At heart, an artist/activist. In my current day job, I serve people. Literally. In my spare time, I tell stories. Lover of all things STL City, art and architecture, smart public policy; fighter for all things just, believer in all things true, open to new ideas, skeptical of all things institutional - while working within said institutions; grounded by family, friends, music. Grateful for reinvention, rediscovery and multiple chances to get it right.
When you walk out the door each day, local policy affects you the most. Aldermen are responsible for everything from ensuring the street light in front of your house is working, to far reaching policy decisions that impact your pocketbook.
As your Alderman, I will look to you and your needs to guide my decision making at city hall.
Seek public input for development projects in the ward.
Hold regular town hall meetings.
I will be available and responsive to your needs on a full time-basis.
For 8 years, my primary means of transportation was a bicycle. In that time I became familiar with the strengths and shortfalls of the ease of use of our bicycle lanes, pathways, their connection to light rail and buses, and the limitations of our transit system as a whole.
Simply put, our city must invest in our public transit infrastructure. Too many of our residents do not have convenient access to jobs in our region. While it may take a city dweller 30 minutes to drive to a job out in the county, our residents that rely on public transit are often faced with several hours of commute time. Without quality, easily accessed transportation, we leave our neediest at a competitive disadvantage.
Also: over the course of 3 years (and logging over 12,700 miles) I rode a bicycle down every block of every Street in St Louis, all 1,800 miles. So….
Our public schools can lead the way in lifting families up from poverty, reduce the risk for youth to engage in harmful, and illegal behavior, and ensure that resident’s don’t have to make the choice of leaving the community they love to seek out other educational options in our region.
As alderman, I will advocate for:
Expansion of the Pre-Kindergarten option in public schools
Public funding for the first two years of community college for any student in public schools who maintains a C average through their junior and senior years
Research and implementation of the best charter school models
Closure of low-performing charter schools
Our ward has excellent options for families seeking a solid education for their children, as well as places where we can do better. As your Alderman, I’ll work with leaders in ward schools to make sure we stay on the right track, while advocating for citywide improvements that benefit everyone’s quality of life.
Our region is notoriously divided — by zip code, by neighborhood, by race, and socioeconomic status. I recognize people in power must answer to the overwhelming calls for change in our community. As Alderman, I will work with my fellow board members and the mayor’s office to implement recommendations of the Ferguson Report, and chief among those is evaluating policy-making decisions through a racial equity lens.
You’ve heard this from lots of leaders, and – likely – are wondering what I can bring to the table. The answer? The needed sensitivity to address the issue head on, and the working relationships on both sides of Delmar to make it happen.
I first began my deep dive into our city’s and region’s racial disparities, while producing The Pruitt-Igoe Myth. I interviewed many former residents, including Sylvester Brown Jr., former Metro columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and founder of The Sweet Potato Project. And, other notable figures in Pruitt-Igoe’s history, such as Dr. Joyce Ladner, who did her Doctoral work at Pruitt-Igoe while at Washington University, and went on to serve as an activist, academic and civil servant in Washington, D.C. The film gained global critical attention, but my favorite award was from FOCUS St. Louis, in 2012.
And, I remain involved in the For The Sake Of All project – which specifically addresses improving the health and well being of African-Americans in St. Louis, and includes many of the communities still feeling the impact of a region post Pruitt-Igoe.
As 8th Ward Committeeman, I’m one of 56 members of a central committee that represents all wards in the city. I’ve made it a point to build relationships on both sides of Delmar, so I can best understand how to address the larger issues that have an impact on our ward. I’ve been committed to building a better St. Louis, long before doing so gained national attention. Inclusion benefits everyone, and, as your Alderman, I won’t take my eye off that ball.
As I’ve said, my father was born to a St Louis with 850,000 people; by the time I was born we were down to 450,000. My son was born last year to a town of 317,000 people.
If we are to provide the tens of thousands of St Louis children like my son a bright future where they can remain in our City and have the livable-wage jobs they need to prosper, we must reverse this trend of economic decline.
We’ve seen good examples in the 8th Ward of how to reverse this trend. The South Grand Business District is a model of business owners working together to create a destination within the city – and spurring further development north of the district. Thurman and Shaw, once one of the Shaw neighborhood’s most challenged intersections, is now one of its most desirable, from a small-business standpoint. And, other key corners are opening gathering places of all sorts – many of which are owned and operated by city and/or neighborhood residents. These businesses not only stimulate economic activity in the ward, but also bring in needed tax dollars and provide jobs for people in the community.
As a city, we can – and should – do better. As Alderman, I’ll work with my colleagues at the board, along with allies at the state level, to:
Strengthen workforce development opportunities through SLATE – the city’s agency for training and employment, funded largely through state dollars.
Bring needed reforms to tax incentives – ensuring small businesses have a good shot at opening doors in our city, while making sure no project gets rubber stamped.