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Mayoral Candidates Make Their Case at Debate

March 31, 2009 Downtown, Events/Meetings, Politics/Policy 22 Comments

Three of the four candidates for St. Louis Mayor participated in a 90 minute debate before a large crowd at the St. Louis Public Library last evening (3/30/09).  I was in the front row for the event, Twittering (@UrbanReviewSTL) the entire time.  The Libertarian candidate didn’t show!

I briefly talked with Mayor Francis Slay, Elston McCowan and Maida Coleman prior to the debate and again immediately following the debate.  I gave all three to tell the voters why we should vote for them on Tuesday April 7, 2009.  This video is under 2 minutes:


The election is a week from today.

A few readers introduced themselves to me at the event. I always enjoy meeting my audience so if you see me somewhere be sure to say hello.


Currently there are "22 comments" on this Article:

  1. John Daly says:

    Thanks for doing what the local media should have been doing. I simply cannot understand how this wasn’t on local tv and/or radio. Oh sure, give us some sound bites on Total Information AM as we drive in to work…not good enough.

  2. publiceye says:

    ^ Two local TV stations sent reporters and cameras to the event. Two radio stations sent reporters. The local daily newspaper sent a reporter/Twitterer and an editorial writer. A weekly newspaper sent a photographer.

    There may have been others, but that’s what I saw.

  3. dumb me says:

    Maybe the local news outlets decided there’s not much of a story in a city-only general election. Was there anything newsworthy at the debate or was it mainly a dog bites man affair?

  4. Adam says:

    I agree 100% with John. Seeing a debate between candidates is a really crucial way of evaluating how they present themselves in public and how good a job they do articulating a position in a short amount of time. This is certainly a necessary (although not sufficient) condition for being an educated voter, yet no one other than the people who attended the debate even get to hear how they spoke on all the issues! A couple minute sound bites screened by the local media are not enough to really know what happened at the debate. It’s too bad that the media in St. Louis doesn’t do a better job keeping people informed.

  5. john says:

    The media in StL is more concerned with car wrecks, Cardinals and interruptions in daily commuting issues than who leads us. The MSM reflects what people here care about.

  6. dumb me says:

    The media is savvy enough to know that Slay will easily be reelected.

    Meanwhile, there are more important stories to cover:

    * Land subsidence undermining whole schools in Illinois

    * The ongoing auto industry rescue effort or Chapter 11?

    * Metro service cuts

    * The Blues quest to make the playoffs for the first time in four years

    * The weather

    There’s more to life than politics and government.

    If you’re looking for the latest info on politics and government, the mainstream media gets it – blogs are becoming more the domain for such information.

  7. Reginald Pennypacker III says:

    Was the Green Party retard still accusing Slay of burning down his election headquarters?

  8. CarondeletNinja says:

    “It’s time to elect a woman…”

    Re-he-heally? The gender card? Gender has absolutely no affect on one’s ability to be an effective leader, Ms. Coleman. You of all the candidates should have a solid grasp on this fact. Absolutely mind boggling that someone who has obviously worked hard to help break down gender barriers in the modern political system would resort to vote pandering based on gender. Shame on you.

  9. Henry says:

    What the hell is a skoo?

  10. Adam says:

    I wasn’t at the debate, but one of the most amazing sound bites I heard was that after being asked about racial division in the city, the mayor responded that, “St. Louis is the 5th most integrated city in the nation.” Steve, as someone at the debate, was that comment really as clueless and disconnected as it sounds?

    [slp — if you look at the Census track data the city would appear to be fairly integrated. Reality, however, is not represented in the numbers.]

  11. J says:

    Adam – check out this map of racial diversity by census block group:

  12. dumb me says:

    The diversity issue in the city is really one of those heat versus light topics. Lots of heat, very little light. In reality, St. Louis city is very diverse.

    I remember moving here from the “progressive” western US some twenty years. At a big festival gathering down at the Arch, I was blown away by the high number of mixed race couples. There were way more than you ever saw out in supposedly hip California, and this was tweny years ago, in the “racist” midwest. Cognitive dissonance was setting in.

    St. Louis has racial tension, but it also has made a lot of progress. It sounds hip and progressive to knock St. Louis for its racial divisions, but people need to learn more.

    The city grocer where I shop is very diverse. So much so, that when visiting, my California relatives were uncomfortable and wondered if we lived in a good neighborhood. So much for their “enlightened” California point of view. Oh, and the grocers are a lot better here too.

    Can Slay take credit for our growing diversity? As mayor, he gets to take credit for things happening on his watch, so he should.

    Make another diversity map showing percentage gay and St. Louis city will lead the region and also be one of the most gay-friendly cities in the midwest.

  13. Ms. Racette says:

    As someone who attended the debate, I thought it did a good job of exposing the rat that Slay has become. His body language was undeniable rude and he gave off an air of superiority that shouldn’t be found in a public servant. Maida, in her closing speech, stated that her main motivation in running was to be a public servant, not to bend over to some special interest groups. I find that honesty refreshing and it serves as one of the many reasons why she will be getting my vote on April 7th.

