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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Accusations of Racism Stir Aldermanic Campaign

Posted By on Thu, Feb 3, 2011 at 9:30 AM

  • Image via Twitter
  • Kessler

It had to happen sometime.

Robert Joiner reports in the St. Loius Beacon that Alderman Kacie Starr Triplett is accusing her primary-election opponent of playing the race card in his efforts to unseat her.

Triplett who is black, is running her Democratic-primary campaign against Brad Kessler, who is white, to maintain control of her seat representing the city's 6th ward, which covers the westernmost part of downtown and the easternmost part of midtown. The district is home to neighborhoods that are both black and white, with a 50-50 racial split.

In a mailer sent out a few days ago by the Kessler campaign, a photo of the candidate appears next to the text: "KESSLER He's one of us!"

Writes Joiner:

Triplett says she is offended by the message because she says it amounts to code words to swing white voters to Kessler corner ... She argues that the "He's one of us" reference is aimed at swaying white residents in the ward.

"It's racial politics," she says. "It has no place in the 6th Ward because the ward is progressive."

Kessler told the Beacon that there were no racial motivations behind the mailer. He also said he never reviewed the mailer himself. But Howard Wynder, Kessler's campaign manager, says the message was a big mistake, not least because all the photos in the mailer depict Kessler interacting with white males. "When I saw that mailer I thought it was stupid," Wynder told the Beacon.

The race between Triplett and Kessler will be one to watch as the primaries near. The 30-year-old Triplett -- the youngest active alderman -- comes from a political family and remains the favorite, having secured the endorsement of Board President Lewis Reed (who is from the neighborhood). Kessler, a lawyer-turned-artist who appeals to downtown loft types, is an interesting candidate who's gotten lots of media attention for his quirky lifestyle. He'll need to gain momentum between now and March 8 for a victory.

UPDATE: This post was updated to note that Kessler told the Beacon he did not review the mailer before it was sent out.

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