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Politically Speaking: Reed makes case to become St. Louis' next mayor

Lewis Reed January 2017
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio
Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed

It’s an odd-numbered year after a presidential election. And you know what that means? It’s time for a rough and tumble race for St. Louis mayor.

This isn’t any ordinary election. Because Mayor Francis Slay isn’t running for a fifth term, a big field of candidates have signed up to succeed him.

We’ve invited mayoral candidates to visit the Politically Speaking podcasts so they can give a lengthier view of their opinions on major city issues.

On this episode of Politically Speaking we talk with Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed. A native of Joliet, Illinois, Reed first appeared on the local political scene in the 1990s when he was elected alderman for the 6th Ward, which includes the Midtown and Lafayette Square neighborhoods. 

Related: Listen to extended interviews with each of the Democratic candidates

In 2007, he successfully challenged Board of Aldermen President Jim Shrewsbury. As board president, Reed joined the powerful Board of Estimate and Apportionment that makes most of the city’s financial decisions.


Reed was Slay’s main challenger in 2013. He ended up losing by 4,000 votes, a better showing than other people who challenged Slay during his four terms as mayor.

Other candidates in the 2017 Democratic primary for mayor include Alderman Lyda Krewson, D-28th Ward; Treasurer Tishaura Jones; Alderman Antonio French, D-21st Ward; Alderman Jeffrey Boyd, D-22nd Ward; St. Louis School Board member Bill Haas; and former Alderman Jimmie Matthews.

Five other candidates are running in the Republican, Libertarian and Green Party primaries but are unlikely to prevail in a city where winning the Democratic nomination has been tantamount to election. (An independent candidate could also pose a challenge in the April general election.)

A few highlights from the show:

  • He would evaluate whether St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson should keep his job if he’s elected mayor. "If it turns out that the job performance is attached to the crime rate going up, like I would suspect or you would suspect, then we would have to find something else for the chief to do," he said.

  • He's wary of promising to fire Dotson without a thorough review of his performance. “Going into it, if you say ‘I’m going to fire him no matter what,’ that’s a problem for the city. I think we end up in a lawsuit. And I think we lose,” Reed said.

  • He’s not sold on a bid to combine St. Louis and St. Louis County through a statewide ballot initiative. As of now, St. Louis and St. Louis County voters would decide on any city-county union. “The people that are most impacted by it should make that decision; it should be the people of the city of St. Louis and the people in St. Louis County,” he said. “That being said, the challenge in a city-county merger is the political capital it takes to get there.”

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Follow Lewis Reed on Twitter: @presreed

Music: “Sail to the Moon” by Radiohead & “Marilyn” by Other People

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.