    @ CarondeletNinja: You are correct that gender doesn’t qualify one for an election. However, the “good old boys club” that has been running Saint Louis for the last eight years is an example of how gender can reinforce ideas of superiority and privilege. It is time for a change in city hall and that means getting rid of this ‘exclusive’ club.

  14. Jimmy Z says:

    We can’t change our gender nor our race, and it’s unfortunate that it’s played such a large role up until now. It’s also going to be a real challenge to move forward and for it NOT to be an issue. I don’t know enough about any of the challengers to question their intent or their qualifications, but everything I’ve ever seen from Mayor Slay to date has been positive. I find it hard to believe that he “his body language was undeniably rude and he gave off an air of superiority that shouldn’t be found in a public servant”. But, if that’s the worst you can say about him or his positions, so be it.

  15. Cheryl Hammond says:

    I attended the Sunday debate at the Presbyterian Church. I thought Slay came off by far the best. He was the one who actually talked details – like how much money the city had in stimulus money broken down by how it would be spent.

    The Green Party candidate did not have any details, promised way more than he could deliver (like putting all the buses back on the street), and seemed to just fill up his time rather than use his time. He quoted long passages from the Bible.

    Maida Coleman also remarked that we should elect a woman at this debate and did not have the command of detail that Slay had. I though she came off a little conceited. She remarked that many in the audience already knew about her “stellar” performance in the legislature, going on to tell about her other jobs before that.

    I had not made up my mind before, but now I have.

  16. Adam says:

    Sorry, I didn’t express myself very well. I was not questioning whether St. Louis was actually the 5th most integrated city in the country. I’m sure Slay is not stupid enough to make up a statistic. Rather, my point is that mentioning that in response to a question about the racial divisions in St. Louis shows a man who is either being deliberately misleading or is completely out of touch with reality. St. Louis has very serious racial issues, and to flippantly answer a question about racial division by saying “it’s not so bad” because we’re “5th most integrated” shows a profound disrespect for the intelligence of the audience, IMO. Either that or he always gets his groceries at the same shop that Dumb Me goes to.

  17. No real choice says:

    “stated that her main motivation in running was to be a public servant, not to bend over to some special interest groups.”

    Who doesn’t say this?

  18. That diversity map shows an interesting, although not surprising, fact: there is low diversity in most of north St. Louis and the southwest part of the city. The rest of the city has varying degrees of diversity, with a very high diversity in south St. Louis around Grand & Gravois. The reality is that the racial division in the city has shrunk considerably in real life, while many political leaders refuse to accept this reality because it threatens the longstanding north and south power systems. St. Louis actually is a modern city with archaic representational politics.

    Of course, the diversity doesn’t seem to have much bearing on the composition of the Board of Aldermen due to our politicized redistricting process. And at the mayoral debate, none of the candidates mentioned any resident ethnic groups other than black and white, except the mayor who to his credit spoke of immigrants living here.

  19. Ms. Racette says:

    @ No real choice and Jimmy Z: I guess him slouching back and crossing his arms went unnoticed? To me, it came off flippant, rude and unnecessary. The difference was Maida was more believable in what she was saying. If the debate were televised like the presidential ones this past fall, it would be interesting to see if it would have any effect on any undecided voters in St Louis. When he said the “5th most integrated” quote, I had trouble not laughing out loud at how out of touch he seemed.

  20. Ann says:

    If Maida doesn’t win, what kind of job does she have to go back to?

    Is she running to be “a servant of the public” or because she isn’t qualified to do anything else?

    I am not planning on voting for her because I have known her for years but I just want to hear the answer to my question.

  21. STLGman says:

    Racial Integration in Urban America: A Block Level Analysis of African American and White Housing Patterns .

  22. Jimmy Z says:

    In political debates, where participants are seated, it’s not at all unusual for the candidates who aren’t speaking to be “slouching back and crossing [their] arms” – they’ve simply heard their opponents’ positions multiple times. It’s also not unusual to see the non-speakers taking notes or looking aimlessly around the room; hopefully they’re not nodding off or picking their noses! If you interpret any of these actions as disrespectful, “flippant, rude and unnecessary”, so be it – I simply interpret them as being human. Most candidates do believe that they will do the best job in the position, and wonder why most, if not all, of their opponents are even running. I guess that could be considered “disrespectful”. Unfortunately, respect can only be earned – it’s a two-way street and takes time to build. Like many things in politics, if a candidate (or their supporters) continues to make respect an issue, they better not be “living in glass houses”. As mayor, Francis Slay deserves respect for the position he holds and the things that he has accomplished, even if you have serious differences with some (or many) of his actions over the past eight years. And, yes, even though I support him, I have disagreed with some of his decisions. But, taken in total, I thinks he’s done a good job with what he’s had to work with, and deserves another four years.


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