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Reed says his experience would help him as mayor

CITY HALL – Lewis Reed sees his 14 years of experience as president of the Board of Aldermen as a key reason why voters should choose him to be mayor.

In cities such as Kansas City, Mo., an administrator does major daily tasks, and the mayor’s work is largely ceremonial, Reed said. It’s different here, he explained.

“The mayor of the city of St. Louis is directly responsible for, accountable for and has to make direct decisions to affect everything,” Reed said in a video call. “As mayor, I will hit the ground running from day one. I’m sure, as president of the Board of Aldermen longer than anyone in the history of the city, I understand what it takes to run the city.”

Reed will face City Treasurer Tishaura Jones, 20th Ward Alderwoman Cara Spencer and businessman Andrew Jones in a nonpartisan primary on March 2. The two candidates getting the most votes in that initial round will advance to an election on April 6.

Reed, who lives in the Compton Heights neighborhood, was elected aldermanic president in 2007. He served as Sixth Ward alderman from 1999 until he became board president.

To deal with crime, Reed has a comprehensive plan that includes both supporting police and going after the root causes of crime. He notes that he got the Board of Aldermen last year to approve a comprehensive public safety plan.

“When you think about public safety, you have to think about beyond just policing, which is why I put in place Cure Violence,” Reed said. In that program, “interrupters” intervene in the lives of people in danger of entering a life of crime.

Reed also would like to see efforts to help at-risk people to get jobs. While the city’s unemployment rate is about 5-6 percent, the rate for young African-Americans north of Delmar Boulevard might be 20-25 percent, he said.

Reed stressed what he sees as the need to get shooters off the streets and increase public safety.

“There’s a growing movement to group all police officers under the same veil as bad police officers. My brother’s a police officer down in Alabama. So I know that not all police officers are bad, and I know that we need effective police officers in the City of St. Louis.”

Speaking of COVID-19, Reed said it could have a long-term effect on the city. After the pandemic is gone, some businesses still may allow their employees to stay home.

“The number of people working downtown is essential to about a third of the city’s budget,” Reed noted. “We need to really keep an eye on that.”

It’s important that the city keep in charge of the distribution of vaccines, Reed said.

Letting people know about vaccination sites through the internet doesn’t help people who don’t have a computer, Reed said.

“It’s not just enough to say that we’re going to put the [vaccine] in CVS pharmacies and Walgreens if some of the communities north of Delmar, they don’t have a whole long list of CVS Pharmacies,” Reed said. “In the south side, you can find CVS pharmacies, Walgreens, within communities, with easy access.”

Reed said that for routine services such as trash collection, studies and technology might improve delivery and conditions in general. A better operational system might lower costs while improving the environment and lower carbon emissions, and new systems to deal with the waste might help to adaptively reuse it, he said.

This is one of a series of articles about the 2021 candidates for mayor.

Jim Merkel

southsidemerkel@gmail.com Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit www.jimmerkelthewriter.com.

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