Lewis E. Reed
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Lewis E. Reed
Lewis E. Reed
Lewis Reed.jpg
President of the Board of Aldermen

April 3, 2007
James F. Shrewsbury
Personal details
Born (1962-10-09) October 9, 1962 (age 55)
Alma mater Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Lewis E. Reed (born October 9, 1962) is an American politician and the first ever African-American to be elected president of the Board of Aldermen for the City of St. Louis, Missouri (2007-present). Reed was named one of St. Louis' "Most Influential People" by the St. Louis Business Journal in 2012. In 2014 Reed became the first area politician to be accepted to the Local Leaders Council of Smart Growth America, "a nonpartisan group of municipal officials who share a passion for building great towns, cities, and communities." [1][2]

Education and early career

Reed is a native of Joliet, Illinois, where he attended Joliet Central High School. Reed was a force to be reckoned with on the school's varsity wrestling team, which he joined as a freshman. Reed credits his wrestling coaches for helping him 'transform as a person' and attributes lessons learned on the mat for his successful career. Reed would go on to place third in state competition his senior year.[3]

After graduating high school, Reed attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on a wrestling scholarship. While there, the wrestling program "vaulted to national championship status with four individual national champions and eight All-Americans under NCAA Coach of the Year Larry Kristoff."[4] Reed majored in mathematics and computer science. He went on to become the director of networks and telecommunications for the Edison Brothers Stores' worldwide operations. He also was the manager of data networks for SSM Health Businesses, a billion dollar health care organization and developed technology solutions.

Political career

Reed was elected alderman of the city's sixth ward in 1999. He was the first African American alderman ever elected to this position. In his term of office, Reed led the revitalization of Lafayette Square and Gate District which were part of the growth of the area including more than $1.7 Billion of investment in redevelopment and economic growth creating more than 400 new jobs.[5]

Bike St. Louis

In 2005 Reed worked with then Congressman Russ Carnahan, being long-time friends and cyclists, to establish Bike St. Louis. Reed felt it was time to create a way to connect the parks in the City for cyclists and to provide safe commuter route options. After months of planning with Alderpersons, constituents, City Agencies, and local bike organizations, the first 20 miles of continuous on-street bicycle routes were unveiled in the Spring of 2005. Signage on the routes is both MUTCD standard signage as well as custom designed signage by Kiku Obata that marks the route and provides point of interest directions and distances. A printed map was also developed and distributed which included bike safety information. In addition an educational program was created and presented to over 30 classes of middle school students.[6]

Washington Avenue redevelopment

During Reed's two terms as alderman, Washington Avenue went from being a largely abandoned commercial district to, the Washington Avenue Loft District, one of the city's most active entertainment districts and home to hundreds of new residents living in newly constructed loft apartments. Reed drafted several ordinances to target investment along this historic commercial corridor, using historic tax credits, low-income housing tax credits and, at times, Tax Increment Financing (TIF).[7][8]

Designating city parkland for dog parks

In 2004, Alderman Reed worked with animal rights and advocacy groups to establish, for the city of St. Louis, rules and regulations to allow for 'dog exercise areas' in existing parks. This ordinance, 66595, paved the way for other alderpersons and community groups to designate areas for dog parks.

Lafayette Square neighborhood revitalization

As alderman, Reed worked with Lafayette Square residents and the City's Parks Department to draft and adopt a comprehensive master plan for the restoration of Lafayette Square Park. That plan was reviewed by and approved by the Planning Commission and ratified by the full Board of Aldermen. Implementation of plan recommendations began immediately and continues to date.

Reed also authored and passed the first-ever neighborhood TIF district to spur development on Park Ave., the business district of the neighborhood. Reed then worked with developers to transform an old junk yard into Park Plaza, a public space that features a fountain, benches and green space. The TIF district boundaries have been expanded over the years as development spreads in all directions from the original TIF site.[9] A comprehensive neighborhood 'Urban Plan' guides development in this historic district. That plan, too, was endorsed and adopted by Alderman Reed.

President of the Board of Aldermen

Reed was elected president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on April 3, 2007. He is the first Black person in St. Louis history elected to this position. Reed was re-elected on April 5, 2011 with over 80% of the vote. As Board President, Reed sits on the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, which approves all City real estate purchases, appropriations and the City's annual operating budget, the Airport Commission, which is responsible for the oversight of all planning, development, management and operation of Lambert International Airport and the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, the Metropolitan planning organizationof the St. Louis region.

