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Waiting to Endorse Candidates

November 14, 2006 Local Business 15 Comments

For what it is worth, I do plan to endorse candidates in the upcoming municipal elections in the City of St. Louis. While people are already lining up behind this person or that person I want to share my thoughts on endorsements.

First, I will not be supporting anyone that is unopposed. It is just downright silly to see people endorse someone that has no challenger. That simply means your endorsement is worthless.

Second, I will not be supporting anyone until after campaign finance reports due on January 25th, 2007 are filed and I’ve had a chance to review them. I want to know, before I recommend a candidate, where their money is coming from — who is behind their candidacy. This is especially important this election since the campaign finance limits are getting tossed aside as of January 1st. Again, we won’t really know who is funding these races until late January and for me that makes a difference.

In municipal elections I could care less about political party — Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian or Independent. The Democrat’s National Platform doesn’t appear to speak to issues of say transportation or smart growth. The Missouri Democrats don’t have any platform at all, at least none that I could find. And the St. Louis City Democrats barely have a website, much less a coherent platform relevant to local issues. Where do local Democrats stand on smart growth, regional cooperation (consolidation?), transportation funding, and affordable housing? We are all expected to blindly vote for Democrats without any expectation of a vision. Oh sure, they say catchy phrases like they will, “improve the quality of our neighborhoods” but what does that mean? How specifically will they accomplish this task? Are they doing to work with others in the region to limit the affects of sprawl on the city and inner-ring suburbs? Maybe they are going to adopt new zoning? It is hard to say you are going to improve something until you cite that which needs improving — what is it in the neighborhoods that could be changed so as to create a higher quality environment?

Basically the Democratic stronghold on St. Louis politics has left them complacent on local issues. The group, currently led by Brian Wahby, focuses on state and national elections, local elections being an assumed. They’ve never had a reason to elaborate on a vision or strategies for lifting St. Louis out of decades of population decline. Through countless administrations the solution has been one mega “silver bullet” project after another — mostly downtown. This same flawed logic continues today with the idea that is what is good for downtown is good for the rest of the city. This has some truth in it but it can only go so far.

Until the Democrats, as a local party, demonstrate they collectively can agree on a vision and course of action I will certainly not give a blanket endorsement to voting for Democrats. Sadly, the Republicans are no better in this area and are virtually non-existant in this town. The Greens and Libertarians actually have some good ideas but they tend to focus all their energy (and limited resources) on running candidates for Mayor or Governor. I’d like to see one or both of these parties put together a competent candidacy for the open 6th Ward aldermanic seat.

Now that I think about all the flaws in local politics, come February I may not endorse a single person.


Currently there are "15 comments" on this Article:

  1. Brad Mello says:

    FYI — a brief history lesson today — when Nixon used to say he’d improve neighborhoods and keep them safe he meant that he’d keep blacks out — although Nixon denied that it was his policy — I somehow doubt that’s what STL Dems mean but I find such innocous phrases somewhere between useless and dangerous is politics.

  2. no contest says:

    What will be the real contested elections in the city?

    It’s even wards for the aldermanic.

    There’s the 6th and 22nd ward races.

    Any other challenges besides the aldermanic presidency?

    Will Bauer seek a return to office in the 24th ward?


    Do city voters vote more on vision and planning or constituent service? I suspect the latter.

    [UR — I suspect you are correct on constituent service — that is how political machines have historically maintained control. I am attempting to reframe the elections away from personal constituent service and toward a meaningful discussion about the future direction of the city and region.]

  3. StlMark says:

    I would like to see public debates for all offices. I found the recent school board debates to be quite helpful toward making a personal voting decision.

  4. Jim Zavist says:

    Steve – you’re sounding almost as cynical as I feel . . .

  5. Maurice says:

    Does that mean I won’t have your endoresment Steve?

  6. dave devore says:

    Unfortunately not one candidate will address real items for progressive change such as required net metering practices by AmerenUE to promote alternative energy like solar panels or small windmills on new “green homes” or on businesses. (in 35 states this is mandatory, not here).

    Wouldn’t it be nice to actually have an E85 ethanol gas pump in the city limits? What Alderman will insist on that when approving a new QT or gas station in the city?

  7. Lisa says:

    Hi. I am a student at Columbia College Chicago. I am writing about aldermen and nepotism. If anyone would like to share their thoughts and opinions with me, please email me at: [email protected]

  8. GMichaud says:

    It is time for a manifesto. Wikipedia says a manifesto is a public declaration of principles and intentions, often political in nature. There has been many manifestos, some important such as the Communist Manifesto, some with less importance like the SCUM Manifesto by a hanger on of Andy Warhols group. Wikipedia lists many titles.

    Steve you are correct, there are no platforms, no ideas, no issues to discuss as presented by the Democratic or Republican Party. I donÂ’t see how it can be avoided; others outside the power structure must begin to act in their place. Much of the material on this blog is already part of a manifesto. It is simply not organized as whole so it can be compared to the lame efforts put forth by Democrats and Republicans.

