William Finney, the former St. Paul police chief often known as “Corky,” will be appointed to the St. Paul City Council on an interim basis, filling the seat from the East Side that became open when Kathy Lantry took a job as head of the Public Works Department.
A council committee that selected Finney interviewed four other candidates for the interim job. The full council is expected to finalize the appointment in two weeks.
Finney was the first African-American police chief in Minnesota when he served as the city’s top cop from 1992 to 2004. Starting March 4, he’ll serve the remaining 10 months of Lantry’s term and has agreed not to run for the seat in the November election.
Finney, who is very popular in the city, has a history of coming in off the bench: in 2005 he was appointed to a temporary spot on the St. Paul School Board to replace Toni Carter, who’d been elected to the Ramsey County Board. (Finney had also been elected to the school board in the late 1980s.)
Finney lost a close and bitter race in 2006, when he challenged incumbent Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher for the top county law enforcement spot. Fletcher was defeated four years later by Matt Bostrom, an assistant chief in the SPPD.
Lantry announced last year that she wouldn’t seek a fifth term as the 7th Ward council member and it was widely assumed that she’d run for mayor in 2017, so it was a bit of a surprise last month when Mayor Chris Coleman appointed her public works director, effective March 1.
The other candidates interviewed for the interim council job were: former City Council Member Tom Dimond; Sarah Lechowich, a faculty member at North Hennepin Community College; Mary Petrie, who teaches at Inver Hills Community College; and Andrew Trcka, who works for MnDOT.
Mayor Coleman said of Finney’s pending appointment to the council:
“I look forward to the opportunity to work with former St. Paul Police Chief William Finney as council member for the Seventh Ward. Having known Chief Finney for more than 20 years, I’m confident in his ability to do great work for the City of Saint Paul.”