Melvin Carter is a fourth-generation Saint Paul resident, Saint Paul Public School graduate, former Saint Paul City Councilmember, father, and candidate for Saint Paul’s next Mayor. He lives in Saint Paul’s Rondo neighborhood with his wife, Sakeena, and three of their five children.
Melvin’s Saint Paul story began a century ago, when his great-grandparents came here fleeing racial violence in Paris, Texas to the promise for a better life in Saint Paul. He is the son of a police officer and a teacher (who later became a County Commissioner), both of whom instilled in him the value of community and public service.
Melvin’s passion for civic engagement began in 2000, when as a college student his brother-in-law was turned away from casting an all-important Presidential election ballot in a Florida polling precinct. After arguing for his brother-in-law’s right to vote and protesting that year’s historic acts of disenfranchisement in the Florida State Capitol, Melvin found himself on a path toward public service.
Since then, Melvin has been working to engage, enfranchise, and uplift people in Saint Paul and across the state and nation. He’s trained political candidates, community organizers and campaign staff in over 30 states with several national organizations, including Wellstone Action.
Melvin currently serves as Executive Director of the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet, advising Governor Mark Dayton on early childhood policy and advocating for critical investments in all-day Kindergarten, universally accessible Pre-K, home visiting, and more inclusive, culturally competent classrooms to make sure every Minnesota kid has access to the same foundational education opportunities regardless of race, gender, background, or income.
Prior to joining state government, Melvin served on the Saint Paul City Council from 2008 to 2013, serving as the vice chair of the Council for most of that time. Melvin served Saint Paul’s Ward 1 during the lows of the recession, when hundreds of his constituents were threatened with the loss of their jobs, homes, and stability.
As city councilmember, he championed policies to address some of the city’s most pressing issues, including:
- Fought for additional Green Line stops in Frogtown to make sure the line worked for the neighborhood and its residents
- Founded the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhod, a community collaboration to level the playing field for low-income kids and families
- Formed the city’s Department of Human Rights & Equal Economic Opportunity (HREEO)
- Rewrote the city’s guidelines on use of force for tasers
- Helped pass statewide Ban the Box legislation to eliminate employment discrimination against people with criminal backgrounds
- Required landlords to notify tenants of a pending foreclosure
- Created the city’s affordable housing trust fund
Melvin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in business administration from Florida A&M University and a Master of Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.
Melvin enjoys running, (though he’s not nearly as fast as he used to be), walking or biking to community events with his family, practicing piano, and eating at Saint Paul’s finest restaurants and watering holes.