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Slay has a preference for state Senate: Joe Keaveny

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon Sept. 3, 2009 - St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay notes that he has no vote in determining who his party will select as its nominee to replace fellow Democrat Jeff Smith in the state Senate.

But Slay has his preferred candidate -- 28th Ward Democratic committeeman Joe Keaveny, a lawyer and former banker.

"He'd do a great job for the city of St. Louis. I have been talking to people about Joe," Slay said in an interview today.

The Democratic committeemen and women in 18 city wards -- basically, the western half, from north to south -- will soon vote to select their nominee for the Nov. 3 special election to replace Smith, who resigned last week when he pleaded guilty to felony charges stemming from his 2004 unsuccessful bid for Congress.

Other political parties are likely to select nominees as well, but all sides agree that the city's overwhelmingly Democratic edge among voters means the Democratic choice is likely a lock to replace Smith.

The Democratic contenders, announced or assumed, include state Reps. Rachel Storch, Jamila Nasheed and T. D. El-Amin, as well as Keaveny. Also making calls is lawyer Jerryl Christmas, who now works for Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in Washingon.

The mayor emphasized that Keaveny "is not relying on me. He has to make his own case to the committeepeople."

But Slay added that "I have made myself available" to promote Keaveny's bid, and to talk to people who've called the mayor asking about his preferences.

Slay has known Keaveny for years, but says he's supporting him because Keaveny has the strongest record, in the mayor's view, on the three issues most important to City Hall:

  • Local control of the police department.
  • Improving public education.
  • Maintaining the various state tax-credit programs important to urban redevelopment.

Slay said he had talked with the other Democrats in the running, or presumed to be, and emphasized that he is not working against any of them. "Who gets the position is somebody I'll be working with,'' the mayor said.
But if Slay has his druthers, he'd rather work with Joe.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.