Unanimous candidate commitments to dedicating funds for immigrant legal defense, passing a $15 minimum wage

Sunday evening, October 17, people of faith and clergy of ISAIAH hosted the largest mayoral forum in Saint Paul this election season. They engaged the candidates on their visions for mass incarceration, immigration and raising the minimum wage.

Nearly 300 people gathered at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in St. Paul prepared to hear the candidates’ responses to questions on these three major issues tied to their core values and faith agenda. Eight of the 10 mayoral candidates were present at the forum, including Melvin Carter, Trahern Crews, Elizabeth Dickinson, Tom Goldstein, Pat Harris, Tim Holden, Dai Thao, and Barnabas Y’Shua.

Rev. Jim Erlandson opened the forum referencing sacred scripture grounded in faith and God’s decree to care for others. For him and others in the room, engaging local, state and national officials is about strengthening democracy where all people are able to co-govern. ISAIAH’s recent launch of “Claiming Our Voices” has set us on a path of building a state-wide faith agenda by engaging over 5,000 people of faith.

“Today we’ve gathered here to learn about the each candidate’s stance on racial and economic justice issues such as $15 minimum wage, mass incarceration and immigration,” said Erlandson. “We will also prepare ourselves to build the kind of power necessary to lead an agenda around racial and economic justice at the city and state level. This is an act of deep faith and requires accountability and partnership with the next mayor of Saint Paul.”

Haywood Kemp, a member of Camphor United Methodist Church, told his story of being incarcerated at a young age and the impact it has had on him and his family. “Even though I was able to make it out of the system and go on to get my degree in criminal justice, that is not the usual path for so many black people in this country or this city,” Kemp commented. “My question for the candidates is this: If you are elected Mayor, what specific investments will you make in programs that provide alternatives to incarceration and programs to support re-entry and second chances to ensure that Saint Paul is doing what it can to lead to dismantle the system of mass incarceration?”

Each candidate was given the opportunity to answer this question along with the questions of “If you are elected Mayor, will you commit $100,000 to an immigrant legal defense fund and press Ramsey County to set up a bigger fund?” and “If you are elected Mayor, will you support us in passing a $15 minimum wage ordinance by the end of 2018? If so, how will you work with us to do this.”

All of the candidates answered that they would commit to the $100,000 immigrant legal defense fund, with a few pushing for more. Likewise, they also committed to the passing of a $15 minimum wage ordinance, adding their own nuances to the details of how to get there.

They were all also asked by Arline Datu, an ISAIAH faith leader who was in the center of the fight and win for one of the strongest sick time policies in the country in the city of Saint Paul, “if you are elected Mayor, will you agree to meet with ISAIAH-St. Paul on a regular basis starting Saturday, February 24, 2018, from 10am – 12pm?” Each candidate, for this question, answered in the affirmative.


To see and hear the answers to the additional questions, please see the forum in its entirety at the links below.

Opening: https://www.facebook.com/ISAIAHMN/?hc_ref=ARRilAirwClSQMAGmDSTm2-5EpI2OrDnoKh6mG0Yz_eYD4T6wyGZ_vrk_Ln9UVPH0mM&fref=nf

Mayoral Answers: https://www.facebook.com/ISAIAHMN/?hc_ref=ARRilAirwClSQMAGmDSTm2-5EpI2OrDnoKh6mG0Yz_eYD4T6wyGZ_vrk_Ln9UVPH0mM&fref=nf