Michael Chance Responds to My Mayoral Candidacy

Michael Chance is an angry guy. A big shot in St. Louis City GOP politics for what it’s worth.  The guy has run for office time and time again and lost time and time again. Chance is a guy with old ideas that will only lead to defeat.  My platform is a revolutionary conservative platform that will deliver an almost certain victory for myself and the St. Louis City GOP.  After offering to meet Mr. Chance this is how he responded  to me.

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The past hasn’t been so great for Mr. Chance and with an attitude like this the future won’t either.  He can embrace my platform and evolve or stick to his stale ideas and perish.

Umar Lee 2017 Mayoral Platform

My fellow Americans and St. Louisans I’m running for mayor of our city in 2017. I come to you at a time of crisis. Over the last year our streets have been filled with teargas,  neighbor has been turned against neighbor, poverty is rampant,  our schools are failing, and our murder-rate is off the charts.  In 1950 our city had well over 800,000 residents.  Today we have just over 300,000. St. Louis is a dying city. We are in need of a renewal.  The politicians of old have steered us off course for decades and the proof is in the pudding.  It’s time for a change.  My candidacy is about hope and change and making St. Louis great again. 

I’ve been asked why I’m running as a Republican.  In all honesty party label is not that important to me. There are good people on both sides of the aisle and enemies of progress on both sides of the aisle.  In the past I’ve voted for both parties.  In the city of St. Louis the Democratic Party is a well-oiled and heavily-funded machine often hostile to change.  A machine that has been at the helm during six decades of decline in our city. The Republican Party of St. Louis City is detached from power and open to new ideas and energy.  I run as a Republican in the spirit of GOP lawmakers who fought segregationist Dixiecrats to pass civil-rights legislation and in the spirit of Abraham Lincoln.  Not in the spirit of a Jesse Helms or Donald Trump. 

I have a deep love for St. Louis. The Lee family moved to Missouri from Tennessee after the Civil War. My grandfather came to St. Louis seeking work in the Great Depression,  served in the United States Marine Corps in World War II,  and then met my grandmother at the old St. Louis Dairy downtown after the war. I was raised by my grandparents and the stories of the North St. Louis of their youth. A city bustling with jobs and street cars. It pained them to watch this city decline. All of us can help revive St. Louis in our own ways.  However,  it takes leadership at the top to support systematic change.

St. Louis is a city bitterly divided by race. As a white man I’m a beneficiary of white privilege and have seen first hand the damage of racism. All of my children are racially-mixed as are all 12 of my nieces and nephews. Fighting racism is fighting for their future. 

St. Louis has a serious crime problem. We cannot solve crime in our city until we address root causes and bring ex-offenders back into society.  Law-enforcement should be about the promotion of peace and not punishment.  Just like many of our young people I was a young person often in trouble and yet I’m running for mayor.  I want young people to know even if you’ve been in trouble the future can be as bright as you want it to be.

Diversity is what makes our nation great. Mayor Francis Slay is the grandson of Lebanese immigrants.  African-Americans, immigrants and poor migrants built St. Louis.  We are a city of many races and religions.  I happen to be a Muslim;  but I’m not running to be the mufti of St. Louis I’m running to be mayor. 

Here is my platform. 

1. Ending the War on Drugs

The late Tupac Shakur said “instead of a war on poverty you have a war on drugs so the police can bother me”. The war on drugs is a failure and has led to mass-incarceration. We need to put a stop to it. Some use drugs recreationally and they should be free to do that without interference from the government.  Some are addicted to drugs and not only are their lives ruined they leave a path of destruction around them. This is not a criminal matter. This is an issue of treatment.  Therefore as the mayor of St. Louis I would order the police department to stop making drug arrests and disband all units related to the “war on drugs”.  This is also in keeping with the conservative ideals of individual-responsibility and freedom.  Mass-incarceration is an assault on freedom as is telling people what they can and can’t put in their bodies.

2. Fair Development

An Umar Lee administration will not be giving out corporate welfare. Companies like IKEA and Whole Foods will not be rewarded with TIF money while existing small businesses are saddled with burdensome regulations. Gentrification is occurring throughout America driving working-class and poor Americans out of cities and is largely being done with taxpayers dollars directed by Democratic mayors.  In city after city the poor and people of color are being driven out by supposedly liberal Democratic mayors and we are seeing the beginning of this process in St. Louis.  I’ll fight TIF, eminent-domain,  and all assaults on our freedom.

