On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome Alderman-elect John Collins-Muhammad for the first time.
Collins-Muhammad will soon represent the city’s 21st Ward, which takes in parts of the north St. Louis neighborhoods of College Hill, Kingsway East, North Riverfront, O’Fallon and Penrose. After Alderman Antonio French vacated his seat to run for mayor, Collins-Muhammad won a three-way Democratic primary, and then won easily in the general election.
The 25-year-old has charted out a professional career in local government and political activism. He was the chief clerk of Uplands Park, a village (pop. 447) in north St. Louis County, for about a year. He also worked as an organizer for the AFL-CIO.
This was Collins-Muhammad’s second bid for elected office. Last year, he ran for the 77th District House seat, but lost in the Democratic primary to state Rep. Steve Roberts Jr., by less than 700 votes.
His aldermanic primary win was the closest of the evening, topping Laura Keys by 29 votes. And while some St. Louis aldermanic candidates raised tens of thousands of dollars, Collins-Muhammad spent less than $1,500. He received assistance from Mobilize Missouri, a group full of activists who took part in Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
- Later this month, he will be one of six new people to be sworn into the Board of Aldermen. He’s hoping the group will provide a fresh perspective on some of the issues that are afflicting the city. “We have all had conversations, collectively and individually about how we want to see the Board of Aldermen move forward,” he said.
- He also said he’s not in favor of hiring more police officers, a major priority for Mayor-elect Lyda Krewson. Instead, he says there needs to be a focus on forging better relationships between African-Americans and law enforcement. “Even for a young black man or a young black woman, when you see a cop — you don’t see skin color. All you see is the badge,” he said. “That automatically creates a bridge or a disconnect. And we have to learn how to bridge that disconnect.”
- Collins-Muhammad is hoping that Krewson pours her energy into turning around parts of north St. Louis, a largely African-American area that’s struggled with high crime rates and vacant buildings. “Lyda has the opportunity — has a chance to do something that has not been done in the last 16 years – and that’s being a mayor for both sides of Delmar, be a mayor for north city constituents and residents,” he said.
Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum
Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies
Follow John Collins-Muhammad: @JOHNMUHAMMADJR
Music: “Regret” by St. Vincent