The EYE sat down with Democrat nominee for 27th Ward Alderman Chris Carter, who will be leaving his state House seat to pick up where his late uncle Greg Carter (R.I.P.) left off.
Political EYE: Why did you want to be an alderman rather than a state representative?
Chris Carter: Under the current circumstances, I wanted to continue Greg’s legacy of focusing on the 27th Ward. That has always been our base, our home, that area – always. To be focused on taking care of it felt like the right choice. Besides the circumstances, it was a better choice than going back to Jefferson City to serve under [Speaker of the House] Tim Jones [laughs] for the next two years. There won’t be many Democrats getting anything done or bringing anything back home. For me to step into Greg’s seat, to take Greg’s spot will keep energy and vibrancy going in the neighborhood, and that’s needed. We had a lot going on at the moment of Greg’s death. Not that many people knew what he had in his head but myself. I know some of the things he wanted to continue and some new things he wanted to fulfill. So I simply am here to serve out the vision my uncle had for the 27th Ward and to continue the great public service to that area.
Political EYE: Do you think you can have more impact as an alderman?
Chris Carter: Yes. Not just because of Tim Jones, but serving in a super-minority in the Legislature, there aren’t that many Democrats bringing back great things. Last year I was able to bring back a nice chunk of money for my district, along with Jamilah Nasheed; we were among the lucky few to walk away with something. Up there it’s a fight every day for issues, and we are getting killed. Nobody looks forward to getting their butt kicked. Right now, my time will be better served in City Hall versus Jefferson City. With Tim Jones it will be tough to get anything done. He is way different than [former Speaker] Steve Tilley was.
Political EYE: In what ways?
Chris Carter: Tilley basically understood what moved most people, and he would work with us. He would come see what we wanted or needed to bring back home. He actually took time out to sit down one on one with some of us to see if there was anything special we needed to take back home or anything urgent we needed to get done, and if he could help he would. He stood against his party at times. There have been times he stood with me on stuff. Tim Jones is a totally different guy with different beliefs. His way of going about things will be totally different.
Political EYE: Now you are going from getting your butt kicked in Jefferson City to the City of St. Louis, where there is the sense that we just won and there is this new sense of capability and possibility.
Chris Carter: We won in numbers of African Americans going back to Jefferson City, but up in Jeff it’s a different game and it doesn’t matter who won what.
Political EYE: I don’t mean the state rep races, I mean the city races and Lacy Clay’s race.
Chris Carter: I am looking forward to working with Antonio French and Tishaura Jones and Sam Moore and most of the guys down there at the Board of Aldermen.
Political EYE: Am I more excited about the August primary than you are? I feel like we have been losing a long time, but that has changed.
Chris Carter: Me being a young African-American public servant, along with Tishaura and Antonio, I am looking forward to one thing and that is working together. In terms of losing, this is simply a new day.
Political EYE: Talk to me about going to work at the Board of Aldermen – not for your constituents, but with your colleagues.
Chris Carter: There are lot of people I am leaning toward learning a lot from, same way as when I was a new state rep. I want to learn everything possible and be like a sponge, soak up everything and bring something back to my ward. I hate to say I may gravitate toward more people I have a relationship with, though I get along with everybody. Antonio and I are really close. I am fairly close with Shane Cohn. I like Scott Ogilvie.
Political EYE: Do you feel like you’ve been in the farm club in Jefferson City, and now you are moving into the big leagues?
Chris Carter: I don’t feel that way [laughs], but now that you point it out there will be more pressure to react upon certain situations. I’ve always been one when it’s time to take a stance to take my stance and roll with it.
Political EYE: Do you have any legislation in mind?
Chris Carter: I haven’t thought of anything yet, but I am working on some stuff now. I am starting to learn a few rules. I am meeting with Antonio a few days a week, getting a better overview of how things go, what the process is, who I should be talking to and who not. I am meeting with Terry Kennedy as well. I have some solid leaders showing me the way, teaching me how to move forward in City Hall. Mike McMillan has been a huge help. He’s been there for me in terms of knowledge.
Political EYE: Let me throw some things out at you for quick reactions. Mayor’s race 2013?
Chris Carter: [Laughs.] Man, I can’t answer that.
Political EYE: The city jails?
Chris Carter: We need city jail reform. Reform is needed heavily.
Political EYE: Local control of the police?
Chris Carter: We’re gonna bring it back home. We need to. Now is the time.
Political EYE: African-American unemployment?
Chris Carter: To be honest, for African Americans in my area this is regular. For certain African Americans, it’s been tough getting jobs forever. We just learn how to survive. But it’s something we have to tackle, a huge area of concern, something I am dedicated to working on.
Political EYE: Charter reform?
Chris Carter: Looking at pension stuff for firefighters and police from a state perspective, I’ve always seen a need to change this and that. There needs to be some reform on those issues. I haven’t looked into what exactly needs to change; that’s something I am looking at now.
Political EYE: Size of the Board of Aldermen?
Chris Carter: Yeah, that’s something I am looking at now.
Political EYE: Starting a family?
Chris Carter: I am actually engaged right now. To Tosha Blaylock. She is wonderful. Man, she is the woman God placed in my life specifically made for me. It’s going to be a plus to be able to come home to a beautiful wife every night – after June 1 of next year.
Political EYE: You have a date already?
Chris Carter: She set it immediately! Man, it was done. When I asked, she just threw out that date – boom! She actually wants me to put something in the paper announcing it.
Political EYE: You just did.