Lewis Reed, president of the Board of Aldermen, spoke with The American on Tuesday about his plans to run for mayor in 2013, which he announced yesterday.
The American: Why do you want to be the mayor of the city of St Louis?
Lewis Reed: If you take a look at crime in our neighborhoods or public safety or economic development and the job situation and our schools, we are not in good shape. And we can do better. I think we need a change. The current mayor has had plenty of time to see if he can get things that we need done in the city. We’ve lost 29,000 people as of last Census.
The American: In your current position as a citywide elected official, and someone who works with the mayor whether you like it or not, you’ve got a good view into that office. What could be done with that office that isn’t being done by Slay?
Lewis Reed: If we just take a look at how we spend the limited resources we have, we could re-align some of those resources, so they hit intended targets and we could see some job growth. In every urban environment across America, when you look at where the job growth comes from, it comes from businesses five years or younger. If you want to stimulate job growth in the urban core, you have to invest in entrepreneur programs and services and those programs that can create jobs. We just use those resources that come from the federal government in a much different way.
The American: We can expect the people who are benefiting from Slay’s administration are going to be with Slay. I would expect the larger corporate citizens are going to be with him because they tend to be conservative with incumbents on the ballot. What can you do to reach smaller businesses?
Lewis Reed: The current mayor has not done a good job – not just with small businesses but with people throughout the city – to make sure the people in the city get the resources they need. In terms of working with smaller business, I would open lines of communication with them. We know we have business associations across the city. But we should be pulling data from those business associations to understand what’s happening with businesses and what the city can be doing to better support the small business. We can look at better collaborations between banks and lending institutions and help to build insurance cooperatives.
The American: We remember from when Mike McMillan was a perceived threat, there was a concerted effort to starve him of campaign funding. It’s fair to expect the same for you.
Lewis Reed: We will have enough money to win. In Slay’s last race, he outspent not just his opponent but every mayor in the United States on a cost per vote basis. So that’s not a lot to write home about. And it’s not like he walked away with 80 percent of the vote. At the end of the day it’s about votes, it’s not about dollars.
The American: The Post-Dispatch has basically endorsed the mayor before you even announced your candidacy. You are also running against the Post-Dispatch. How can you counteract that?
Lewis Reed: Every day in politics, you run against the Post-Dispatch. If you are aligned with Slay, they are with you. If you are not, they are not. It’s a sad fact, but it’s a fact.
The American: During the August 2012 primary, black candidates won some tough races. In March, will there be any other campaigns that will feed into yours, the way other campaigns fed into U.S. Rep Wm. Lacy Clay’s?
Lewis Reed: You will have all the odd-numbered wards on the ballot. When you look across the board, the dynamics of the races work better in our favor.
The American: Darlene Green is also on the ballot. Let’s assume Darlene would not have a strong opponent.
Lewis Reed: Slay does not need her to have a race. The best thing going for Darlene in terms of not having a race is that Mayor Slay has a credible challenger. Otherwise he would free time to mess with her. He would say, “Let me expand my power base, let me take out Darlene. She voted against me twice.” But he cannot afford that in this situation.
The American: One of the things we covered in your tenure as president of the Board of Aldermen was the redistricting of the wards, which was amazingly free of rancor and race-bating and almost devoid of controversy of any kind. How can you take an example of leadership like that, which plainly didn’t play races against one and another?
Lewis Reed: Francis Slay, his entire makeup is a process of dividing and conquering. He even attempted to do that during this redistricting process. One of the things he wanted to do was draw a line through downtown and put a ward downtown and remove a couple wards on the North Side. That’s the type of politics they play. It is destructive, it is not progressive.
The American: We saw Slay play the August primary pretty good – investing in some black candidates that you wouldn’t have expected, especially state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, and Clay. Has that thrown up any road blocks in your base?
Lewis Reed: Long term, we’ll have to see. He played those candidates. I didn’t see the support. If he really gave support, where were the votes? All of Slay's strongest wards were strongly for Russ Carnahan.
At the end of the day, when they go to the polls I want voters to remember across the last 12 years: where has this mayor been on the issues that are most important to you, that impact your livelihood, your family, your schools, crime in your neighborhoods? He has been asleep at the wheel.
Mayor Slay’s campaign released a response to Reed’s campaign announcement:
From today on, Lewis Reed will no longer be able to have an unexamined resume; a confidential daily schedule; secret businesses; and multiple positions on most issues.