPL’s newsbank, you can log in with a St. Paul library card): “Still, some of his proposals draw criticism from those on the right. ‘I don’t think Harris is that conservative. He’s not getting out in front of the crime stuff, the tax stuff,’ said Dino Guerin, a former St. Paul fire captain who served on both the city council and Ramsey County Commission. ‘I know he’s endorsed by the police, but he’s really playing it safe, and it may cost him.'”

So yeah: he wants to “run the City of Saint Paul as a business,” he wants more cops, he wants lower taxes. His website is coherently written but his Facebook posts are not, and he was really mad that the PiPress mentioned his criminal conviction in its coverage of him but doesn’t seem aware that it’s also the first hit when you Google him.

Being an Emergency Preparedness Coordinator seems like actual credible experience and I find it really strange that his name came up in none of the coverage of area emergencies that happened in 2020. His Facebook barely acknowledges the pandemic — I did see some posts from June 2020, arguing that businesses should be allowed to reopen.

Anyway, Saint Paul’s dozen or so Republicans should definitely vote for Dino. I’m not going to.

Abu Nayeem

I’m sorry, I continue to struggle to take someone seriously as a contender when they cosplay as a frog superhero while campaigning.

He has some detailed public safety thoughts, a bunch of which I would argue with. I guess I’ll sum up by saying he’s in favor of increasing police, and he also wants non-police responders but he wants to implement them in a way that would guarantee they’re subordinate to the police.

Miki Frost

Miki Frost runs an anti-violence, youth mentoring non-profit called the 8218 Truce Center (which has a website where you can find contact information if you want services from them). He wants more cops and more youth services. I guess if you want someone who wants more police officers but you don’t want to vote for an actual Republican, he’d be a better choice than Dino.

Things I did not find anywhere on any of these websites:

  • Endorsements. I’m not sure anyone even had an endorsement up from their mom.

Which is a big piece of why I do not think any of these candidates have any shot at winning. If you like one of the other candidates better, by all means list them first! That’s one of the nice things about instant runoff. But If Mayor Carter is your pick, I wouldn’t worry about trying to fill out the other four spots.

Did you know that I had a book released this April? Chaos on CatNet is a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and takes place in a future Minneapolis. Signed copies are usually available from Dreamhaven and from the current mail-order-only incarnation of Uncle Hugo’s. Books make great holiday gifts, but should be ordered early this year — supply chain issues are happening all over.

I do not have a Patreon or Ko-Fi, so if you’d like make a donation to encourage my work, I’m going to start by pointing my readers at the school nurse from Olson Middle School, who urgently needs a refrigerator for things like student medications.


5 thoughts on “Election 2021: Saint Paul Mayor

  1. Mayor Carter is a great leader for our city, but I have to quibble on the homelessness issue. The city managed encampments and helped people experiencing homelessness with things like portapotties, but all of the housing in hotels was done by Ramsey County, in particular Commissioners Matascastillo and McDonough.

  2. really appreciate your thoughtful insight into our local elections. It means a lot. They’re very important, but most folks don’t seem to think so. Some of us know that they are. I wish I had money to donate. Please keep doing what you’re doing; it’s critical.

  3. Really appreciate your political analysis and thoughts on candidates. Thank you!

    One correction, you said that during COVID St. Paul (implying Melvin Carter) provided more indoor space including hotels for people without stable housing. The City of St. Paul did not do this, Ramsey County did using primarily federal COVID response funding.

  4. This was a lot of fun, thanks! It mirrored some of my own thoughts after looking at campaign websites.

    I think I might throw Nayeem a second-choice vote just because I enjoy the frog superhero getup. And he is from Frogtown, after all. Neighborhood pride! Plus he actually seems to have put a lot of thought into his issue explanations. I don’t agree with half of what he stands for, but I respect how he at least tries to make what he stands for less generic than the other candidates.

  5. Naomi, your summary on Abu Nayeem was pretty worthless and unfair IMO. What James commented is more reasonable regarding the frog costume. Plus it seems like a good way to stand out this time of year when there are so many door knocks.

    I encourage everyone to read Abu’s website first-hand to understand where he’s coming from. Seems like a very capable and dedicated person who’s put a lot of thought into his positions. Carter has lots of momentum of course, but I’ll give Abu a chance, too.

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