Melvin Carter sworn in as St. Paul mayor for a second four-year term

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Jan. 3—Four years after being elected the city's first Black mayor and one of its youngest, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter was sworn into his second term on Monday against the wintry backdrop of a frozen Como Lake and a city still in recovery from riot and pandemic.

The mayor, in his inauguration speech, said the COVID-19 public health crisis and the 2020 riots following the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer, underscored the need to adopt progressive new approaches to government service. Carter highlighted his efforts to open college savings accounts for 6,000 St. Paul newborns to date, launch a $500 monthly "guaranteed income" pilot project for 150 St. Paul families and forgive library fines for all residents with overdue books.

Carter, while predicting better days ahead for real estate development, says the strength of the city isn't defined by the skyline but by the chances we secure for our children. pic.twitter.com/7VH50Yr7GU

— Frederick Melo, Reporter (@FrederickMelo) January 3, 2022

"The promise of government for the people can only be realized in a city where the voices of the vulnerable ring every bit as powerfully as the petitions of the privileged," Carter told the audience, as he highlighted the city's $15 minimum wage ladder, ongoing efforts at re-imagining public safety response and a burgeoning rent control effort.

Not all of the mayor's initiatives have taken root. In June, the city council repealed the wide-ranging S.A.F.E. Housing ordinance, a raft of tenants' rights protections, after a federal judge found that the rules likely amounted to an unconstitutional taking of private property under the law.

The mayor, in a brief question and answer session with the media afterward, said rather than highlight new initiatives, he would use the months ahead to "institutionalize" existing programs, some of which had been propped up in recent months by federal pandemic relief dollars.

"Primarily, it's making sure we get through this pandemic," the mayor said. "We have a lot of work to do to get people back to work, to ensure that our students are stable, to continue to advance our public safety framework, and to continue to advance the housing work that we have in front of us, including ironing things out around the rent stabilization ordinance."

Nothing new happened in 2020, says the mayor. And here's what he means: pic.twitter.com/hDxhDt1DZN

— Frederick Melo, Reporter (@FrederickMelo) January 3, 2022

In addition to his wife, Sakeena Futrell-Carter, and children, Carter was joined in the outdoor inauguration by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, former St. Paul Mayor Jim Scheibel, Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter, City Council President Amy Brendmoen and council members Jane Prince, Rebecca Noecker and Mitra Jalali, among other elected officials. The event was broadcast live on the city's Facebook page, where U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan contributed prepared remarks by pre-recorded video.

The oath of office was administered by Ramsey County Judge Sophia Vuelo, the first Hmong-American judge appointed in Minnesota and the first female Hmong-American judge in the U.S.

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