Chris Tolbert, a member of the St. Paul City Council, has said he would not run for re-election in November, creating a fourth opening on the seven-member council.
Tolbert, who represents Macalester-Groveland and Highland Park, was chosen to office 11 years ago, and in 2023 he will complete his third four-year term. In a Facebook post announcing his decision to not run for re-election, he said that he had invested time in causes close to his heart, such as the city’s Right Track youth internship program and Full Stack St. Paul, a collaboration for business startups.
Tolbert has also held a commissioner position on the board of St. Paul Regional Water, a project that would replace lead pipes across St. Paul over a ten-year period.
Along with Tolbert, three other council members—Amy Brendmoen, Jane Prince, and Dai Thao—will not be up for election in the ranked-choice election of 2023, which means there won’t be a primary to narrow the field. Rebecca Noecker, Mitra Jalali, and Nelsie Yang, members of the council, have all announced that they are running for reelection.
Former Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party finance director Tyler Blackmon indicated he was “seriously contemplating a candidacy” and would decide by Christmas. Blackmon, a student at the University of Minnesota Law School who anticipates graduating in 2024, said, “I just need to make sure it’s the correct option for me and my family.”
Brendmoen’s former legislative assistant HwaJeong Kim, a charity director, intends to compete for the Ward 5 seat covering the North End and Como Park.
Two contenders have formally declared themselves for the Ward 7 seat now held by Prince. In addition, Pa Der Vang is an associate professor of social work at St. Catherine University. Cheniqua Johnson served as an assistant to former U.S. Representative Keith Ellison and Hennepin County Commissioner Angela Conley.
Omar Syed, a Summit-University resident and the owner of Chilly Time Coffee on Afton Road, has declared he would compete in the Ward 1 election. Syed said on Thursday, “We’re in, 100 percent.” “We have already begun our campaign.”
Anika Bowie, a first-time candidate in 2019, narrowly missed capturing the Ward 1 seat previously held by Thao (who resigned this year to go to Florida) by 300 votes (out of more than 6,000 votes cast). Bowie entered the four-person campaign unsupported by organized labor, the St. Paul DFL, or any significant political organizations. Bowie said she will formally declare her candidacy in January and showed interest in running again on Thursday.
In a brief interview, Tolbert stated that having a 1-year-old kid and working as a lawyer had kept him quite busy. Although both Tolbert and Brendmoen, the current council president, are widely regarded as possible contenders for higher office, he remained silent regarding his future political aspirations.
Tolbert said, “Amy and I, we don’t sit still very well. “I’m sure there will be additional opportunities to help our community after another year on the council. Future prospects and challenges are exciting to me.