3. Ending Poverty,  Homelessness and Hunger

As mayor of St. Louis I’ll fight to end poverty. While I’m a conservative and believe many causes of party are within the family, culture and upbringing there is much government can do as well.  I will propose that the minimum-wage in the city of St. Louis be raised to $25 an hour. I will also lead a trade delegation to Russia,  China,  the Arab Gulf States, Iran and Venezuela to encourage foreign-investment in St. Louis. 

I will end homelessness in St. Louis by ordering that the thousands of vacant buildings owned by the city of St. Louis and administered by the incompetent LRA be given to the homeless.  I will also partner with the Reverend Larry Rice and work to get him a bigger facility such as the old Millennium Hotel. The money for this program will be generated by a casino-tax I’ll propose. 

I will end hunger as mayor of St. Louis by purchasing food trucks that will feed the poor and hungry. These trucks will serve three meals a day at parks throughout the city and will be paid for by a food-tax I’ll propose for Whole Foods Market and all fancy restaurants in St. Louis (basically anywhere you need a reservation).

These are conservative ideas. There is no conservatism without a people to conserve.  Housing, food and a basic-income are basic ingredients to the conservation and survival of a people. 

4. A Refugee Hub

The world is experiencing a tremendous refugee crisis.  The situation in Syria is the greatest refugee crisis since World War II.  We have no control over where we are born.  No matter our color,  our race, our gender or our religion we’re all human.  It’s our responsibility as a human family to take in those refugees in need. During the Holocaust the SS St. Louis came to the shores of our nation seeking asylum. The ship was sent back because the quota for refugees had already been filled and many in America didn’t want to see more Jews become Americans.  Those Jews were sent back to Europe and death.  Just imagine if they’d have been let in? Our city has lost 500,000 residents over sixty years and we have a capacity to take in hundreds of thousands.  With a combination of LRA housing,  city parks, and vacant lots for the building of temporary refugee camps we have the capacity to become the biggest hub for Syrian refugees outside of the region of conflict.  This new population will lead to a rejuvenation of our city.  While we will receive some support from the private-sector and federal-government for this the majority of the funding will come from a new tax assessed to flights in and out of Lambert International Airport. 

5. Rams Departure Tax

What St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is attempting to do to St. Louis is truly sickening.  Our city built the Rams a stadium,  gave the Rams their only Super Bowl victory,  and supported the team despite year after year of a miserable product. I’m proposing a ten-billion dollar departure-tax for the St. Louis Rams.  If they can’t pay it the team will become the property of St. Louis just like the Green Bay Packers are owned by citizens.  One thing I won’t be doing is signing off on more corporate welfare to build the Rams a new stadium. 

6. Fair Taxation

I will eliminate the payroll tax for the bottom 80% of city taxpayers.  I will increase the city earnings tax to 3% for the 6-19 bracket and 5% for the 1-5 income-bracket.

7. Cardinals Tax

I will propose we tax the St. Louis Cardinals to create the top department of parks and recreation in the country and to create elite youth sports programs in sports such as wrestling, boxing, swimming and archery. 

8. Transportation

A great city has a great public transportation system.  Go across America and you’ll find prosperous and  modern cities invest in a moder transit-system. As mayor of St. Louis I will fight to create a north-south Metro rail line and added bus-service to the areas that really need it. I will also do a bike-lane assessment.  Adding them where needed and removing where needed.  Regarding the cab industry I’ll work to abolish the Metropolitan Taxi Commission and create a regulatory body not made up of those within the industry.  I’ll also introduce a ride-share tax which will go to fund expanded Call-a-Ride service operated by Metro for those who are needy or unbanked.

9. Criminal Justice Reform

On day one in office I’ll remove Chief Sam Dotson and the entire leadership of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department from their duties.  I will fight the cronyism and corruption in the department by hiring any new chief from outside the department via a national job search. I will implement body cameras for police,  steroid testing for police, PTSD screening for new officers and mandate diversity-training for all officers. I will sell off any military-grade equipment owned by the police department.  I will appoint veteran Ferguson protesters to the civilian review board and hire others as consultants to the department.  Furthermore I will reach out to St. Louis street gangs and help them organize as “well regulated militias” and have them patrol their own turf. If they can end violence in their neighborhoods they’ll be rewarded. Furthermore,  as a constitutional conservative I will end the erosion of our civil-liberties.  I will work to get rid of all surveillance cameras,  red-light cameras and the Real Time Intelligence Center.

