Toni Carter is the incumbent candidate for the District 4 Commissioner seat, and she has served since 2005. As commissioner, she has led the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, St. Paul Children’s Collaborative, and the Everybody In Collaborative to end racial disparities. She advocates for expanded and community-centered light rail transit to provide better access to jobs and other resources.

Prior to her current office, Carter worked as a teacher, an IBM systems engineer, marketing representative and systems support manager, and communications and arts consultant. She also has acted in Penumbra Theatre productions. Carter is the first black person to serve on a county board in Minnesota.


Has focused on juvenile justice and jail alternatives for low-risk youth offenders, including spearheading efforts to develop mentoring programs and assuring that social workers assigned to families in the corrections system are spending enough time with them.
Source: Governing, 2016

According to Annie E. Casey Foundation: With the county’s Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI), Carter has spearheaded dramatic drops in the use of detention and out-of-home placements for youth in Ramsey County. Carter allocated $1.1 million in county funds to support this initiative within the county as well as six other jurisdictions in Minnesota.
Source: Anne E. Casey Foundation Blog

Signed 2016 letter to Congress in support of Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, a bill that would reduce mandatory minimum sentences, limit solitary confinement, and introduce other prison and law enforcement reforms.
Source: Senate Judiciary Committee

Brought to County Board resolution honoring Art Blakely, who according to the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, is directly responsible for the employment of almost 30 percent of the officers and deputies of color who serve in the metro area.
Source: Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, 4/3/18

Advocates for decriminalizing mental illness: “Jail is jail. … It is not a mental health treatment facility … Generally, they come out worse than when they entered. … We have criminalized mental illness.”
Source: Pew Trusts, 5/19/15

Stated that actions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) undermine trust in the government, and stated commitment to connecting immigrants and refugees with county services. “The actions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in the past week undermine this sense of trust and credibility in our justice system, while also fraying relationships between the federal government, local law enforcement and judicial officers.”
Source: Commissioner Toni Carter Facebook page, 8/6/18

Voted for 1,400+ unit Arden Hills redevelopment project, saying that while affordable housing and transit goals weren’t specified, they were understood to be important and could be championed by the board in the future.
Source: Pioneer Press via Alatus, 12/20/16

At affordable housing rally at Capitol stated Ramsey County and St. Paul have expanded efforts to keep residents in stable housing, and provide transitional living space for homeless and highly mobile persons: “A family that is not housed cannot support children to go to school, to learn or to grow up safe.”
Source: Kare 11, 2/8/18

Voted to approve $1.7 million for Dorothy Day center expansion: “Although homelessness is a statewide issue, it is borne heavily by metro counties.”
Source: MinnPost

Voted for property tax break for Minnesota United soccer stadium.
Source: Star Tribune, 9/8/15

Voted for property tax break for a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills, stating that while the stadium itself would be exempt from property taxes, it could spur adjacent tax-generating private development.
Source: Vadnais Heights Press, 2/8/11

Advocate for the construction of Metro Green Line, St. Paul’s Central Corridor light rail transit. “There’s something about light rail that draws people on to explore and learn more about other people, communities, and cultures.”
Source: Twin Cities Daily Planet, 7/25/14

Voted to ban the use of e-cigarettes in public spaces
Source: Pioneer Press, 9/22/15

Signed letter to the legislature as part of Coalition Against Bigger Trucks
Source: Goodhue County

Voted for Ramsey/Washington Counties’ ownership of Newport trash-processing facility. Public ownership was said to help Ramsey and Washington Counties achieve their goal of recycling 75 percent of their waste by 2030; environmental groups said it would give financial incentive to permanent garbage burning.
Source: Woodbury Bulletin, 6/5/15

Credited with leadership on bike lanes on Cleveland Avenue.
Source: St. Paul Smart Trips, 5/16

“In the long run, we have the responsibility to create institutions that are actively listening, creating space for female officials and minorities. … Our way of listening has to change.”
Source: New York Times, 10/27/16

Voted for 2008 resolution for Ramsey County sexual violence prevention plan.
State of Minnesota Health Department, 3/11/08

Voted to oppose voter ID amendment.
Source: Pioneer Press, 10/8/12

Testified before state legislature in favor of repealing random drug testing for welfare recipients with drug felony convictions.
Source: Washington Times, 3/24/14

Transit officials initially set a minority hiring goal of 11 percent for the Green Line. The community, along with Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter, successfully pushed for 18 percent and, with the support of a coalition called Hire Minnesota, the Green Line met and in some instances exceeded their goal.
Source: PolicyLink


The Twin Cities Daily Planet is a flagship media arts project of Twin Cities Media Alliance that amplifies and connects marginalized voices; this voter guide is an extension of the Daily Planet elections coverage. Every year we’re moving towards a possibility of a more diverse legislature. And with it, we hope comes increased opportunities for communities historically shut out of political processes and power to imagine and enact policies to create a Minnesota that benefits all its constituents.