Ousted Frogtown Football coach Johnny Howard has announced a bid to unseat St. Paul Ward 1 City Councilmember Melvin Carter. He says rehabbing rental properties and creating an oversight board for St. Paul's department of public safety will be among the priorities emphasized in his campaign.
"I don't think [Carter's] been responsive," says Howard. "I just think good leaders listen. They listen and they act. And I don't think he's acting."[jump]
Howard is a familiar face in Frogtown. More than 20 years ago, he helped organize the Thomas-Dale Block Club, an aggressive crime-deterring group dedicated to cleaning up the troubled neighborhood.
He also founded a youth sports program designed to keep kids off the streets, called the Frogtown Football League.
Frogtown Football turned out to be a big success. That's why Howard was so mad last August when the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department told him to take a hike. "I got pissed," Howard told City Pages after the ousting. "I just got completely upset. I felt really disrespected and discounted."
Losing his job with Frogtown Football set the wheels in motion for his City Council campaign. After word spread that Howard would no longer coach, calls began pouring in from other residents urging him to run for office.
"I got tons of phone calls after that," he says. "But what I struggled with is that I couldn't let that be my only reason for running, because that would be too personal."
Howard says he then began noticing all the city-funded construction projects designed to build owner-occupied homes. He thought some of that money should be redirected to rental projects, and decided he would be the man to do something about it.
Though Frogtown Football isn't the only he is running, it's clear that Howard still harbors some negative feelings about how he lost his job as head coach.
"Once I get into office, no one will ever be treated like that again on my watch," says Howard.