St. Louis's Democratic battle between incumbent Mayor Francis Slay and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed is now official -- both candidates filed for the March primary this morning.
Slay has never lost a race, and he's taking this challenge seriously. In fact, Slay says he's had paid employees and volunteers standing in line to hold his spot for filing since Sept. 24.
Slay says he wants another term in order to continue improving education and public safety in the city, and points to the recent passage of local control of the police department.
But Slay says he's concerned the campaign will be about a different issue.
"I am concerned that my opponent will play the race card and otherwise be divisive in this campaign," Slay said. "I never have and I won't be involved in that kind of effort."
Slay adds that he has the endorsements of several African-American leaders, like Congressman Lacy Clay and County Executive Charlie Dooley.
But Reed says he hopes this campaign won't be about race, but instead be about job growth and Mayor Slay's record.
"When we lead with that (race), we lower the bar in terms of the level of discussions that would help move our community forward," Reed said.
Slay is seeking a fourth term, which would make him the longest serving mayor in the history of the city. But Reed says Slay hasn't earned it.
"If you're running for an unprecedented fourth term, your legacy to that point should be such that it warrants it," Reed said.
Reed criticizes Slay for the city's poor job growth and says he'll release his full platform later in the week. But Slay says the economy is moving in the right direction.
"These are still tough economic times, but the economy seems like it's starting to improve a little bit," Slay said.
The two candidates are joined by former Alderman Jimmie Matthews.
The Democratic primary in March will most likely determine the next mayor, as St. Louis is safely Democratic.
Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel
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