ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - For the fourth time since the turn of the century, Francis Slay held up his right hand Monday morning and swore that he had the qualifications necessary to serve as mayor of the city of St. Louis.
Even though he walked into city elections headquarters several minutes past 8 am, when the doors first opened, the three-time incumbant knew that he’d be the first candidate eligible to file because of the stand-ins who took turns holding his place in line.
Now that he’s on the ballot Slay said he’s looking forward to running a “positive” campaign leading up to the primary showdown with Reed next March.
“I don’t take this job for granted, I don’t take the campaign for granted,” Slay said. “And I certainly don’t take the people of St. Louis for granted. I feel confident about the things we’ve accomplished.”
But after arriving about a half-hour after the man he hopes to unseat, Aldermanic president Lewis Reed had a far less positive assessment of Slay’s twelve years at City Hall.
“If you look at his record on balance he’s been a decent inn-keeper,” according to Reed. “But we need more than that. We need some real bold leadership to begin a new direction in this city.”
“Care to offer any specifics?”, Reed was asked.
“I’m going to release some of that information in a little while, I don’t think right now is the appropriate time,” he responded. “We’re going to have a press conference where we’ll be laying out our entire platform.”
Slay is white, Reed is black — so both candidates were asked what role, if any, race will play in the outcome next March.
“I’m concerned that my opponent will try and use the ‘race card’ in the campaign,” Slay admitted. “People that know me know that’s something that I have never done, and will not do.”
He did go on to mention the support his reelection campaign has received from black politicians, including St. Louis County executive Charlie Dooley, Congressman Lacy Clay, and a “wide variety of people from throughout the community”.
“Because they believe in the same thing I believe in,” Slay said. “And that is that all of us in the city sink or swim together.”
All Reed hopes to sink next spring are Slay’s hopes for a fourth term as mayor.
He said if anyone’s been playing the ‘race card’ to this point, it’s been his opponent.
“(Slay’s) has already been stoking those coals and I think that’s a mistake and the wrong way to go,” Reed insisted, though he again declined to offer specifics.
The winner of the March primary is virtually guaranteed to win the mayoral election in April because the city of St. Louis is so heavily Democratic.