The President of the Board of Aldermen can be a key leader in our City’s system, both as the legislative leader of the Board of Aldermen and as an operational check and balance as part of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment. We need new, bold leadership who will put people first, and will not let personality and petty politics get in the way of good policy.
As President of the Board of Aldermen, I will reform how the Board does business. It will no longer run as by the rule of petty politics. I will make decisions — from who sits on what committee to how to assign bills to committee — based on good policy, not on personality.
You should know how your alderman voted, and it should be easier to engage with your government. We will enhancing digital democracy and bring more transparency by requiring that all committee votes are posted online within 48 hours of the vote, all committee hearings are live-streamed, and the exhibits to board bills and the financial analysis documents aldermen receive are posted online.
We can’t fix City Hall with elected officials who are funded by the same interests who benefit from the status quo. Cities all across this country are moving toward publicly financed campaign systems in which residents receive “Democracy Vouchers” to donate to their preferred candidates or small donor matching ystems in which a candidate’s small-dollar contributions are matched with public dollars. This system empowers residents and makes candidates accountable to voters, not mega-political donors seeking tax breaks.
While republicans like Rex Sinquefield are working to privatize our largest asset, Lambert Airport, as a way to make profits off of busting unions and increasing fees on consumers, I pledge to vote against any efforts to privatize any city assets including our airport, water department, and refuse department.
For too long, special interests have dictated business in City Hall. It’s time to involve the people in their government, making government more transparent, less corrupt, and more driven by what the people want.
We will engage citizens in prioritizing how we spend money by enacting participatory budgeting at the ward-level and at the city-wide level. Participatory budget gives residents a direct say in how City funds are spent.
The idea of a City/County merger has been the talk of the town in recent years. A merger has the potential to streamline government, but it also has the potential to create a lot of problems, increase inequality, and threaten the employment protections of our firefighters and other public employees. Today’s current conversations are led by a right-wing billionaire and big business — our community deserves better. We need a diverse coalition of interests to investigate a potential merger and ways we can streamline government. The ultimate decision to merge needs to be decided by a vote of the people.
After the next census, the City will decrease the number of wards from 28 to 14. The process for re-drawing the ward map should be open, transparent, and led by St. Louisans — not by politicians behind closed doors. We should establish a citizen-led redistricting commission that draws lines based upon community needs with the support of an independent agency. This is one area where we can learn from what other cities have done, engage with fair redistricting efforts of organizations like the Brennan Center for Justice , and pass sample legislation drafted by students at Washington University in St. Louis that would ensure equity remains at the center of our redistricting discussion.
Invest in proven crime prevention models, like Operation Peacemaker, which reduced crime in Richmond, CA by 61%. Add social workers to the police department to address issues associated with mental health, substance abuse, and housing instability. Increase investments housing, healthcare, and treatment to address root causes of crime.
Currently 90-95% of the people who are incarcerated at the Workhouse are there because they cannot afford bail. A person of means would wait for their court date at home, while people who are poor sit in jail for months or years without being convicted of a crime. We must eliminate cash bail, release people on their on recognizance, and close down the Workhouse. We can use a participatory budgeting process to reallocate the $16 million in savings per year to crime prevention, including a pilot of a basic income.
For too long, St. Louis has invested in an “arrest and incarcerate” model that strains the relationship between police and the community while failing to address the root causes of crime in our community. We can’t make the city safer without addressing poverty, the lack of opportunity, mental health, and drug addiction. We should use the Ferguson Commission Report, the For Sake of All Report, recommendations from President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and Campaign Zero as blueprints as we re-envision public safety to invest in people.
As the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommended, we should mandate the adoption of rules and policies that emphasize the guardian role of police — a role defined by procedural justice, respect, and the protection of human rights — in order for police officers to be eligible for raises. Similarly, we should use incentive pay to encourage police officers to live in high-need, high-crime areas of the City.
The City has limited public safety resources. How those resources are used should be prioritized, and marijuana shouldn’t be at the top of the list. The city’s police resources should be focused on violent crime and other crimes that threaten the safety of our neighborhoods — not on enforcing marijuana laws against responsible adults.
We should continue to strengthen and reform the Civilian Oversight Board to ensure it has the adequate authority to thoroughly investigate complaints against police officers. This should include giving the Civilian Oversight Board subpeona power, as even Mayor Krewson agrees.
The Police Department’s response to protests and other demonstrations has been haphazard, ad hoc, and improvised. We should work with the police to develop a comprehensive demonstration response plan that respects First Amendment Rights and is modeled on best practices from the Washington, DC ordinance.
Body cameras can reduce use of force incidents if used correctly. But they can also threaten civil rights if the proper policies aren’t in place first. So we need body cameras and strong policies that protect witnesses and victims of crime, dictate how they must be used by officers and how data is stored and used, and provide specification on who has access to the footage.
The Trump Administration allows our Police Department to acquire military surplus equipment. But our Police Department should be better than that — the City should not accept military surplus or other military-grade equipment.
One the Ferguson Commission’s calls to action was to create a use of force database. The City should lead the way by creating a use of force database that is accessible online and that sets the standard for the rest of Missouri.
