For the vast majority of you all, this is the first time that you have ever heard of me. I am not a big name. I don’t have a long history in politics. However, if we are honest, time in a profession is just time if it is not well used. And, no one is born a politician. It is a calling driven by a passion to be the change that you wish to see in the world. In my interview for the St Lo.uis Post Dispatch when asked why I decided to run, I responded that, I was asked to run members of the community of the University City community saw the passion I have for helping people, a hearty appetite for change, a solid belief in Justice for all and a desire to educate the misguided, misled and misinformed. I decided to run because I want to be the voice for the voiceless and to be, for some, the only glimpse of themselves that they see in politics.
Being only the second African-American to hold this County Executive seat after Charlie Dooley and the first and only woman to ever hold this position would be a step in the right direction towards justice and inclusion. The St. Louis County Charter, drafted in 1979, uses the masculine terms for every St Louis County government role that is listed. The masculine pronoun is notably used 96 times, while the feminine only twice. In 2020, we have come too far as a city, a state and a nation for that to remain unchanged
In my 36 years I have been where many of the Saint Louis County residents areas have been- both personally and professionally and that is why my platform speaks to bring to the forefront 6 areas of injustice that need to be made right in the realms of :
- Environmental justice
- Social justice
- Justice for the homeless
- Justice for the elderly and disabled
Health Justice is in the minds of everyone during this pandemic. One blatant injustice in healthcare was mentioned in a Washington DC press conference by Dr. Fauci was what he termed as the “unacceptable health disparities for African Americans”. As of a news report on April 13, of the 42 people who died from COVID-19 in St Louis County, 20 of them were black. This should cause major alarm as a government ‘for the people and by the people’. We should ensure that we stand fervently behind our county charter section 4.13 that says we the St. Louis County government will establish and maintain such activities and clinics as are needed to promote the public health of the county.
- I propose that we use portions of the county funding to transform many of the unused buildings and offices spaces into Urgent Care facilities in these largely under-served communities. There is no reason that we allow in these areas more liquor stores,and corner stores than access to healthcare providers and pharmacies.
As it relates on to social justice….
While social injustice has indeed existed for years and can be proven statistically,it was never more apparent than since the unfortunate occurrences that happened in Ferguson in 2014 to Mike Brown. This one act that put St Louis in the news and on the map for something other than baseball and hockey championships. Social justice needs both attention and action now. Some may say, ‘At least there is a police presence, isn’t that enough?’ No, it’s not enough. If your home was being robbed would it be “enough for the police to simply be present? When the oath to ‘protect and serve’ does not apply equally to everyone at all time then it leave residents unprotected even though they are being watch. Given that, St Louis County says they want to build trust in the community.
- If you truly want to build trust in the communities, I propose that in addition to the police commissioners and department heads, that an open and transparent investigation of all police shootings and serious assaults to be investigated by an outside counsel and call for the establishment of a civilian police oversight board.
Economics is another element of social justice that seems to keep being addressed, but never resolved. I mentioned at the beginning the charter drafted in 1979 that we still still adhere to that is sexist in its compilation. With that in mind, In 1963 the Equal Pay act was passed given women the right to equal pay, In 1979 our St Louis County charter noted under Article VII the Merit System (section 7.010) that will will follow the principal of equal pay for substantially equal work and yet, in the annual report of 2019, it is still being addressed -a need to ensure fair wages for women and racial minorities. It has been more than half a century… it’s time to cross this issue off the list.
- I propose that the St Louis County enforce Equal Pay Act (1963) compliance on the part of business owners and corporations that operate under our governmental rule.
Environmental justice is just as much a disservice in any community where health and social injustice exist. In these lower socioeconomic communities children, minority children- specifically African-American, are far more likely to suffer from things like like asthma and bronchitis and other respiratory diseases and ailments. This in part because the building that are torn down and reconstructed in these areas do not undergo thorough enough inspections for harmful biohazards before being demolished and they send things like asbestos and spores into the air that these children and their families have to breathe in daily. This is a phenomenon now known as Environmental Racism. This goes back to the platform of health injustices as they are not only in areas where they are not given adequate access to healthcare, but they are also being attacked by environmental racism that only contributes to their need for health services. These construction projects are approved by our county government. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be accused of racism of any kind and I certainly don’t want to be the cause or a contributor to it.
- I propose mandatory procedures, tests, regulations and construction codes specific to preventing environmental exposure to biohazards.
Speaking of children, Educational Justice is another silent, ongoing and over time detrimental injustice in our communities. Education must be both fair and equitable. Let me be clear, I said equitable not equal. Equal is receiving the same things as everyone else, but when others do not begin from a Level Playing Field equal is never fair. This is an injustice, like many others that I have mentioned, that should have been addressed years ago. With technology now being so interwoven into the educational system, it is it is not without reason to believe that educators should be able to begin teaching American history to include the history of every race- not just Europeans. American history should begin with the Native Americans as they were here first. And, for the record, African American history does not begin with slavery. I have two small children in elementary school and they were told to be on grade level for next year to focus on reading and math.
- I propose that children are assigned reading that is age appropriate, educational and historical? It is school after all. It is the belief of many ,myself included, that what we do or do not learn in school, leads to who we do or do not become in life.
As of the end of 2019, there are just over 500,000 homeless people in America and of that vast number, at least 6,000 of them reside in the Missouri alone.
- I proposed that of the more than $81 million dollars that the county receives through HUD housing development grants that much of it is used to provide permanent shelter and programs designed to allow the homeless to once again become productive members of society. Also, funds should be designated to assist those in the lower socioeconomic communities with housing assistance and program that may aid in ensuring that they do not become one more citizen among the homeless population.
Lastly, I campaign for a senior & disability Justice. Many of the homeless that I’ve already mentioned are our own U.S. veterans and of those, many of these vets are elderly and/or suffer from disabilities both physical and mental. I personally do outreach at many senior living facilities in University City and when I talk to these residents and care providers, their top concerns are related to safety and financial exploitation. We have lost, or have come close to losing, far too many of our elderly during this pandemics. It is important that we protect and find justice for those elderly that remain and the disabled as well.
- I propose that, like living wills and power of attorney discussions, that the elderly and disabled and their families are given access to regular counseling, courses and programs to discuss the best ways to protect themselves and safeguard against exploitation and abuse. In a words of Martin Luther King, an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere!
The fact is, I am aware that these ideas and passions are not unique to me or my platform. But what appears to be unique about me and my platform, is the sense of urgency I have about finally checking these things off the list of things to do and moving these long overdue platform points to the top of the priority list.