10. Education

I will work to cut the bureaucracy from the St. Louis Public Schools.  I will lead an effort to bring professionals from major area corporations into the public schools as mentors.  I’ll also support raising the salaries of city teachers by 40% to bring them in line with higher-paid districts throughout the country.  In honor of the late Mae Duggan I’ll also fight to give poor children in St. Louis the same opportunity every middle to upper-class family has and that is a chance to attend private school.  St. Louis is long overdue for a school voucher program and I’ll work with the Archdiocese of St. Louis and local churches, mosques,  temples and synagogues to help create this program. 

11. Gun Rights 

I am a strong supporter of Second Ammendment rights. I will remove any barrier to open and concealed carry the city of St. Louis has placed. Furthermore,  in accordance with Missouri Ammendment 5, I will order the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to not arrest any non-violent ex-offenders in possession of guns. 

12. Climate Change

I will order a city climate change study in order to create a greener and more sustainable city. I’ll also work to encourage the expansion of community gardens and urban farming.

13. Native American Memorial

The Gateway Arch is the symbol of our city and commemorates the westward expansion of our nation.  We must realize that this expansion led to the genocide of the Native American people.  Therefore I will use my position as mayor to propose the construction of a memorial to the genocide of the Native American people on the grounds of the Gateway Arch.

14.  Great Depression and Great Migration Museums

I propose the construction of two world class museums in downtown St.  Louis.  One commemorating the Great Migration of African-Americans to the north and another for the Great Depression.  These will become tourist attractions and help make St. Louis a hub for tourism.

15. Non-Discrimination

I will work to make sure equal-pay becomes a reality in St. Louis.  I’ll also propose a new and stiffer non-discrimination bill that will cover race, religion,  gender, sexual identity,  age and disabilities. 

Follow my mayoral campaign on Twitter at @Umar4STLMayor on Facebook like Umar Lee for St. Louis and on Periscope @STLAbuBadu

Mayor Slay, Lewis Reed and The Real Deal With St. Louis

If you live in Florissant and Afton and you are a responsible or even semi-responsible adult and concerned citizen chances are you cannot names the mayors of Cheserfield, University City, Ferguson, Berkeley or Kirkwood. Chances are though you can name the mayor of St. Louis. The city is the heart of the region and even if you do not live in the city your family roots probably trace back to the city. If you are in North County or St. Charles County chances are your roots are in North St. Louis and if you are in South County or Jefferson County chances are high your roots are in South St. Louis. People pay attention to the officer of city mayor as whoever sits in room 200 becomes a spokesman for the area. So, as we head to the polls this Tuesday for the Democratic Primary we will not only be electing the leader of the city in this one-party town we will also be electing the leader of this region. Will Mayor Francis Slay be elected to an unprecedented fourth term or will the challenger Lewis Reed upset his plans to make history? This race is also a referendum on the state and condition of St. Louis so it is a good time to asses where we are. So, let us take a look at the major issues in the race:

Mayor Francis Slay: Pros and Cons

Mayor Francis Slay of St. Louis with a Somali-Muslim schoolgirl

Mayor Francis Slay of St. Louis with a Somali-Muslim schoolgirl

I view Mayor Francis Slay as an old-school South St. Louis machine-politician who has come to office at a unique transformational time in the history of the city of St. Louis and literally went through a transformation on the job. I celebrated the night in 1993 Freeman Bosley, Jr. became the first African-American mayor of the city of St. Louis and I mourned his loss in 1997 and voted for Bosley again in 2001. To me Bosley was the man who could have brought St. Louis out of our poor state of race relations. Having lived around the country I can definitely say I have never been anywhere with worse race-relations than St. Louis. Everything in this city is black and white and the seat of racism, the Selma of St. Louis, has traditionally been deep South St. Louis. It just so happened that the deep South Side is the political-base of Mayor Slay so I did not vote for him when he first ran and did not trust him for years.

