A Quick Synopsis of the St. Louis Mayoral Primary
This won’t be long. More characters will not lessen the sting of seeing opportunities missed. Last night, St. Louis voters, or should I say, 28% of St. Louis voters, went to the polls to select primary candidates for Mayor and a few other municipal slots.
While it was a higher turnout due to there being 10 mayoral candidates, The Collective PAC endorsed Tishaura Jones, the current City Treasurer, because of her experience, her vision and her readiness for the job. As the only black woman in the race, she rippled feathers by talking about race and the need to have bold leadership in St. Louis in her quest to become the first black woman to be mayor of the city.
And while a host of white candidates were lined up to run for the democratic nomination, something happened that often happens within the white community; a meeting was held and a consensus was made that leaders would not split their vote but rather get behind one candidate for the benefit of their collective political goals.
But on the other side of town, the exact opposite happened. Three black men decided to run against one black woman, who happened to be the most qualified and most experienced black candidate in the race.
I am not here to paint a solely black and white picture of St. Louis politics, but as ground zero of the movement for black lives, we cannot ignore its centrality here. It is not news to many of us that an age old political strategy used to diminish the power of the black vote is to convince ill-suited leaders to run for an office they aren’t quite ready for and to work against each other versus with each other, with the promise that they’ll be taken care of.
I’m not sure what deal was cut for Antonio French, Lewis Reed or Jeffrey Boyd, or if any deal was cut at all, but the fact that Tishaura Jones lost by 888 votes in a seven person race, with an electorate that was 60%+ people or color tells me all I need to know. In spite of Lyda Krewson’s continued support from the blatantly racist St. Louis Police Union, a lack of black political leadership in St. Louis enabled her to win on Tuesday night.
We cannot change history. We can only look forward. For candidates seeking support from The Collective PAC or considering running in the future, ask yourself a question Antonio French, Lewis Reed and Jeffrey Boyd maybe didn’t ask: are you a candidate or are you a pawn?
Atlanta. Cincinnati. Charlotte. Cleveland. Jackson. Birmingham. Boston. Will egos continue to stifle our ability to build black political power? We are watching.
Quentin James is the Founder and Executive Director of The Collective PAC. A seasoned political organizer, most recently Quentin was the COO of Vestige Strategies where he designed and implemented organizing, political and community engagement campaigns for various clients including Trinidad & Tobago’s Prime Minister; the Governor of Lagos, Nigeria; Adrian Garcia for Congress; Google; Tumblr; and SC State Senator Karl Allen. Quentin is the co-founder of Inclusv, a diversity hiring initiative and a former National Board Member for the NAACP. Quentin was recently named one of the 2017 NBC BLK28 Under 28.