I do not relish endorsements, especially this time. As an alderman, the reality is if you endorse incorrectly, and your candidate loses, you and your ward can very well be punished by the new mayor.
This is a good field of candidates, I know all of them. Most have real records and are serious and committed people. The usual endorsement goes something like: "My candidate is ideal and is the only one suited to solve our problems. The other candidates are crooked, ugly liars who will mean sure disaster." Well, I don't like to do that kind of endorsement.
But after thinking about this for literally months, thinking about which candidate is most suited for the job, weighing their pluses and minuses, probably overanalyzing some parts of their records, my last thought was this: Which of these people has made me a better alderman and a better representative for St. Louis? Which of these people respects and values my opinion? Which person can I count on to follow through when I need help delivering services? That person is Lyda Krewson, with an honorable mention to Antonio French.
First, credit where credit is due, French is a unique person. St. Louis government is much better for having him a part of it, and will be worse if he's no longer in office. There's no one (sadly including me) who can make an argument as clearly and compellingly as he can. He is usually right, and when I disagree with him, I have to think hard about why, because his arguments are convincing. He works hard, he's extremely smart, he knows St. Louis, and the reality is that alderman is an office too small for what he could accomplish with a real infrastructure around him. Some of the unflattering stories about him are the result of him trying too hard, trying to accomplish things on a shoestring budget with a completely indifferent mayor's office. But does he value my opinion? No, not really.
I respect Lyda Krewson for her work ethic, her toughness, her commitment, her intelligence, and her patience. Lyda is not a loud person. She is not a firebrand the way some other candidates can be, but she is good at connecting people, managing personalities, reaching out, and finding a way forward. She knows how to combine public and private funding to get things done. She may disagree with you, but she does not burn bridges. While that doesn't make headlines, in the long run its important for an effective leader. And Lyda is not about Lyda. She is not one to sing her own praises, or complain about her own problems.
The mayor, directly or indirectly, is responsible for 6,000 city employees. That reality has been lacking from the coverage of this mayoral contest. Who is ready to take on that substantial challenge and build a more responsive, nimble city workforce? I think Krewson is. That begins with budgets. Krewson's expertise as a CPA puts her in the best position to take on the City's generally dreary budget forecast. Evolving the City's budget to make more room for essential departments, and to pay employees in those departments a competitive salary, is essential to delivering the best service to St. Louis residents.
I know I am a little out of step with some of my friends who are picking other candidates. That doesn't bother me. What I do bristle at is the caricature some have painted of Krewson. I know its not based on any actual experience with her. One thing it has done is show how she handles criticism - she stays above it, she focuses on the work she needs to do. Being mayor is not for the faint of heart in St. Louis. You had better be ready to deal with criticism. An extended public media battle about who has been fair to you and who hasn't is quite frankly below the office. Just get on with the work. I know that's the type of personality she has - and I know she'll bring that quality to the office.
I have worked with or around all of these candidates for six years, and by far Lyda has been the most helpful to me, the most interested in what I had to say, the most willing to discuss something, and the most reliable and straightforward with her commitments.
No one 'deserves' the title of mayor. But Krewson's decades of experience and dedication to this City mean she has earned it as much, or more, than anyone else. She will be the most effective mayor from day one, and when I think she needs a push to pursue change more urgently, I believe she won't ignore my opinion. When she can help me get something done, I know she'll be there. I can't say that about the other candidates.
I think its perfectly fitting that a person who has seen both the best and worst of St. Louis should finally become our first female mayor.