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Carter re-elected in St. Paul; rent-stabilization measure passes

All the big races in St. Paul — the mayor’s race, a ballot measure on rent control and  four school board races — were decided just before midnight.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter speaking to supporters from the Beer Hall at Allianz Field on Tuesday night.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter speaking to supporters from the Beer Hall at Allianz Field on Tuesday night.
MinnPost photo by Greta Kaul

Election night in St. Paul lived up to the city’s reputation — quieter than next-door Minneapolis.

All the big races in St. Paul — the mayor’s race, a ballot measure on rent control and  four school board races — were decided just before midnight on Election Day, while voters in Minneapolis will have to wait until ranked-choice voting tabulation finishes Wednesday to learn the final outcome of the mayor’s race and several city council races.

Carter re-elected

As expected, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, running virtually unopposed, easily won a second term Tuesday as St. Paul’s mayor with 62 percent of the votes cast.

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“I’m here because I believe that St. Paul is big enough for there to be room for every single person at the table, and I’m excited to say that I’m going to be here — we’re going to be here, together, doing this work for at least another four more years,” he said, appearing to declare victory around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Under St. Paul’s ranked-choice voting system, a candidate who wins more than 50 percent of first-round votes wins outright without the election going to ranked-choice tabulation. In that sense, Carter’s victory mirrors his win in 2017, when he was declared winner on election night, winning 50.9 percent of votes.

During Carter’s first four years, he piloted a guaranteed income program for low-income families and started a program creating college savings accounts for all children born in St. Paul. The minimum wage in St. Paul rose to $15 an hour.

Carters’ opponents criticized Carter’s response to rising crime in St. Paul during his tenure as mayor, but Carter faced no serious opposition in his bid for re-election.

Rent stabilization measures pass

Voters in both Minneapolis and St. Paul approved rent stabilization questions on their ballots this election.

The charter amendment in Minneapolis, which passed with 53 percent of the vote, simply allows the City Council to enact rent control — a required step toward the measure because of a state law that requires rent control policies to be passed through voter referenda.

St. Paul’s rent stabilization measure also passed with 53 percent of voters approving. The ordinance, drafted by Housing Equity Now St. Paul (HENS) is much more specific than what voters passed in Minneapolis. It caps rent increases on rental units at 3 percent per year, exempting subsidized housing, and would allow for some to-be-determined variance process.

St. Paul, like many cities, has a housing shortage, and much of the housing that is available is increasingly unaffordable to renters. According to the Minnesota Housing Partnership, a housing research nonprofit, St. Paul’s median rent price rose 15 percent between 2000 and 2016, while median renter income barely increased.

Proponents of the rent control ordinance point to rental housing that is increasingly unaffordable for many St. Paul residents and offer limits on rent increases as a solution.

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Opponents of the rent control measure oppose government intervention in rent prices or say caps on rent will further harm affordability by disincentivizing the construction of more rental units.

School board

On Tuesday, voters elected two newcomers and re-elected two incumbents to the St. Paul school board.

Newcomers Halla Henderson and Uriah Ward, plus incumbent Jim Vue were top vote-getters in a race for four-year at-large seats on St. Paul’s school board.

With 57 percent of the votes, incumbent school board Chair Jeannie Foster beat Clayton Howatt in a bid to finish out the two remaining years in a term vacated by former at-large board member Steve Marchese.

St. Paul Public schools are facing revenue challenges and declining enrollment, which has prompted a contentious proposal to close five district schools and consolidate others.