Over the years I have watched Mayor Slay and have had to admire his leadership and the cities growth under his watch. At first I said to myself “this is some kind of a trick” and this Lebanese South Side Hoosier Catholic schoolboy must have something up his sleeve. I did not believe a South Side Machine politician could actually want a diverse and inclusive city and I remembered the white rage at the election of Mayor Bosely and the uproar the white-establishment had at just giving up a little bit of power. Yet year after year I have watched Mayor Slay consistently reach out and embrace the diversity of this city.

The pros are obvious. As a teenager when I would catch the 74 West Florissant bus to Washington and Tucker to shop at Gus’s I got out to a seen of boarded up buildings and complete desolation. I vividly remember turning around 14th and Washington when I was in the 8th grade and a man pissing on my shoes in broad daylight. For me to see that strip become famous as “Warsh Ave” and a destination to out-of-towners is surreal. The St. Louis of my youth was on par with Detroit, Gary and Camden (only with worse race-relations and maybe a few more jobs) and without change this city was on its way to looking like Detroit looks today. My mother lived in the Shaw Neighborhood in the 90’s and at the time there were several open-air drug-markets in the neighborhood and it was definitely not the place to be. The corner of Shenandoah and Thurman was one of the most dangerous and hottest drug-corners in the city. Today, it is home to the Thurman Café a place where rich yuppies drink craft beer and talk about the English Premier League. A far cry from the Palestinian-owned store that used to sit on the corner with a Dirty Harry .45 revolver permanently affixed behind the counter. Or the corner where “Mae Man” was gunned down by police who had a hard-on for him anyway for being the leader of the “Do Mob”.

McCree Town, just blocks over from Shaw, looked like a ghost town or something out of a dystopian futuristic novel. The only people you ever saw were dope-dealers and dopefiends. Working people fled in droves and those left behind became victims getting robbed of social security checks and anything else of value.  Today my old friend Ben Poremba has one of the fanciest restaurants in St. Louis on the corner of Tower Grove and McRee. The old Dixiecrat South Side Hoosiers were fleeing the city and neighborhoods like Dutchtown and Bevo became vacant only to be saved by a wave of immigration. Bosnians, Somalis, Mexicans, Afghans, Vietnamese and other immigrant groups are now buying homes, opening up stores, and laying down roots with houses of worship. North St. Louis looked like Germantown Philly or West Baltimore with late-night traffic-jams from ghetto-drama and working-taxpayers locked up behind bars in their own homes at night never to leave their homes in the daytime unless it was necessary. The West Side was even worse and as in other cities the experiment of hi-rise public-housing from the Cochrane to the Peabody to the Blumeyer was not doing well.

Young people were not moving to the city, city employees were using their parents addresses and moving to the county, and anyone who got a good job got the hell out of the city ASAP leaving a trail of vacant housing for dopefiends to lay their heads in.

What is the situation today? When young people get out of college they are not thinking about suburban apartment complexes as they did in years past. They are headed to the city and renting apartments where they can have easy access to the Loft District, The Grove, South Grand, The Loop, the Central West End and other hotspots for dining and nightlife. The slightly older crowd are following the national trend and instead of buying suburban dream homes are buying homes to rehab in south side neighborhoods like Benton Park and Tower Grove East often on sketchy blocks. In my neighborhood of Old North St. Louis, where the old-times will tell you they couldn’t even get family to visit them in the 80’s and 90’s it was so bad, there are now lines around the corner at Crown Candy Kitchen and an organic food co-op.

Today St. Louis is a city full of night-life, new ethnic-neighborhoods and a renewed vibrancy. This may not be the booming St. Louis of the 40’s and 50’s with street cars and a packed Union Station my grandparents describe: but it is a far cry from the 80’s and 90’s. Can anyone who was around then imagine food trucks downtown at night? Tower Grove Park full of yuppies who grew up in West County playing kickball? The diversity of South Grand? A strip like The Grove? All of these things signal a break from the traditional backwards thinking St. Louis and all came under the watch of Mayor Slay who deserves credit.

 

The South Side base of Mayor Slay would have cheered if he would have bashed immigrants and joined the “English is the official language” crowd. Instead Mayor Slay is learning to speak Spanish. The boys down in Holly Hills and Bevo, who are not too keen on their new Muslim neighbors, would have cheered Mayor Slay on if he would have embraced Islamphobia. Instead Mayor Slay has reached out to the Muslim community at every turn and when local Muslims were targeted after 9-11 the mayor immediately came out in condemnation. I will not forget that and I know many other local Muslims feel the same way.

