Melvin Carter is a fourth-generation Saint Paul resident, Central High School graduate, former Saint Paul City Councilmember, father, and candidate for Saint Paul’s next Mayor.

Melvin’s Saint Paul story began a century ago, when his great-grandparents came here as domestic refugees from one of the most violently racist towns in 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 organizing 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. 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 essential investments for kids and families.

Prior to joining state government, Melvin served on the Saint Paul City Council from 2008 to 2013. 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:

  • Organizing community stakeholders along the Green Line LRT to secure more equitable, neighborhood-focused outcomes
  • Leading the effort to establish Saint Paul’s Promise Neighborhood, a zone focused on providing wraparound early childhood services for some of Saint Paul’s most vulnerable families
  • Forming the city’s Department of Human Rights & Equal Economic Opportunity (HREEO)
  • Banning the Box to eliminate employment discrimination against people with criminal backgrounds
  • Requiring landlords to notify tenants of a pending foreclosure
  • Advocating for the creation of a citywide 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), attending his daughters’ gymnastic meets, taking piano lessons from his grandfather, and eating at Saint Paul’s finest restaurants and watering holes.