    It is pretty clear that the people pulling the strings intend to milk as much personal gain out of the American people as they can, even if it jeopardizes the our lives now and the future of our children.

    The Highway 40 debacle is a perfect example of this unwillingness to change, to think in different ways, to consider new solutions. I dread to think how bad conditions must get for these people to express different ideas.It is the proof of the ongoing incompetence of MODOT, EWGCG and people like them who pat themselves on the back and say “we are the leaders.” Yelling it over and over to convince themselves and everyone else it is true.

    The last gasp of the earth is going to be the black smoke of billion dollar profits for the oil industry. At that point Democrats and Republicans will not matter any more. They will only cry at their missed opportunities for change.

    I honestly donÂ’t see a way out other than the rising up of a new leadership from the legions of the American people. A new revolution of thinking and seeing that makes the current Democratic change in Congress appear as if they are standing still. And they are. Just as you point out. The urban review is an urban manifesto.

  9. questioner says:

    I have some questions for the readers of this blog: would an endorsement from blogger Steve Patterson move your vote? Don’t you have to have some sort of authority to make an endorsement?

    I don’t mean this to be snarky–I am actually curious. And if it would move your vote, would it move it moreso than if a friend you respected told you he was suporting a candidate? Does Steve have some authoritative weight because he is a blogger?

    [UR — I think I can chime in on this question. First, I’m already being asked by candidates to endorse them so at least they feel like I hold some level of influence with a certain segment of the population.

    And with the exceptions of a few posts here and there, I think people tend to follow my line of reasoning and consider my a trusted source. That doesn’t mean I can sway their vote but many people ask me to weigh on these issues.

    Keep in mind I keep this all in perspective, I started off this post with, “For what it is worth…” You can decide if my endorsement means anything or not. Trust me, if you don’t care for my urbanist take on these candidates and issues you are free to ignore them or even do the opposite, no sweat off my back.

    But what does give someone authority is a good question. A small group of folks in a ward committee? How about a committeeman & woman in a closed ward? What about someone that prints a small paper — a “publisher” rather than a blogger — does that automatically give them authority to make endorsements? The real issue is if the candidates seek an endorsement or not and if the voters pay any attention. I have both candidates and voters asking for my thoughts so I does appear that I have some authority in this area —- like it or not.]

  10. josh wiese says:

    Dear lord!!!….as a Democrat it pains me to see the MO Dems not have a coherent platform or any kind of semblence of an organization. My hope is that I’m missing it or maybe I didnt see that press release or it’s buried on their website….(note the sarcasm)

    I just finished working on campaigns in Illinois and saw firsthand how a coherent message and a party thats organized (and well funded) can make a difference- why cant we have that here?

    Even though they arent in my ward, the 6th ward race seems like it will actually be kinda interesting to watch due to the candidates- all of them seem fairly progressive and hopefully their ideas for their ward and the city might morph into some other races. I’m curious to see who you support in that one steve

    Oh yeah, Bauer in the 24th is raising funds is what I’m hearing. I havent heard a peep as far as another candidate other than Waterhouse/Bauer- should be a doozy

  11. john says:

    No platforms, no ideas,… no WAY! Good for you in making a strong statement. You often state, as do your readers, that locals are reluctant to change. No where is this more obvious than the continuing habit of re-electing the same party into power.

    This blog is about urban design and thus (perhaps?) views on candidates should be based from this perspective. Urban design denotes a large platform of issues including codes, trees, transportation, developments, preservation, and even parking meters!

    From a broader perspective, this blog is about accountability. If there is one issue that locals are reluctant to change it is this.

    If you are being solicited to use this blog for votes, then that says a mouthfull on what these “leaders” think about your readers.

  12. QuikTripper says:

    Rumor is QT is going in at Manchester and McCausland.

    That ought to galvanize some residents in the 24th ward aldermanic race.

  13. LisaS says:

    Actually, the state Democratic party does have a platform: “One baby step left of the Republicans.”

    The local Democrats–in the City, at least–don’t seem to need a platform, and a unified one wouldn’t serve the disparate constituencies served. Think about the diversity of views in the primary races for seats in the state legislature. The political dynasties were represented. There were a few more progressive thinkers. And there were a few people like Gambaro who probably would have been a better fit with the Republican party idealogically, but knew that they’d never have a prayer in the City as a Republican.

  14. A strong Republican who is able to raise money, give excellent speeches, as well as have a great GOTV strategy, could win in the City.

    I am not sure Gambaro could have beat Smith, as I didn’t think his public speaking abilities were very good, but if a strong Republican came forward for some local level race, then that person could spend his time raising money while the Democrats fight amongst themselves.

    Honestly, it is pathetic to see 3 people running for an Aldermanic Race! A Democratic cannot pave streets or issue subsidy any better than a Republican! People need to stop running on the Democratic ticket, especially if they are associated with the GOP! It is dishonest and shows a lack of balls.

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