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Slay, Reed make their contest official as both file for mayor

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 26, 2012 - St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed made their Democratic battle official this morning, as both launched their mayoral candidacies within the first hour of filing for the March 5 primary.

Slay – who is seeking an unprecedented fourth term (since the 1880s) -- was the first city candidate to file for any office, thanks to close to a half-dozen placeholders whom his campaign had tapped to hold his place for months after the mayor had first started the line on Sept. 24.

On Monday, the mayor himself showed up to reclaim his place shortly before filing opened at 8 a.m. His various placeholders, campaign staffers and volunteers, showed up as well to witness his filing.

Reed, who had no placeholder, followed suit when he showed up to file shortly before 9 a.m.

Candidate filing continues through Jan. 4.

Reed was No. 16 for opening day, following a number of aldermanic candidates and a third mayoral hopeful, former Alderman Jimmie Matthews. Many of the contenders, like Slay, had deployed allies to hold their place in line – in truth, a couple rows of chairs in an anteroom at the city Election Board headquarters downtown.

All the candidates are required to take an oath of fitness for office and pay a filing fee equal to 1 percent of the salary for the post they are seeking. For mayor, the fee is $1,318; for aldermanic candidates, it’s $373.

Slay paid the fee by personal check, which some allies said was required under the city’s charter. Reed used a campaign check.

Formalities aside, Slay said in an interview that he had a reason for wanting to be the first candidate to file for any St. Louis office on the March 4 ballot.  “I filed first … because I do not take this job for granted and I don’t take the people of St. Louis for granted.”

“It demonstrates that I will be running an aggressive campaign and I will take nothing for granted,’’ the mayor continued, adding that his campaign already has knocked on 30,000 doors, “and we’ll be back.”

“I know that in this campaign I’m going to have to talk a lot about all the positive changes that we’ve experienced in the city since I’ve been in office, what my plans are for the future and the fact that our region, the city and county, needs reliable and experienced leadership.”

Slay would be only the second mayor in modern times to seek a fourth term. Three-term mayor Raymond Tucker failed in that quest in 1965, losing to fellow Democrat Alfonso J. Cervantes (who in 1973 lost a bid for a third term).

“This is not just a ‘ho-hum, another election,’ “Slay acknowledged. “This is a very important one for this city, for the future, and for me.”

Reed: City needs a new direction

Reed told reporters he was challenging Slay because the city “really needs a new direction.”

“We need job growth, we need new vitality,’’ Reed said, citing the 29,000 loss of population from 2000-2010. “People all across the city of St. Louis are hungry for a new direction, are hungry for some new leadership to address some of these issues that we’re plagued with on a daily basis, in a real substantive manner. And that’s what I plan to do.”

Reed said he hoped that race – often a factor in St. Louis politics – wouldn’t play much of a role this time. “This isn’t about the black vote, the white vote, the Hispanic vote. This is about everybody,’’ Reed said.

His campaign, he added, would focus on jobs, health care, education and crime.

As an example, Reed noted in an interview that although the city’s crime rate has improved, “we’re still in the top 10 nationally.”

Matthews, meanwhile, said he wasn’t running for mayor to be a “spoiler” – a traditional role often seen in mayoral elections.  Matthews contended that he planned to focus on alleged corruption and a perceived too-cozy relationship between City Hall and some developers.

Matthews said his campaign also would call for mayoral term limits.

(UPDATE)  Later, Comptroller Darlene Green also filed for re-election.  So far, she has no announced Democratic rival.

This year's municipal elections include the city's 14 odd-numbered wards, plus the newly vacated 6th Ward.

As of 4 p.m., the following aldermanic candidates had filed. Incumbents are listed in bold:

Quincy Troupe, 1st Ward;

Maxine Johnson, 3rd Ward;

Michelle Hutchings-Medina, 5th Ward;

Christine Ingrassa, 6th Ward;

Damon Jones, 6th Ward;

Phyllis Young, 7th Ward;

Ken Ortmann, 9th Ward;

Addie Tucker, 11th Ward;

Fred Wessels, 13th Ward;

Jennifer Florida, 15th Ward;

Lisa Miller, 15th Ward;

Marlene Davis, 19th Ward;

Antonio French, 21st Ward;

Joe Vaccaro, 23rd Ward;

Shane Cohn, 25th Ward;

Pamela Boyd, 27th Ward

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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