Endorsements and Predictions for March 6 Election
Well, I've been out of the blogosphere the past few weeks because the new job certainly keeps me busy. We spent most of last week in Jefferson City for an annual conference, and I did get a chance to check in with a few of our local legislators (Jeff Smith, Rachel Storch, and of course Jeanette Mott Oxford, among others), and met a bunch of very interesting people from around the state.
Anyway, local politics moves forward, and I attended the get-together last night at The Royale. I got to see a number of folks I haven't seen for quite a while.
Here are some of my thoughts on the upcoming municipal election. I will be unable to be a tech spec this time because of my new job commitments, but I certainly will vote!
My expectation is turnout on March 6 will be less than 20% citywide; but maybe closer to 30% in the few truly competitive wards: 4, 6, 12, 20, 22, and 24.
Board President -- Most people know I'm a huge Jim Shrewsbury supporter. Again, maybe turnout will be higher in certain wards that support Lewis Reed than I think, but the traditionally high turnout areas like 16 and 23 tend to vote for Shrewsbury. I'm not sure the endorsements for Reed by aldermen carry that much weight; after all, Democratic committeepeople make endorsements in Democratic primaries. That's pretty much their entire job at this point, since over the years constituent service has been taken over by the aldermen.
Ward 4 -- I predict O.L. Shelton will win re-election, but it could be closer than I think. I don't want to make an endorsement though.
Ward 6 -- I would love for Christian Saller to win... but I suspect Patrick Cacchione will get this seat. Christian is a great guy and very smart about development finance, but Cacchione is a party regular (despite his contributions to a few Republicans). Kacie Starr Triplett will probably finish 2nd though.
Ward 12 -- I really don't know how to gauge the Republican primary here. I'm thinking Fred Heitert will win re-election, but Matt Browning certainly has good name recognition among supporters of Police and Fire unions who are pretty strong in this area, as well as in 16 and 23. But I'll really be interested to see what happens in April... still I think Heitert is pretty safe.
Ward 18, to my mind, is not competitive. Sorry Bill Haas, but what compelling reason would folks have to boot out their own neighborhood Kennedy dynasty? ;-)
Ward 20 -- Of course, I'm a huge supporter of Craig Schmid, and I strongly believe he will win reelection. While Galen has good energy and some interesting ideas, I don't really see how they are significantly different from what Craig is already doing. And, somebody will probably give me crap for saying this, but I have to disagree with the following statement by Steve Patterson:
"Unfortunately, I also think [Schmid] is stuck in a previous decade where running out the bad element was the first order of the day."
Craig Schmid's experience in this area is exactly why we need to keep him another four years! He understands, intimately, the crime problems we have in this community, and that the Police Department does not always respond in an adequate way. Sure, the USDOJ can say we've "graduated" from the Weed & Seed program; but that doesn't mean we're done with combating crime! It just means the Feds won't give us any more money for it.
Each block in the 20th Ward is a little different, but many of them still have huge problems with gang and drug activity, not to mention irresponsible absentee landlords, illegal dumping, etc. Yes, there's more that could be done; but also understand these ward boundaries are very porous; you can be walking down the street and be in the 20th in one block, the 9th in the next block, maybe even the 15th, 6th or 7th if you keep going a few more blocks. It's all the Third Police District though, so that's where the coordination needs to originate, over on Sublette Avenue.
I have no interest in publicly impugning Galen Gondolfi; I simply believe Craig Schmid's experience and expertise are still needed in order for our neighborhoods to get better.
Ward 22 -- This is yet another rematch in the Jeff Boyd vs. Kenny Jones saga; but Jay Ozier, committeeman, is taking up the mantle of Kenny Jones. Recall that some years back, Jeff Boyd was fired as executive director at Union West Community Corp because Kenny Jones didn't like him. Anyway, Boyd has that professional expertise (after getting fired, he went to work for the City of Ferguson as economic development director, while still living in the 22nd ward), and while there are many huge obstacles to redevelopment in that area, if anyone can make it happen, it'll be Jeff Boyd.
Ward 24 -- Bill Waterhouse has been in for such a short time, but already the ward's albatross, St. Louis Marketplace, has landed at least one new major occupant: Weissman's Designs for Dance. Actually, they've purchased the entire western section of the center. It still looks vacant, so that needs to be addressed, but it's being converted to their distribution and warehouse facility, including a small retail store. How anybody could support Tom Bauer after he got recalled, and after the tragic, painfully slow demolition of the Clifton Heights Presbyterian Church, is beyond my comprehension.
Then again, it's ironic that QuikTrip may be building on the former Big Lots site, after having lost their bid for eminent domain on the NE corner of Manchester and McCausland. I guess that speaks to the persistence of such large corporations to get the exact site they want, with the right traffic counts and demographics, etc.