On Tuesday, St. Louis voters will go to the polls to select their nominee for mayor. But in the Democratic mayoral primary, former Alderman Jimmie Matthews sometimes seems the odd man out. Unlike his two opponents -- incumbent Mayor Francis Slay and Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed -- he hasn't solicited any campaign donations, and he hasn't spent much money on the race either. That's led some to speculate that he isn't a serious candidate, that he's only in the race to take votes from Reed.
But from Matthews' perspective, there's no difference between Slay and Reed.
Matthews: They’ve been together for 12 years. What they’re going through is a divorce. They’re paid by the same folks. And the Board of Estimate and Apportionment works together with the mayor, he controls the other two members, he controls the Board of Alderman to pass legislation.
You bring up campaign donations. Now you haven’t accepted any campaign donations. So how are you campaigning in this race for the past couple of months?
Matthews: I’m making personal contacts with the voters. I’m not sending anybody out there, I’m not paying anybody. I tell people I give them my literature and I ask them to pass it along to relatives and things like that. Word of mouth: faster than the Internet. People tell somebody to tell somebody to tell somebody about Matthews.I was talking to a lady, and she was looking at the TV and she said, “Oh, I’ve met him I’ve seen him at one of the fast food places.”
There are some -- your opponent, Lewis Reed, for example -- who say you’re a stalking horse candidate, here only to increase Slay’s chances of winning. What’s your response to that?
Matthews: I thought that was ridiculous. I spent all that money to run. Being a preacher, I can’t harbor hate or envy or jealousy. I want to be the mayor of the city of St. Louis. If he wants to get out, that’s fine with me. But I’m not getting out. If 60 thousand people come out to vote and 20 thousand votes come to me I will win this election by the people’s vote, not by the money that’s in the campaign.
Note: If you're interested in reporting on campaign finance in this race, visit here.
Let’s say you do win on Tuesday, and then you later do win the general election. What’s the first change you make in City Hall?
Matthews: First thing I start dealing with is homeless issues -- try to make sure those people aren’t suffering unnecessarily. One thing I’d like to do is create a homeless village -- I’m not talking about tents or anything like that, I’m talking about housing. We had a development in the city called Laclede Town, it was a real town. We want to provide schools, skill centers and we also want to develop a commercial district. So we need to share the wealth with the region, with everybody. Not just the city, but the county and be a real regional state.
Note: This is the first of three stories on the candidates in the Democratic primary. On Monday, we will have stories on both Slay and Reed.
Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel