Neighborhood: McKinley Heights
Occupation: Senior Business Analyst at Wells Fargo
Political experience: None previous
Your take on crime: Studies (and real-life examples) from around the nation, and the world, have shown that policies that are “smart on crime” show much better results than ones that focus on being “tough on crime.” We cannot out-police our issues with crime, we instead need to reevaluate and reallocate funds away from a system that clearly isn’t working, and try a new bold path forward. While 54% of the city’s General Fund is allocated to Public Safety, only .05% is spent on Health and Human Services. At the same time, St. Louis has some of the highest rates of infant mortality, STD/STIs, and gun violence in the Country. In 2017, nearly 75% of the heroin overdose deaths in the state of Missouri occurred in St. Louis. All of these issues can be addressed by greater investments in public health. I am in favor of the implementation and expansion of public health approaches to public safety, such as ones like Cure Violence. We not only need these types of programs in St. Louis, we have to make sure that they are implemented correctly by organizations that have the grassroots level connections to address intra-community violence.
Your take on city finances: First I think that in order to address some of the issues around finances, we need to encourage a minimum living wage of $15/hour to be paid to all employees in the city of St. Louis. We can do this by requiring that all development projects in the city not only pay living wages in the construction process, but also to all people who are employed in the building once it is constructed. I also think that I think that TIFs and tax abatements need to be used to provide for the public good, and help create development in areas of the city that have experienced decades of disinvestment. It is imperative that we examine tax incentives that subsidize wealthy developers and corporations in stable areas of our city. City-wide, we should look to scale back the use of tax incentives, and significantly reduce (to almost completely phasing out) abatements for single-family homes, unless they are to support the creation of affordable housing. However, I think that these decisions should not be relegated to a ward level only; we are in strong need of a city-wide plan for tax-incentive use. Lastly, I think that with the abrupt introduction of the pandemic, it has highlighted (and created) an even greater need for affordable housing in our City. My first priority would be to expand access to affordable housing through increasing funding to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Another top priority of mine is making sure that our youth are not left behind. I would like to implement programs that better prepare our youth to be a part of the 21st-century workforce. Next, I would like to expand the Cops and Clinicians programs, to invest in; social workers, substance abuse managers, and mental health workers. Those areas need to be better insulated to help address the root causes of crime in our community through connections to resources. Lastly, we need a dedicated stream of funding in perpetuity for arterial street paving. Our streets are in desperate need of repair, and the current minimal ward capital funds are not enough to address these deficiencies.
Your take on the city’s COVID-19 response: I feel that it has been reactionary at best. While we have overall abided by the rules and guidance of the CDC, to include the city’s current leadership guidelines, we have been slow to move on mortgage assistance, and better process measures around vaccination deployment.
Where do you place yourself on the political spectrum? – Progressive, moderate, conservative, liberal? Progressive