Editorial: We recommend Lewis Reed and Cara Spencer in the St. Louis mayoral primary

St. Louis Post Dispatch Editorial Board

The March 2 St. Louis mayoral primary is going to break a lot of old rules regarding how voters select the candidates to compete in the general election. So we’re going to break some rules, too. Since voters now can select multiple primary candidates, we’re recommending not one but two who are most worthy of the office. And Thursday’s op-ed page breaks another longstanding rule: Normally we reject op-ed submissions from candidates for office. This time, we’ve asked all four candidates to identify the one problem facing St. Louis that deserves priority attention, and then to explain how each would address that problem.

The Post-Dispatch believes Reed and Spencer offer the best mix of experience, guts, brains and political tact to handle the intense daily challenges of running and representing Missouri’s most vibrant city.

Three of the four — Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, Alderman Cara Spencer, and business executive Andrew Jones — responded to our invitation. They also participated in an online debate that voters can access on the Post-Dispatch opinion website to compare and contrast their answers to major issues like crime, population decline, education and collaboration between the city and St. Louis County.

Spencer’s progressive brand of politics won’t appeal to lots of moderate or conservative voters. Her plans for criminal justice reform and more equitable distribution of city resources bear strong consideration, but sometimes her high ideals clash with practicality and budgetary reality.

Spencer, 42, has a fiery, take-no-prisoners leadership approach that serves warning to special interest groups and lobbyists that she will not compromise on principle. Hers was the lonely voice of opposition and scrutiny when monied interests tried to railroad airport privatization through to a hasty approval. Editorially, we’ve lauded her courage on that front.