Missouri currently has the 17th most cases of Human Trafficking reported in the country. The City should adopt laws and policies that penalize the demand for commercial sex while decriminalizing individuals in prostitution and providing them with support services, including help for those who wish to exit prostitution.
Nuisance ordinances need to respect due process rights while also providing the City with the ability to take action against properties that have continued nuisance ordinance violations. Previously, we worked to exempt victims of domestic violence from the nuisance ordinance, to ensure that perpetrators — not victims — are the ones held accountable under the ordinance. We need to build upon this by exempting all victims of crimes from being charged with a public nuisance violation, carving out people with disabilities from being evicted under the nuisance ordinance, and providing notice of a public nuisance to all tenants with opportunity for the tenant to meet with City prosecutors to discuss abatement of the nuisance before eviction proceedings
Fund our Schools and Ask the Rich to Pay Their Fair Share
The City of St. Louis has over $8 billion in developmentthat is in progress or planned. Everytime the Board of Aldermen issues a tax break for wealthy developers to build luxury homes or sports stadiums our schools lose out on revenue that they need to operate. Underfunded schools exacerbate crime rates and poverty levels. It’s time that we require that millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share of taxes so we can fund our schools, provide basic city services like trash pick up, and pay living wages to all City employees. It is time that we have a city-wide plan for development that meets community needs.
Over the last 15 years in St. Louis, we have seen $700 million in foregone tax revenue from TIFs and tax-abatements. The majority of these investment have gone into the wealthiest wards in the City and have resulted in the significant displacement of low-income African Americans from these areas. Essentially, the progress that is being seen in some areas is not being felt by the people who have long resided in those areas. The City should be more responsible about our development by limiting subsidies to projects that cannot happen without them and requiring Community Benefits in exchange for subsidies.
Developers should be required to provide specific amenities or mitigations to the local neighborhood in exchange for tax-incentives or the development being able to locate in that area. Community benefits sometimes also include elements of Inclusionary Zoning or an Affordable Housing Impact Program.
Cities around the country are leading the way on eliminating barriers to employment for working people. From Fair Workweek Scheduling to paid sick leave policies, and from ending Credit Discrimination to fighting worker misclassification, we should learn from what other cities are doing and starting leading in the City of St. Louis.
Too often the City’s economic decisions fall hard on low- and middle-income families. We already have some of the highest sales taxes in the country. Regressive taxes, like sales taxes, disproportionately harm low and middle income families. We must re-evaluate our taxation system. Explore progressive taxation systems such as increasing the payroll tax on big businesses, requiring companies with three or more AirBnB rentals pay hotel taxes, and eliminating the loophole that allows large property owners to not pay into the refuse system.
Over 70% of greenhouse emissions in St. Louis come from buildings. We much require that projects receiving tax incentives adhere to green building standards. I also support the passage of a bond measure to retrofit old buildings to make them green. We need a city-wide plan for traffic management to cut down on the number of stop signs that create idling cars, which impact air quality. Build upon the Ready for 100resolution that was passed by the Board of Aldermen to transition St. Louis to 100% clean energy.
St. Louis is the center of the modern day Civil Rights Movement, and our City should be a national leader in ensuring that every citizen — no matter their race, sexual orientation, religion, or gender identification — sees City Hall as an ally.
The City should establish an office on Racial and Social Justice, attach racial equity notes to each piece of legislation, and establishment of a 25-year fund to support racial equity like Charlottesville. Although our leaders have failed us in many ways, it’s not too late to lead on race relations.
The City should require all employees (including police officers) undergo anti-bias training. By understanding the issues related to topics such as implicit bias, racial profiling, fair and impartial policing, cultural and religious responsiveness, and concerns related to special groups, including citizens with mental illness and members of the LGBTQ community, city employees will be better able to understand the citizens they encounter, treat them fairly, and foster trust and mutual respect in diverse communities.
The City also needs to be a leader in transgender rights by adopting the workplace practices outlines in the Trans Equality Toolkit to support our transgender and gender non-conforming community. The City can also set an example for the rest of the state by banning conversion therapy.
We should ensure people with disabilities are being protected by strengthening the Office on the Disabled, ensuring adequate housing protections for people with disabilities under municipal ordinances, and developing an Audit St. Louis’ Sidewalks program to create a more accessible community.
Create a basic income pilot program in accordance with the recommendations of the National League of Cities to combat the effects of growing income inequality and economic insecurity in our City from the savings from closing down the Workhouse.
Navigating City Hall can be cumbersome. The Board of Aldermen should establish a red tape commission that works with small businesses on streamlining proceses, fees, and taxes to make it easier to do business in the City of St. Louis.
While it is unlikely that we will recruit a Fortune 500 company to St. Louis, we can grow the next Fortune 500 Company in St. Louis by investing in the creation of living wage jobs. St. Louis has a booming tech industry, and a deficit in tech workers, causing many start-ups to leave. As a City, we can invest in organizations like LaunchCode to help them train the high-skills workforce that we need to grow as a City.