Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Response from Lewis Reed, President of the Board of Aldermen Candidate

1. What do you view as the key role(s) of this position?  What do you view as the important attributes needed for this position? 

The key roles of President of the Board of Aldermen are to represent the interests of the citizens of St. Louis City, make sound fiscal decisions as a member of the Board of Estimate & Apportionment, Review & weigh-in on legislation as it moves through the Board of Aldermen, fairly & effectively appoint members to the Board of Aldermen standing committees, and effectively manage the Board of Aldermen full board meetings.

Key Attributes:

  1. Being able to bring broad constituency groups to the table to be able to develop a position that is best for all of St. Louis.
  2. Knowledge of city government, budgets and the legislative process
  3. Ability to community to others and get their support on issues of importance

2. Why do you think you are the best person for President of the Board of Aldermen?  What differentiates you from your opponent(s)?

  1. Experience
  2. Ability to work with people all across the city
  3. Proven leadership
  4. Track record of involving the community in decisions that affect them

3. What education (schools attended, degrees attained), experience, and attributes do you have that qualify you for this position?

  1. Currently in my 2nd term as President of the Board of Aldermen
  2. Former Aldermen of the 6th Ward for six years.
  3. Work history includes being Director of Network & Telecommunications for the Edison Brothers Stores world-wide operations and manager of data networks for SSM Health Businesses.
  4. Attended Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville majoring in mathematics and computer science

4. The police-involved shootings of Mike Brown, Kajieme Powell, VonDerrit Myers, and Antonio Martin have focused attention on racial inequality, economic disparity, and policing practices in the St. Louis region as well as the country as a whole.  What can you do as President of the Board of Aldermen to address those issues?  What lessons have we learned, or should we learn, from these events and the subsequent unrest in our community?

  1. Make committee appointments in an equitable manner that will make sure all voices are heard 
  2. Work to make sure resources of the city of St. Louis go toward addressing some of these concerns.
  3. Support legislation to address some of these issues
  4. Continue to support minority inclusion in public works projects
  5. Allow a platform for residents to voice their concerns and work with them and the Police Department to develop solutions.
  6. Provide opportunities for the Police department and the residents to build a better relationship with one another.
  7. We have learned that no community can prosper long while leaving a group of its citizens behind and that a police force needs to have a relationship with the community it serves.  

5. Besides #4, what do you feel are the most pressing issues currently facing this office and what plans do you have to address these issues? (please be specific)

  1. Increasing our population
  2. Violent crime
  3. Education
  4. Health, including mental health
  5. Voter participation

6. Describe how you work with, or will work with, others to address your priorities.

One example was the redistricting process in 2010.  The redistricting process 10 years prior was a very contention affair, and brought a lot of negative attention to the city of St. Louis.

What I decided to do was in 2010, as President of the Board, was to set up work groups among the aldermen and had them sit together with those aldermen that bordered their ward to work out amongst themselves (while keeping within map’s legal guidelines) what areas on the map they were willing to give up or accept in order for us to have a fair and legal map.

The result was that for the first time in history we had a redistricting board bill pass with every aldermen on it as a co-sponsor and it passed unanimously.  With you involve everyone at the table you come out with much better results.

7. St. Louis City voters approved reducing the number of Aldermen; how do you feel about this change?  Are there other city government changes you would like to see?

I don’t believe that will do much to move the needle on moving this city forward.  For certain wards in St. Louis a large chunk of the calls the aldermen receive are for constituent service calls that are a result of a lack of population and a lack of tax base (pot holes, rusted dumpsters, tall grass on vacant lots).  By reducing the number of Aldermen, we are not reducing the number of service requests, and only doubling the number of calls for service some of the aldermen will receive.  In order to move this city forward we will have to do things that increase our tax base and bring in new people.

8. How would you work to foster economic development in the City of St. Louis?

  1. Support small businesses
  2. Involve the community in determining what the city needs
  3. Use incentives that make sense and have a definite return on investment for the community
  4. Include our universities in some of our planning efforts

9. What is your opinion of Paul McKee's Northside Regeneration Project?  Do you believe this large scale project will be more effective than smaller, grassroots development of the area; why or why not?

I’m not sure if the overall project would be more effective than multiple grassroots development projects, but a big influx of development all at once (if it happens) would have an immediate positive economic impact.  Currently, the project seems to be stalled and with all of the land the project owns that of course is not a good thing.  It is a huge endeavor, and it may come to a point where it has to be broken down into smaller areas and with some areas taken over by other development teams.  The development of that area would be great if it can happen, but it remains to be seen if it is just too large a project for one developer to handle.

10. Neighborhood safety is always an important topic in the ward.  What have / will you do to address safety in city neighborhoods?

  1. Sponsored legislation that set up Crime prevention fund that puts in place $1 million dollars annually to support youth crime prevention programs
  2. Supported summer youth job programs throughout my years of service an elected official.
  3. Supported legislation that has kept jobs in the city of St. Louis
  4. Championed the Nextdoor neighborhood social network app which helps neighbors stay informed of what is going on in their neighborhood 

11. What impact can the President of the Board of Aldermen have on the education situation in St. Louis City and what have / would your initiatives in this area include?

  1. The President of the Board of Alderman has an appointment to the Special Administrative Board
  2. I have developed a civic initiative & community engagement program to be implemented in the public schools.  We had a pilot group of students at Vashon last year.  I envision it being a citywide program to help teach young people the value of getting involved in their community and decisions that are being made that will affect their community. 
  3. As President of the Board of Aldermen I have also always made it a point to fund, as much as possible, charitable programs that will provide the ‘wrap-around’ social services that many children need in order to be productive in school. 

12. How would you propose to solve the budget problem of increasing pension costs for City of St. Louis employees?

The first thing we need is a reliable report of our current pension situation and what it will hold for the future if things do not change.  With that information at hand we should bring all parties to the table, lay out the facts, and begin to work toward a solution together so that everyone that has been promised a pension will have one and that service to our citizens will not suffer because of that promise.

13. What have / would you do to raise the prominence of St. Louis nationally? 

14. If you could ask your opponent(s) one question, what would it be?

I don’t have a question for my opponent.

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