The Mayor is a South Side politician to be sure, and those are his roots, and he takes care of those who knows him best like everyone else does, but at the end of the day, Mayor Slay has worked to bring modernity to St. Louis and embrace diversity and economic-growth.

The cons on Slay? There are not many in my opinion. However, I disagree with the Mayor on the effectiveness of charter schools (I support school-choice), any attempts to privatize our great tasting city water, and I am skeptical (to say the least) of the Paul McKee “development”.

Alderman Lewis Reed: Pros and Cons

A Chicago-native and South Sider Lewis Reed is of the new mold of black urban Democratic politicians similar to the former Mayor of Washington, DC Adrien Fenty, Mayor Corey Booker of Newark and others. In other words “post-racial” black politicians who made their careers catering to the whims of a new breed of white liberal urbansits. In the case of Reed supporting dedicated lanes for cyclists, development in the upscale Lafayette Square neighborhood and such. This has made Reed a darling to the tiny population of urbanists who sit around drinking latte discussing development issues.

However, I am not so keen on Reed. Let us first look at the model of Washington, DC and Fenty. A model Reed seems to be following. Under the administration of Fenty the black population substantially plummeted and he cut through the city payrolls with a machete and almost everyone Fenty fired was black and in almost all cases replaced by whites. Fenty turned Chocolate City into a swirl with all the chocolate at the bottom and falling out of the cone into Maryland. The new DC is not a black working-class city: but rather a home for the white super-wealthy half-empty in the summer as they vacation in the Napa Valley or south of France leaving the District to tourists, the young, and people who didn’t come there for government jobs.

I fear that a Reed Administration would look a lot like a Fenty Administration. This is why I am dumbfounded that in the closing weeks of the campaign Reed is making a naked racial appeal to African-American voters. This is a man who in his entire political career has shown very little concern for black voters, has not reached out his neck on issues affecting the black community, and failed to hire blacks on his own staff and he is now reinventing himself as a modern-day Marcus Garvey? Hell, if you listen to his ads on radio you would think he is Nat Turner and not a guy who has dedicated his entire political career to issues that move the New Yorker crowd and not the crowd on Natural Bridge and Kingshighway. The Reed supporters will be sadly mistaken if he is elected as I am venturing a guess his staff will look a lot like the crowd at a Lafayette Square cocktail party and be concerned with the same issues.

Crime

In recent months I have heard a lot about crime and there is no doubt crime is a serious issue in this city and I speak on this issue with firsthand knowledge. I see it every day on my job and I hear about it everyday. Many friends of mine have been shot and killed in this city and many more have ended up in prison or struggling with addiction.

While crime is bad it is nowhere as bad as it was in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. If you want to go back to the 70’s when Fat Woods with his feared musclemen Earl Jr. and Rodney Woods and their young lieutenant Jerry Lewis ran the Pruitt-Igoe Projects ( something that somehow failed to make the Pruiit-Igoe Myth documentary when that is the first thing people talk about when they mention that era).  There is no block ran in St. Louis today like Big Woods ran the Pruiit-Igoe. There are no players left like Sam Petty and his brothers who did it big in the 70’s in St. Louis. Does anyone remember ’85 and ’86 when crack first hit? Then Bloods and Crips colors and set-trippin hit at the same time as crack and all while AIDS was blowing up? In the mid to late eighties even into the 90’s red and blue were shooting each other on site with no previous beef. That is no longer happening. Nobody with even a shred of information can tell you the gang-situation is worse today than it was in that era and the homicide statistics do not lie.

St. Louis was so flush with crack money from the mid 80’s to the mid 90’s and gang warfare that many neighborhoods looked like war zones. The College Hill of today is nothing like the Cabanne Courts, Horseshoe, 19th Street, Cochrane, Walnut Park or any projects of that era. The College Hill of 1993 was even way more dangerous than the College Hill of 2013. People always say “these kids nowadays are worser” or “It has never been worse” and most times they don’t know what the hell they are talking about. Many of the people complaining today, and I am not talking about residents of high-crime neighborhoods, were living in Ladue or Kansas at that time and don’t know these things. They move to the city, and while crime is down, they are terrified that the streets are not as safe as whatever upscale suburb they grew up in. Advice? Before you move to the city learn how to fight and if you can’t fight get a concealed-carry and try to be street smart and if you don’t do none of that expect to be a Knockout King or robbery victim.