Cyber harassment

In response to increased concerns of online bullying, President Reed introduced Board Bill 404 in November 2007 to make cyber harassment illegal in the City of St. Louis with violators subject to a fine of not less than one hundred dollars and up to 90 days in jail. The bill passed into law with broad support to become Ordinance 67800. The bill defined harass as "to engage in a course of conduct that serves no legitimate purpose and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress...or when the conduct consists of contact by a person over age eighteen with a person under the age of eighteen." [10]

Public Safety Sales Tax and Youth Crime Prevention Fund

In 2007 Reed introduced and passed Board Bills 362 and 351, which were codified as Ordinance 67794, and Ordinance 67774, submitting to the voters of the City of St. Louis a one-half of one percent sales tax increase on retail sales for the purpose of "providing revenues for the operation of public safety departments of the city including hiring more police officers, police and firefighter compensation, prosecuting more criminals, nuisance crimes and problem properties, and funding police and fire pensions." [11] This "Public Safety Protection Sales Tax" was approved by voters, passing with 54.95% of votes cast.[12]

This sales tax also allocates $1 million annually for Youth Crime Prevention efforts administered by non-profit organizations specializing in early childhood education, youth recreation and the arts.

Government transparency

In October 2013 President Reed co-authored a bill to increase transparency at the Board of Aldermen. Once passed, the Communications Division of the City will be required to record "all public meetings of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, including committee meetings; the Board of Estimate & Apportionment; the Board of Public Service; and the Preservation Board." These recordings will be made publicly available online.[13]

Nextdoor for Neighborhoods

Also in late 2013, President Reed joined neighbors from across the city to announce the launch of a new social network designed to link neighbors and strengthen lines of communication between residents and City Hall and residents and the police department. The network, known as Nextdoor, quickly grew with nearly 8,000 residents enrolled by the end of the year. The goal is to keep residents informed, prepared and connected. This partnership is improving engagement with residents among a variety of city departments including the Board of Aldermen, the Police Department, the Emergency Management Agency and the Neighborhood Stabilization Team. [14][15]

Demolition docket

The City's Preservation Review Ordinance was amended in the late 90's to exclude parts of North St. Louis city that many thought were not salvageable. This amendment came just as developers were discovering the Historic Preservation Tax Credits and beginning to understanding the tool's full potential. Areas where preservation review occurred and where historic districts existed saw unprecedented levels of investment over the course of the next two decades.[16]

With development plans that began to encompass several miles of the city not within a review district and with broad opposition to unnecessary and unwarranted demolition of the built environment, Reed created an additional layer of oversight of proposed demolitions with the 'Demolition Docket.' This docket, for the first time, made demolition permit activity available to the public and was published online to give residents real time access to addresses on the chopping block. The docket tracked hundreds of demolitions and drew attention to several historically significant properties that would have otherwise been silently demolished.[17]

In 2014 Reed partnered with the Preservation Research Office, who agreed to maintain the Demolition Docket and to provide the level of oversight needed.

Gun Buybacks

Reed believes that buybacks, when done thoughtfully and strategically, can "result in a significant decrease in suicides, assaults, and homicides and connect the population at large with the looming issue of gun violence." On January 31, 2014, as a response to Missouri statute RS Mo. 571.067, which made buybacks illegal without municipal legislation enabling such programs and added stipulations as to how guns are disposed, Reed introduced and received unanimous support for Resolution 206, thereby making gun buybacks legal again in the City of St. Louis. In a press release issued the same day Reed provided the following quote: "The City of St. Louis is caught in a vicious cycle of poverty and violence that tears apart lives on an alarmingly frequent basis. Guns play an out-sized role. Yet there is an unfortunate disconnect between needs of city residents, in both St. Louis and Kansas City, on the one hand and priorities of out-state legislators in Jefferson City on the other. We must look out for the well-being of our children before the livelihoods of gun dealers."[18]

#Plant4PeaceSTL

St. Louis was more divided than ever following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Reed organized the largest regional tree planting effort in St. Louis history to bring neighbors together, to promote peace, understanding and unity. More than 500 trees were planted by some 300 organizations all across St. Louis City and County and in the parks of Ferguson.[19] Filmmaker Corinne McAffee created a documentary short of the event that has received praise from audiences across the country titled #Plant4PeaceSTL

Establishing a Poet Laureate for the St. Louis Region

In late 2014 Reed passed board bill 142 creating a six (6) member Poet Laureate Task Force and launched www.STLPoet.org to solicit interest from the literary arts community in filling this post on behalf of the City of St. Louis. On December 12th, with unanimous support from the Board of Aldermen, Reed appointed Michael Castro as the inaugural Poet Laureate, an iconic poet unanimously recommended by the Task Force.

Senior Services Fund (Proposition S)

In November 2016, voters of the City of St. Louis favorably approved Proposition S, which allowed for the creation of a senior services fund supported by a newly established 5 cent property tax. Proposition S was sponsored by Reed at the Board of Aldermen and backed by a coalition of organizations serving the needs of seniors, and promoted through a campaign titled "Seniors Count". This effort aims to address serious gaps in funding and delivery of services for residents 60 years of age and older who wish to continue to live independently. The fund will make up for gaps in Medicare and Medicaid coverage, access to transportation, proper nutrition, routine home maintenance, quality homemaker/respite services, and adequate care coordination as well as opportunities for socialization, dental and behavioral healthcare.

Mayoral campaign

Reed ran for Mayor of St. Louis in the 2017 election.[20] He came in 3rd place out of 7 candidates for the democratic primary.

References

External links


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