ST. LOUIS Mayor Francis Slay, in a culmination of years of
campaigning and strategic political calculations, took a historic
step on Tuesday night toward becoming the citys longest-serving
We have convinced the people of St. Louis to really make history,
Slay told jubilant supporters who gathered at the Dubliner Pub on
Washington Avenue downtown to claim victory.
Slay defeated Aldermanic President Lewis Reed by 10 percentage
points in the Democratic mayoral primary. Slay was heavily favored,
having spent 12 years as the citys mayor. A third candidate, former
Alderman Jimmie Matthews, trailed far behind with just over 1
percent of the vote.
We ran a hell of a race, Reed told supporters on Tuesday night.
We unified the city. Sometimes its not about the win, its about the
path God set you on.
At Reeds campaign party at Carpenters Hall on Hampton Avenue, the
mood was somber. As Slay appeared on television screens declaring
victory, the crowd gathered, sighing and expressing disappointment.
Turnout hovered around 22 percent of registered voters. St. Louis
was hit with a few hours of snow and freezing rain for parts of the
The battle between Slay and Reed was long in the making. The two
citywide elected officials increasingly sniped at each other during
public meetings. In recent years, Reed became critical of Slays
leadership and policies, although Slays experienced campaign
apparatus questioned whether Reed would actually challenge the mayor
in earnest. He did. In October, Reed announced he would embark on a
mission of change by running against Slay, who hadnt faced a
significant electoral challenge since he first ran for mayor.
No St. Louis mayor has ever been elected to a fourth four-year
term, and only one has tried.
Now Slay faces Green Party candidate James McNeely in the April 2
general election. Although Tuesdays primary only determined who will
be the Democratic nominee for mayor, winning the Democratic primary
has been tantamount to winning the general election in the heavily
On Tuesday night, Slay declined to discuss specifics of what his
fourth term would look like.
Slay pledged to make St. Louis city even cleaner, healthier,
safer, more fun, better educated, and just a better place for more
people. Were going to make St. Louis a better place, a more
He pinpointed two things: creating more jobs and making every one
of our neighborhoods a safer place.
New things, however, are on the horizon: The city will gain
control of its police department from a state oversight board this
summer. Slay has also said he would like to bring the city back into
St. Louis County.
Reed, 50, hoped to capitalize on pockets of voters dissatisfied
with Slays long tenure, including black voters, many firefighters
upset over Slays handling of their pension system, and residents who
opposed Slays support of a water consulting contract for Veolia, a
company they fear could reduce water quality. …