Driving through the city in the 80’s and 90’s you would see corner after corner of people posted up on corners, leaning on whiles, drinking beer leanin on cars, selling dope in the middle of the street, dopefiends driving up to dopesets like a fast food drive-thru, dice games on the corner and the like. Drive through St. Louis north and south these days and there are only a handful of corners where you will see this such as the 4400 block of Farlin and the 2800 block of Stoddard. A friend of mine from the hard streets of Southeast DC remarked “how can St. Louis be dangerous I never see anyone in the streets”? Which of course is a mixed blessing. The city is safer but heavy-handed police tactics have also made people scared to socialize in their own neighborhoods or sit on their own porches.

The new elephant in the room is police cameras. We are being told the city will be safer if we are only willing to give up our civil-liberties and allow ourselves to be in one big reality TV show. Of course these people fail to mention that places like the south side of Chicago and west Baltimore have had cameras for years and they have not been successful.  There are also no city guidelines for their usage and the cameras existing in the 21st Ward have been used to monitor the political activities of the opponents of the alderman. When I asked a city official if this was appropriate he responded “Alderman Antonio French paid for them he can shoot pornos with them if he wants.”  Feeling safer yet?  Somehow we get through the 80’s and 90’s without giving up our civil-liberties. Why now?

Regarding crime I don’t think it matters all that much who is mayor. People are led to lives of crime because of family, social and cultural issues. In some areas a culture of crime takes root. It is a spiritual crisis and the government can only do so much other provide a better educational and job opportunities giving people a stake in society.

Education

On this issue I do not side with Slay or Reed. Our public schools suck. Period, end of discussion. I do not want to hear about Metro or some other school a fraction of parents can get their kids into at the end of the day the schools suck. Living in the city with kids often means: moving to the county when they are of school age, private schools, or home-schooling. I do not blame the teachers as they cannot work miracles. If there is not a culture of emphasizing education at home there is only so much a teacher can do. Our teachers are fine: but you cannot expect them to work miracles with kids coming from chaotic home lives. We do not need rich white kids blowing off a little white guilt through Teach For America to save black kids in some kind of neo-colonial mission. We need better families and that is why I support school choice which will give inner-city kids the same opportunities that every middle-class kids have to attend private schools where their souls can be nurtured.  This is a choice most Democrats can’t politically support: but at the same time they send their kids to private schools. It also does not help the case of the teachers union when a rep wanna-be thug (and we know this cat soft for real) like Mr. Abdul-Raheem assaults Slay supporters.

Culture

St. Louis has been losing population for decades. Reed says he can stop this. Doubtful, this is an issue bigger than any mayor that Slay has handled very well. Let’s start with some facts. In the 1950 census when St. Louis had well more than 800,000 residents St. Louis County was mostly farmland and the city was ruled by Jim Crow. The GI Bill, a suburban housing boom, and desegregation led to a mass exodus of white residents from the city . What followed was the emergence of a White Democratic Machine on the South Side a Black Machine on the North Side and a hipper, more affluent liberal set in the central-corridor fewer in numbers with a decimated downtown.

Each of these machines catered to their base and much, even most, of that appeal as based on race. The city became very provincial and about “where did you go to (high) school” (a question I actually love), tribal neighborhood associations, clannish ward committees, Catholic parishes that worked to enforce racial norms, exclusive labor unions, police and firefighters clustered in Southwest City, and powerful and corrupt black preachers in North St. Louis pimping a dwindling flock and in bed with alderman and funeral-home directors.

St. Louis is changing though. The old South Side Hoosiers are fleeing the city for Jefferson County and if they have money West County. Previous white neighborhoods with neighborhood bars where it was not uncommon to find Confederate memorabilia are now home to a mix of immigrants, African-Americans and educated young white professionals. The Catholic Parishes are not as strong as they once were and labor-unions have become weak. All of those factors led to an erosion of both city population and the political base of Mayor Slay.

