By TIM ROWDEN
Senior Staff Reporter
St. Louis – With Labor’s support, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay scored an historic victory, winning his party’s nomination to an unprecedented fourth term, in the Democratic primary election March 5.
Winning the Democratic primary is tantamount to winning the general election in the heavily Democratic city.
Slay told the Labor Tribune that labor played a crucial part in the historic campaign.
“This is a city of many neighborhoods, each with its own set of interests. This is a city of a lot of government, with many different centers of power. And this is a city with a population more diverse than any other in the state. And it is a city of many, many doors to knock and phones to ring,” Slay said.
“To win in such a city requires an extraordinary campaign. Fortunately, I had organized labor my side to put together the most relentless campaign in this city’s history. They were the boots on the ground – and on Election Day the snow boots on the ground – that helped bring 24,000 voters out in a storm to vote. Labor came into the campaign early – and stayed late.”
Slay defeated his nearest challenger, Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed, by a margin of 54 percent to 44 percent. The general election is April 2.
Despite a heated and ongoing fight between City Hall and Fire Fighters Local 73 over the fire fighters’ pension fund, general support for Slay remains widespread in the union community.
Slay was endorsed in the race by both St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council and the St. Louis Labor Council.
“Some of the locals went the other way, but that’s just politics,” said Jeff Aboussie, executive secretary treasurer of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council. “It’s time to mend some fences and get back together.”
REGARDLESS OF DIVISIONS
Regardless of any divisions which may have emerged during the campaign, St. Louis Labor Council President Bob Soutier said the election showed that the majority of people in St. Louis support Mayor Slay.
“The race is over now and now it’s time to move forward,” Soutier said. “The fact that some locals supported one candidate and some supported the other, that’s becoming more and more the norm as there are issues that affect one union and may not affect the other. In this day and time, you’re going to see more of that.”
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, Soutier said, as it indicates give and take within the labor movement.
“The fact that there are divisions sometimes bodes well for our democracy within the labor organizations,” Soutier said.