St. Louis License Collector Race Flies Under The Radar
In August, two Democrats will meet in a relatively low-key primary to head an office that oversees between $50 million and $60 million each year. St. Louis' license collector is charged with collecting several taxes and issuing business licenses.
Two Democrats are vying for the office. The winner in the Aug. 5 primary will take on the Green Party candidate in November.
Mavis Thompson is the incumbent in the race, although this is her first time running for the position. Gov. Jay Nixon appointed her to the office in October 2013, when incumbent Michael McMillan left to head the St. Louis Urban League.
Previously, Thompson was the circuit clerk for the 22nd Judicial Circuit and an assistant attorney general for Medicaid Fraud Control.
In an interview, Thompson said she is proud of what her office has done in the months she has been in office.
"We set priorities, that was a change. We didn't have priorities set before my administration," Thompson said. "The other thing we've done is employee development. We make sure that every single employee has gone to customer service training, so we can give the best customer service to those coming in to our office for services."
She says she has also made the office more inclusive -- putting out pamphlets on the license collector office in Bosnian, Vietnamese, Spanish and braille.
But other politicians had expressed interest in the appointment, notably her primary opponent: Alderman Jeffrey Boyd.
Boyd has been the 22nd Ward alderman since 2003. Before that, Boyd served in the army for 23 years.
He says his experience on the Board of Alderman prepared him for the job, particularly because he "has sat on almost every committee. One of the most (important) committees being Ways and Means," Boyd said. "I understand the city's financial situation, I understand how to analyze budgets, and I also know how to manage people."
Both the candidates are college educated. Thompson attended the University of Missouri, receiving a nursing degree and law degree. She also graduated from the John F. Kennedy School of Government Program at Harvard University. Boyd attended Columbia College for his undergrad and received an MBA from Fontbonne University.
If elected to a new term, Thompson said she will put in place a business advisory council "because we can't be everywhere all the time," she said. "Sort of like a neighborhood watch, so they can also be our eyes and ears as a watchdog for businesses across the city."
Boyd, on the other hand, said his goal would be to streamline the license collector office, making it a "one stop shop, whereby I would eliminate the steps of going to the collector of revenue and the building division," he said. "Using 21st-century computers, we should be able to be able talk to each across departments."
Boyd has outspent Thompson in the race. The alderman's campaign committee has spent roughly $52,000 this year, compared to Thompson's nearly $19,000.
The bulk of Boyd's spending has gone toward printing mailers ($18,555) and canvassing the city ($15,658). He also spent nearly $13,000 on fundraising and consulting.
Thompson, meanwhile, has spent $6,750 on campaign workers, as well as $2,725 on highway and yard signs. As of July 15, Thompson had $46,000 in her campaign chest that she can use. At the same time, Boyd still had $83,000 remaining.
The two candidates have different city officials in their respective sides of the ring. Thompson has been endorsed by President of the Board of Alderman Lewis Reed, Treasurer Tishaura Jones and Comptroller Darlene Green. Boyd has been endorsed by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, Collector of Revenue Gregory Daly as well as 16 aldermen.
Whoever wins on Aug. 5 will move on to face Green Party candidate Donald Devivo.
Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel