St. Paul City Council member Melvin Carter III will face at least two challengers for his Ward 1 seat. Neighborhood activists Johnny Howard and Anthony J. Fernandez tell PIM that they intend to run against the first-term incumbent in November.
Howard is the former head of the Thomas Dale Block Club. He also founded and ran the Frogtown Football program for two decades. Last year he was controversially fired from the volunteer post. (See coverage of the dust-up in City Pages.) The Frogtown resident has twice previously run for city council as a DFLer.
Howard says he’s worried about the city’s seeming indifference towards building and improving rental properties. He also believes that the city’s Safety & Inspections Department lacks accountability. Howard proposes creating a civilian oversight board for the agency similar to that which scrutinizes police conduct.
“I’m just not happy at all,” Howard says. “I just don’t have a lot of confidence right now in the area’s leadership and representation.”
Fernandez works as a real estate agent and currently sits on the St. Paul Planning Commission. He previously served as chair of the District 7 Planning Council (now known as the Frogtown Neighborhood Association). He’s running as an independent.
Fernandez is very concerned about the looming construction of light rail on University Avenue and how zoning changes might harm existing business owners and residents. “That becomes worrisome for businesses that have been operating on the corridor for a lot longer than I’ve been around,” said Fernandez. “I really think somebody needs to stand up more for the businesses on University Avenue and the residents directly off of University Avenue.”
Carter won the seat four years ago by ousting incumbent Debbie Montgomery.