Mayor-elect Melvin Carter.
In January it will be less cumbersome to say when he is sworn in to become St. Paul, Minnesota’s next Mayor.
He will no longer be the elected.
He will be the inaugurated.
Mayor Melvin Carter.
In July of 2016, in this blog post http://mischellaneous.com/2016/07/14/st-pauls-next-mayor-not-another-white-guy I wrote:
“Since its incorporation in 1854 the City of St. Paul has had 54 Mayors.
All of them men.
All of them white.”
St. Paul’s 55th Mayor will be Mayor Melvin Carter.
An African American man.
Thirty-eight years old. Husband. Father. 4th generation son and citizen of St. Paul.
I didn’t vote for Melvin Carter. I voted for Pat Harris.
My vote for Pat Harris was not a vote against Melvin Carter. Nor was it a vote against Tom Goldstein, Dai Thao or anyone else running for St. Paul Mayor.
The moment it was concluded that Melvin Carter was elected things changed.
Pat Harris may have been my candidate for Mayor.
Melvin Carter will now be my Mayor.
Mayor Melvin Carter.
Pat Harris, will continue to do great acts of mercy and compassion for this community and the world around him. All those reasons I chose to support his candidacy have not been diminished simply because he did not win an election.
I have never been one to believe that when someone I did not support for public office is elected that they are not my elected representative in government.
Nor do I care to see those elected, even if they were elected without my vote, not be successful in their role in government.
Like the young African American President before him the young African American Mayor of St. Paul is going to enter office with great energy, enthusiasm and promise.
He is also going to enter that office with burdens that the previous 54 Mayors never had to deal with simply because of the color of his skin.
It is, wrong, of course, to burden this young, new Mayor with expectations and obligations and prejudices that have nothing to do with his ability to lead and everything to do with the color of his skin.
There will be those in this community who reject him outright because he is black.
That, of course, is also wrong.
I woke up Wednesday morning and proudly declared to my 17-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter that St. Paul had made history by electing its first African American Mayor.
“Wow, that’s cool.”
Yes, it is cool.
It is also about time.
Even if I did not vote for Melvin Carter for Mayor.
The tides of change in American life and politics can move slowly, or quickly, depending on the moment in time in our history.
The election of Melvin Carter as Mayor took far too long, nearly 164 years too long, but I suspect the impact of Mayor Melvin Carter in St. Paul, and our country, will be felt far more quickly.
It is not my job, nor duty, to offer advice to Mayor-elect Melvin Carter on how to lead St. Paul forward.
He ran on his platform and he won on that platform.
He is surrounded by those who will do their best to help him succeed and others who he will turn to for counsel and wisdom throughout his four years as Mayor.
I pray they serve him well in the roles in supporting him and his efforts to lead St. Paul into the future.
As I often share with my children my time as a leader in government and politics is behind me.
At 54 years old I no longer represent the future.
At 38 years old Melvin Carter represents the future.
He is the reflection of the hopes and dreams of a new generation of St. Paul citizens.
My children among them.
While Melvin Carter may reflect the fulfilled hopes and dreams of generations before him he should not spend his time feeling obligated to their time or generation.
Their time, like my time, has passed.
The years have taken their toll on this 54-year-old mind and body.
The gray hair, the wrinkles and the thick waist join with creaky joints, memory lapses and blurry eyesight to remind me that things change.
They always change.
In my lifetime I believe they have changed far more often for the better
Sometimes the change for the better happened overnight.
Sometimes it takes 54 years.
St. Paul’s Mayor.