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Government, Politics & Issues

St. Louis Board of Aldermen president race features familiar names — Reed, Nasheed and Green

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed fills out the paperwork to enter the Democratic primary for his office on Monday, November 26, 2018.
File photo | Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed fills out the paperwork to enter the Democratic primary for his office on Monday. He will face at least two challengers.

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed is facing his stiffest competition yet as he runs for a fourth term in office.

Reed, along with two opponents, state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, and Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward, filed to run for board president on Monday, the first day candidates could enter the March 5 primary. Nasheed is ineligible to run for Senate again because of term limits.

“I enjoy the job and I enjoy public service,” Reed said. “We’ve gotten a lot of great things done, but there’s still a lot of work to be done, so I’m looking forward to another term to be able to address some of these systemic issues across the city.”

Reed said he is “supremely confident” that voters will give him another four years in office, based on his record. He pointed to the work he did in passing balanced budgets during the 2008 recession, which is required by the city charter, and his initiatives to boost public safety.

“The status quo in this city is not working,” Green countered. “We’ve had a good-old-boys network running City Hall for way too long, and it’s time to elect some leadership that is not beholden to the same special interests that have basically run this city to the verge of bankruptcy.”

Green has never served a full term as alderman, although she has been in office for a total of four years. Length of time at City Hall, she said, does not mean that someone has been successful at their job.

“St. Louis can’t wait,” she said. “We are known nationally for our high crime rates, our high STD rates, our high number of officer-involved shootings. It is sticking to the same failed policies of the last 20 or 30 years that makes us remain at the top of those lists.”

Nasheed also challenged Reed’s claims that he’s been an effective leader.

“We have a void in leadership,” she said. “Sixteen years of nothingness is long enough.”

Nasheed said she expects the proposed construction of a Major League Soccer stadium west of Union Station to be an issue in the race. The ownership group plans to construct the building using private dollars, but the city would own the facility, which has Nasheed and others worried about who will be responsible for its upkeep. The ownership is also seeking special taxing districts at the stadium.

Nasheed faulted Reed for not pushing for a community benefits agreement in exchange for those subsidies.

“We should be able to say no, if you want to get subsidies from the taxpayers, what are the taxpayers going to get in return?” she said. “And that is the lack of leadership that we are seeing here under Lewis Reed.”

For example, Nasheed said, the owners of a proposed MLS team in Nashville, Tennessee signed a deal with a group called Stand Up Nashville that included a $15.50 minimum wage for workers at the stadium. It also required that 20 percent of the housing in the proposed mixed-use development be affordable by indexed household income standards.

Reed's campaign pointed to a resolution their candidate introduced last week that calls for the use of amusement tax revenue to cover the costs of stadium upkeep and renovations, but those terms have yet to be negotiated into a lease.

Both Reed and Green introduced bills in 2017 addressing community benefit agreements. Reed’s, which had broad-based support, required developers receiving incentives for projects of more than $1 million to negotiate an agreement with the alderman of the ward where the project was being built. Green’s went further, and also called for a committee of ward residents to negotiate the deals, rather than the alderman. Neither bill got a vote.

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis (left) and Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward (right) sign paperwork on November 26, 2018 to challenge Lewis Reed for president of the Board of Aldermen.
Credit Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio
State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis (left) and Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward (right) sign paperwork on Monday to challenge Lewis Reed for president of the Board of Aldermen.

Other races of interest

  • The results of the mayor’s race in 2017 showed Jeffrey Boyd could be vulnerable — he came in fourth in his own 22nd Ward — and a candidate has emerged to test that proposition. Tonya Finley-McCaw, who works for the financial services company Primerica, filed for the seat on Monday, as did Boyd. Her son, Rasheen Aldridge, is an activist and the Democratic committeeman in the 5th Ward.
  • The race to fill the 18th Ward seat being left vacant by Alderman Terry Kennedy will be at least a three-person affair. Both Jesse Todd, the ward’s longtime committeeman and activist Dhoruba Shakur, who will be on the ballot by his given name, Jeffrey Hill, filed on Monday. The Rev. Darryl Gray said he plans to file after Kennedy officially leaves office, which is expected to be early December.
  • Rumors have been circulating that Tom Bauer, who was ousted from his post as 24th Ward alderman in a 2005 recall, wants his old job back. If he does, he’ll face someone he knows well — Lorie Cavin, a longtime Dogtown resident. Bauer sued Cavan and other 24th Ward residents in 2005 for defamation over fliers about a proposed gas station development, though Cavin was later dropped as a defendant. A St. Louis jury awarded Bauer $150,000 in 2012, but an appeals court threw out the verdict in 2013, saying Bauer did not prove the higher standard required for public officials to be defamed. Attorney Bret Narayan has also entered the 24th Ward race.

The filing period goes through Jan. 4. Because the city is so heavily Democratic, whoever wins the March primary is favored to win in the April 2 general election.
Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

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