Twin Cities mayors tackle entrenched social problems

Mayor+of+Minneapolis+Jacob+Frey+and+Mayor+of+St.+Paul+Melvin+Carter--both+of+whom+sworn+into+office+last+January--represent++vanguards+for+social+change+in+the+Twin+Cities.+
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Twin Cities mayors tackle entrenched social problems

Mayor of Minneapolis Jacob Frey and Mayor of St. Paul Melvin Carter--both of whom sworn into office last January--represent  vanguards for social change in the Twin Cities.

Mayor of Minneapolis Jacob Frey and Mayor of St. Paul Melvin Carter--both of whom sworn into office last January--represent vanguards for social change in the Twin Cities.

Collage of images from mayor sites and Twitter accounts

Mayor of Minneapolis Jacob Frey and Mayor of St. Paul Melvin Carter--both of whom sworn into office last January--represent vanguards for social change in the Twin Cities.

Collage of images from mayor sites and Twitter accounts

Collage of images from mayor sites and Twitter accounts

Mayor of Minneapolis Jacob Frey and Mayor of St. Paul Melvin Carter--both of whom sworn into office last January--represent vanguards for social change in the Twin Cities.

Sam Hanson, RubicOnline Editor

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The new mayors of the Twin Cities—Melvin Carter of St. Paul and Jacob Frey of Minneapolis are young, and with this, comes a fresh and necessary perspective.

Take libraries: Carter’s decision to take away fees for overdue books represented a practical, common-sense change. Yet, it took a newcomer to take action and change tradition. Carter wanted to “bring families that have felt locked out of the library system back into a learning environment,” as he mentioned in a recent mayors breakfast.

Carter also has a fresh take on the job economy. For someone to be “economically included,” traditionally, they would only need to graduate high school and find a job. Despite a low unemployment rate of 2.8 percent in December 2018, according to the Office of Employment and Economic Development, Carter wants to provide government programs to those who are still “locked out of prosperity.” The $15 minimum wage and proposal for a $50 seed-fund college savings account are among Carter’s visions for St. Paul.

Triplexes are now able to be constructed virtually anywhere—a novel step that would provide affordable housing and accommodate growth. What’s more, Minneapolis is the first major city to adopt such change.”

Frey also seeks radical change: to confront the history and consequences of housing inequality in the Twin Cities. While it could be easy to take pride in the Twin Cities’ progressive history, Frey recognizes that segregation and housing discrimination still divide the community today. “It is that kind of intentional segregation that restrains our economic growth, prevents inclusion and hinders the exchange of ideas necessary for our modern day stories,” Frey said.  

With Frey’s guidance, Minneapolis has also broken ground in traditional thinking around zoning rules. Triplexes are now able to be constructed virtually anywhere—a novel step that would provide affordable housing and accommodate growth. What’s more, Minneapolis is the first major city to adopt such change.

The fresh perspectives of these two mayors also reflect an American electorate that is younger and more diverse. In the last midterms, thirty-one percent of voters between 18 and 29 voted, according to an estimate by The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. At St. Paul Academy and Summit School, this trend of youth engagement is particularly evident in the student involvement in gun violence protests and women’s marches. While these protests do not offer solutions to society’s ills, as argued in a recent opinion piece in February’s edition of The Rubicon, engaging in protest requires a desire to change the status quo. Without this internal drive for change, mayors such as Carter or Frey could have simply accepted the traditions and inequalities of the Twin Cities.

Not only have these young mayors revitalized the Twin Cities, they represent the sweeping force of youth engagement in politics.