Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter won't seek re-election

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Jan. 20—Longtime Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter said Wednesday that she will not seek reelection in the fall.

Carter, whose District 4 encompasses several St. Paul neighborhoods, was first elected to the Board of Commissioners in 2005 and served as its chair for the past two years. The first African American to win a county board seat in Minnesota, she is also the mother of St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter III and husband of former St. Paul police Sgt. Melvin Carter Jr.

"After much deliberation, I have decided to make this year my last as County Commissioner," Carter said in a Facebook post.

"I am particularly thankful to have served as Board Chair through a tumultuous era which has rendered county systems and services more relevant and needed than ever," she wrote. "While punctuated by the ongoing pandemic, worldwide racial reckoning and intense social unrest, these past two years have also proven to accelerate our work of ushering forth a community-engaged framework for inclusive and equitable economic growth."

During her time on the board, Carter helped shape the Green Line light-rail project, which runs through her district along University Avenue, seeing it as an opportunity to further revitalize the corridor.

As a member of the Metropolitan Council's Central Corridor Management Committee, she was one of a handful of public officials who successfully advocated for the addition of light rail stops at Western Avenue, Victoria Street and Hamline Avenue, which were left out of the original plan.

Carter also serves on the Minnesota Human Services Performance Council, which is tasked with monitoring and improving delivery of state services to counties, and the Ramsey County Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative Stakeholder Committee.

In her Facebook post, Carter reflected on her tenure on the board: "The body of work we have delivered together is humbling — reducing youth detention center admissions and correctional out-of-home displacements by 85% and 74% respectively, establishing unprecedented housing supports for our lowest income residents, building Rondo Plaza, rebuilding the Dale Street bridge, and ensuring our Green Line LRT stops for all of us, all stand out as indicators of our countywide focus on equity and inclusion, and of our work to apply a community-engaged, data-driven equity lens across all county systems."

Carter, who grew up in Cleveland, moved to Minnesota in 1971 to attend Carleton College in Northfield. She left a career as a systems engineer after 15 years at IBM in Minneapolis for a second act in public service in the early 1990s.

Before winning her seat on the County Board, she worked as a teacher at Crosswinds Middle School and was elected in 2001 to the St. Paul school board, where she also served as chair.