Letters: Criminal histories, historic discrimination and second chances in St. Paul

Candid and qualified

We write in support of Tarrence Robertson-Bayless for Ward 4 St. Paul City Council. The piece in Sunday’s Pioneer Press titled “A look at the criminal histories of candidates for St. Paul City Council” is accurate.

At a public meeting we attended weeks ago, Tarrence detailed his troubled past as part of shaping the person he became today. He also candidly spoke about these tribulations during both televised Ward 4 candidate debates. Each time Tarrence has movingly told of his reform at the age of 21,  and his record of achievement and public service since that time has been extraordinary.

If our public, private, religious faith, and forgiveness of people deserving  a second chance has any meaning, that applies here.  We wholeheartedly reaffirm our endorsement of Tarrence Robertson-Bayless.

George Latimer and Ruby Hunt, St. Paul
Latimer is a former St. Paul mayor. Hunt is a former St. Paul City Council and Ramsey County Commission member.


Where has the Pioneer Press been?

It broke my heart to read “A look at the criminal histories of candidates for St. Paul City Council” to see how the Pioneer Press decided to introduce my smart and courageous opponent Kartumu King to its readers.

Ms. King’s reduced plea agreement and a settled eviction led off a story detailing past criminal histories of predominantly candidates of color, along with reminding us of charges against my colleague Councilmember Dai Thao which were either dropped or for which he was acquitted.

This fall’s municipal election is historic:  Every City Council incumbent has multiple challengers. And this is the year that providing detailed criminal histories is the way that the Pioneer Press chose to introduce most of these candidates to its readers for the very first time?

Ms. King made no excuses — none of these candidates did.  However, it is worth noting the sad reality of St. Paul in which people who are different from our historic white middle class — refugees, immigrants, people of color, GLBTQ people — have endured poverty, discrimination, trauma and criminalization at much higher rates than the rest of us.

Where has the Pioneer Press been, in our efforts as a community to reverse these wrongs?

Jane L. Prince, St. Paul
The author represents Ward 7 on the St. Paul City Council

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