Keith Conway's first lesson in backdoor politics came three days into his administration as mayor of Kinloch, when he got an uninvited visitor. Conway, a young R&B singer with no political background or experience, ran a write-in campaign, promising to save his cash-starved hometown, which had been decimated by a 20-year airport land buyout. The city's population, almost entirely African-American, had shrunk from 6,000 in 1970 to less than 450. On April 11, 1999, Conway beat the incumbent, Bernard Turner getting 127 votes to Turner's 50. When he took office, Conway discovered that Turner had left him with the office furniture and not much else -- no files, no memos, no records, nothing. "There wasn't anything as much as a scrap of paper left," Conway recalls. "Everything was gone." Conway found himself sitting at an empty desk, surrounded by buckets filled with rainwater... More >>>
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By Jennifer Silverberg
Eighty-five percent of Kinloch's property-tax base has been lost as a result of the airport buyout program.