Candidates Clash at First Debate

GRAND CENTER — Things got heated Saturday at the first debate of the candidates running for President of the Board of Aldermen as the candidates traded attacks and accused each other of lying about their records. 

Candidates running for the position include incumbent President of Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed, State Senator Jamilah Nasheed, and 15th Alderwoman Megan Green. The three debated Saturday at Harris Stowe University at an event hosted by several community organizations including Action St. Louis, Arch City Defenders, Missouri Faith Voices, and WEPOWER.

Reed, who has served as President of the Board since 2007 is seeking a fourth term. He accused Nasheed of lying about her record as a member of the Missouri Legislature and voting with Republicans on important issues including campaign finance reform and banning gifts from lobbyists. “You just heard from double agent Nasheed,” he told the crowd. 

Moderators asked Nasheed several questions about her past votes against limitations on lobbyists gifts and her support of mandatory minimums, which she now says she is against except in cases of violent crime. “All I have done for the past 12 years under the control of a Republican House, Senate and governor’s mansion was fight for reproductive rights for women and pro-choice issues,” said Nasheed.

But that is not exactly true. As noted in an August 8, 2011 report in The Riverfront Times, Nasheed, who at the time called herself pro-life, was one of only 14 Democrats to vote for a bill restricting abortions after twenty weeks. She has since changed her position to pro-choice.

Nasheed accused Reed of being an ineffective leader. “We’ve had Lewis Reed here for 20 years and north St. Louis looks like a war zone. Children walking up and down the streets and all they see is vacant and abandoned buildings,” she said. 

Green, who represents the Tower Grove East and South neighborhoods, told the crowd “I am a democratic socialist and I have the endorsement of the Democratic Socialists of America.” She champions issues like immediately closing the city jail known as the Workhouse and reducing funding for the police department and moving those funds to social service programs such as youth jobs, mental health and affordable housing, programs she says will reduce crime.

“Right now we spend almost 60% of our operating budget on public safety,” said Green. “We spend more on policing than every other city on a per capita basis in this country besides Oakland, California.” 

Moderators asked the three candidates about which endorsements their campaigns have received so far and which one was most important to them.

Green pointed to her endorsement from the Democratic Socialists of America. Reed said he was proud to have received endorsements from the majority of member of the Board of Aldermen, but one was particularly special to him.

“Alderwoman Sharon Tyus and I have gone back and forth for years,” said Reed about the 1st Ward alderwoman who has on many occasions been an outspoken critic. “When you have someone like Alderwoman Sharon Tyus come out and say ‘I’m going to endorse you and I’m going to support you because it’s the right thing to do’, that one touched me,” said Reed.

Nasheed said the endorsement most important to her is “the people.” She said her campaign has heard from over 10,000 people that they have pledged to vote for her in March. “That’s what’s important,” said Nasheed. “The endorsement by the people for the people.”

Staff is home to The NorthSider and The SouthSider weekly community newspapers. The SouthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Tuesday. The NorthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Thursday. They are distributed at over 600 locations across St. Louis.

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