Seeing the old white St. Louis on its death bed and a newer city emerging instead of cloistering himself in the 23rd Ward Mayor Slay reached out and made new alliances and welcomed the changing city. A city that is increasingly not home to the Catholic socially-conservative neighborhoods of his youth: but to a younger, more secular, less traditional group of people who do not have as many children yet love their dogs ( and I hate dogs but you know you gotta be tolerant). This is not a crowd I identify with as a socially-conservative practicing Sunni Muslim: but they have breathed life into city neighborhoods and Mayor Slay is doing everything he can to welcome them while holding on to his core values. As an example Mayor Slay comes from a strong labor background. If I remember correctly he might have even represented my dad who is a UAW Local #2250 member. Most of this new so-called hipster and urbanist crowd are educated, upwardly mobile, and grew up in neighborhoods with people like them. Case in point the guy who is redeveloping McRee Town has a sign “Friends Don’t Let Friends Live in Chesterfield”. That sign says a lot.  Everyone this guy knows, all of his friends at least, can live in Chesterfield if they want: but to most living in Chesterfield is an American dream. If anyone in my family ever had enough money to move to Chesterfield it would be a great success story. This is an opportunity available to so few Americans and what people dream of who move to this country from places like Bosnia and Pakistan. Yet, this guy doesn’t see that and on some levels I agree with him. I would much rather live in the city even if I had money: but like most Americans I can’t afford Chesterfield or one of his fancy eco-friendly houses.

The point is, on issues of class, while many of these new city residents see themselves as progressive and green and support gay marriage they may not be all that different than say Rush Limbaugh on labor issues and other class-issues.  If you watch Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert or Bill Maher all you get is a steady dose of “Americans are stupid” we are superior, we are elite, we are not religious, we don’t have guns ( but have the cops on speed dial) now let’s have a toast with our craft beer or wine. While embracing this new crowd Mayor Slay has not forsook his labor roots or the traditional religious neighborhoods of the city. He is trying to find a balance realizing this has to be a city for all people.

This is also not the same North St. Louis that elected Freeman Bosley, Jr. in 1993. The black middle-class has fled in droves to North St. Louis County and now even St. Charles County in search of better schools and safer neighborhoods. Black churches in North St. Louis are full on Sunday: but half the congregation, and probably the preacher, are headed out to North County after the sermon. The traditional Black Machine is in decline and fighting over crumbs as their base is picking up and moving to Florissant and Spanish Lake. While at the same time black political power is on the rise in North County with a sleuth of black mayors and elected officials not to mention St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley. I used to live on the 5300 block of Geraldine in the 90’s and it was a vibrant block (in a neighborhood they called Murderville). Today half the houses on the block have been torn down.  Most people just don’t wanna live in North St. Louis and no mayor is going to change that any time soon and the only candidate from the North Side is Jimmy Matthews.

The only thing that can bring St. Louis population back and curb the losses is immigration. While important to attract there are just not enough kids from West County to attract to the city or people looking to reconnect to their family roots. St. Louis is also unlikely to become a major attraction to move to given the fact that the weather here sucks, we are not close to any beaches, and the nature is nothing to write home about. We need immigrants and we need a major influx. Currently we have one of the lowest Latino populations in America and that is a good place to start. Find out how we can attract more immigrants to this city who can join hands in the future with African-Americans in North St. Louis, reformed South Side Hoosiers, and preservationists like Michael Allen to create a sustainable St. Louis into the future. I see Mayor Slay as someone who can strike the balance between all of these groups and at the same time keep dangerous forces with no class or racial consciousness such as NextSTL at bay ( they have some good stuff but overall the land grabs and grandiose projects they advocate, with zero concern for existing residents, and nonsense like making the North Riverfront into the Upper West Side, reminds me of some kind of perverse reverse Great Society where the resources of the state are dedicated to displacing the poor and empowering the rich).

Of course an old industrial city like St. Louis, where we have lost so many factories and corporations, has to figure out the economic questions and the jobs situation. That is a major priority and I see Mayor Slay working tirelessly on this issue while competing under the pressures of globalization .

My Endorsement

I proudly endorse the reelection of Mayor Francis Slay and count myself with State Senator Jamillah Nasheed as a former opponent turned support. I encourage all local Muslims to support this friend of our community. Come Tuesday it will be Slay Day. No Need For Reed.