The Board of Alderman President debate was Saturday evening at Harris Stowe University. The candidates delve into topics such as what they think the most important role of the Board of Aldermen President is, stance on city ward reductions, stance our Lambert Airport being private, stance on the current budget allocation in the city, plus questions from the people sponsors. Prior to the debate, the audience was given a booklet of responses to ten questions answered by each candidate.
When introducing themselves, each candidate had something to prove. Jamilah Nasheed is a former member of the Missouri House of Representatives and a current member of the Missouri Senate, says she wants to see results and believes that the city is going backwards. Megan Green, a former educator and current member of the Missouri Democratic Party, says she is tired of St. Louis for known as something bad; she wants to reduce the crime, fix the development system, the neighborhoods, as well as other issues. Current Aldermen President Lewis Green has been in his position for 12 years and says he has touched each sector of the community and transformed the school system ack to accreditation.
When answering the first question about what each candidate believed the most important role(s) should be of the Alderman President, candidate Nasheed says the current Aldermen President is unethical and the current board of Aldermen have been broken and says President Lewis Reed did not implement new policies. Reed responded stating that he’s created youth employment, summer jobs and again brought school accreditation. Candidate Green says the President of Aldermen role is to shape the city budget by setting its priorities and approving contracts. She adds that the role is creating a legislative agenda and assigning individual Aldermen and bills to committees to make the agenda move.
Things got heated between Nasheed and Reed when the next question was about what each candidate did in their previous position to actualize the recommendations of the Ferguson Commission report. In her response [in the booklet], Nasheed says she has “co-sponsored legislation to limit use of lethal force; secured funding to increase resources for higher education; community building for youth and families, and other services to help the most vulnerable.” Reed outlined that he “supported and provided a committee structure to allow the passage of legislation: creation of a million-dollar fund for at-risk youth program services, amend the budget to add money to recreation centers” and many more. Also, in response to Nasheed’s answers, Reed says she has been one of the worst people in office to advance the community. He adds that even though she’s a democrat, she voted on the republican’s side of certain bills and she’s cut unemployment benefits. In response to Reed’s allegations, Nasheed says Reed has lied on financial reports, and he’s currently lying on her. When it comes to deciding votes, Nasheed says Lewis was a deciding vote to dismantle the 20thWard. If that isn’t steamy enough, Lewis called candidate Nasheed a double agent multiple times during the debate and Nasheed traded insult stating he was “Lying Lewis.”
The next set of questions involved incarceration. Green says we already over incarcerate and we don’t need another jail, adding that we should try to lift people up and building new jails is not going to help that. Nasheed agreed with her and says instead of new jails, we need to focus on more opportunities for young men, so they don’t have to pick up a gun. One question asked if each candidate supported the demand to close the Medium Security Institute, also known as The Workhouse; Lewis says he supports it, but he wants to change the messaging behind, adding that [in the booklet] the underlying system of cash bail is the problem and not, per se, The Workhouse. He says, “if the city closes the building, that doesn’t prevent the same people with cash bail being housed at some other institution outside of the City of St. Louis.”
Next topic about privatization at Lambert Airport brought about a lot of dialogue. Candidate Green says we shouldn’t focus on that now, doesn’t believe we should be spending time on it. Candidate Nasheed that if people can’t have the option to vote on it then she doesn’t want to support it at all. President Lewis says he thinks we should study it and attacks Nasheed’s stance on it. Nasheed responded stating that President Lewis could’ve broke the vote on if people should vote on the privatization of the airport, but he was allegedly nowhere to be found.
Another discussion was the budget allocation and how more than 60% percent of it is currently devoted to Public Safety with the majority of the funds going to police, prosecution, and jails. When asked if they agreed with the allocation, candidate Green says she doesn’t agree with the budget and that we shouldn’t spend that much on policing but instead funding social services. Candidate Nasheed stance is pretty much the same, stating “we need to allocate more funding for human services, education, reentry and rehabilitation.” Adding that we need to “ensure affordable housing is accessible to everyone even if it means making room in the budget to do so.” President Reed says he acknowledges that he voted on the budget but also wants to reduce fund allocation in certain areas.
Each candidate was asked specific questions on their stance on certain topics. When asked if he was ready for re-election since he’s ran for mayor twice, President Lewis said yes confidently. Candidate Green is a supporter of weed decriminalization, when asked what she wants to see with that, she says she wants to change marijuana laws, and make it a priority to set up businesses like the ones in Oakland, California. President Lewis was asked about his favor on taxing for the soccer stadium and he says we need to put people to work through economic development. Candidate Nasheed was asked about her stance on pushing 10-year minimum sentencing for gun crime and mandatory sentencing. She responded that she is not for the push if the crimes are nonviolent, however when it comes to someone picking up a gun a deliberately shooting someone, she is all for that push.
These candidates put up a great debate and they all have some valid points with their stance on the current issues. May the best candidate win!
Make sure you visit each candidate’s website to check out their stance on other issues in the community.
President of Aldermen Board Lewis Reed:
Candidate Jamilah Nasheed:
Candidate Megan Ellyia Green: