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.
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.
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.
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