St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed is hoping the second time is the charm.
Reed announced on Tuesday morning that he would join the wide-open scramble to be St. Louis’ mayor. The three-term Democratic citywide officeholder ran for the post in 2013 and lost to Mayor Francis Slay.
Reed, who previously served as an alderman in the 6th Ward, said he’s running for mayor again because “a lot of the things that at least I would want to do, that power rests in the hands of the executive branch of government.”
“When I look at it, as a father of four and then raising two young sons in the city of St. Louis, I know what I want for my family,” Reed said. “And there are families all over the city that want the same things that I do. I can deliver those things. I believe that when we look at resources within that executive branch and if we do a top-down approach in terms of reorganizing the departments where they can better serve the residents of the city of St. Louis, I think we’re going to all benefit from it.”
Reed said the 2017 campaign will be a lot different than his previous bid. He said he’ll be better organized and more prepared for what’s ahead. Since Slay isn’t running for a fifth term, Reed added that he won’t be facing an incumbent with a huge financial advantage.
“You look across the field of anybody that’s running in this race, nobody is out there with 100 percent name recognition – and nobody’s going to have $3.9 million,” said Reed, adding that he doubts anybody in the field will grab as many endorsements that Slay received. “We’re coming into this race as the clear front-runner in the race when you look at the ability to have a citywide footprint, name recognition and a solid group of supporters in every single corridor of the city.”
Alderman Lyda Krewson, D-28th Ward, announced her mayoral bid earlier this year. Other potential candidates include: city Treasurer Tishaura Jones; Collector of Revenue Gregory F.X. Daly; Alderman Antonio French, D-21st Ward; and Police Chief Sam Dotson.
Focus on crime
As was the case in 2013, Reed said one of his big focuses would be combating crime. He said that has to be a priority of any mayoral contender because “it is tearing St. Louis apart.”
“For years, we’ve talked about the perception of crime greatly outpacing the actual crime itself,” Reed said. “And now, we’re seeing the murder rates growing at such an alarming rate that it is scary. People are getting shot and killed in every corridor of the city. It used to be isolated in one corridor; now it’s everywhere. So my number one priority will be to address that.”
When it comes to Dotson's performance as police chief, Reed said his potential mayoral rival has made some strategic errors, including creating new districts. He added “there are a lot of challenges there, and I don’t see where he’s met the mark.”
Reed said the next mayor has to have a “multi-pronged approach to it,” adding that “you can’t do it by saying you’re just going to add more police officers … problem’s fixed.” By addressing public safety with more police officers, youth programs and nonprofit coordination, Reed said the city will “naturally see an increase in jobs and a decrease in unemployment,” as well as children doing better in school.
“It is a very complex thing, and I’ve been down there long enough to know how to address that directly,” Reed said. “You can address that directly from the mayor’s office. And one of my number one priorities will be to do that.”
While Slay was a strong supporter of some sort of merger with St. Louis County, Reed said the city and county should enter into partnerships before going through with anything more expansive.
“We have some serious problems in the city related to the shootings and the things of that nature that… merging with the county is just not going to fix,” Reed said. “We have to be very, very focused on solidifying our community and making our community healthy. And the county has a lot of work in and of itself. I mean, all the municipalities out there – they have to decide on whether to work together also.”
The road ahead
Reed has about $204,000 in the bank – a decent starting point for a race that will get very expensive. But he’s faced criticism from some on the leftward side of the political spectrum: He got into a very public spat with Alderman Megan Green over a stadium proposal. And he had to issue an apology after appearing on a radio show where the host slung misogynistic insults toward Green.
Some of Reed’s adversaries pointed to these instances in the run up to his mayoral bid announcement. When asked how that would affect his latest race, Reed said “it’s going to have little to no effect on the campaign.”
“What that shows you is that in terms of candidates, I’m the biggest threat to any of them,” Reed said. “So that’s why they are attacking me relentlessly. And it has not made a change.”
When asked how he would stand out in what could be a crowded field of candidates, Reed said, “I’ve been very consistent in working with the residents to try to get the people what they need.”
“I came into public service because I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives,” Reed said. “If we are looking to unify our city and truly take advantage of the rich cultural diversity that exists in the city of St. Louis, I’m the candidate to do that.”