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by MK Stallings
The St. Louis American is running a series of articles penned by St. Louis first black mayor Freeman Bosley, Jr. In the first installment, Bosley discusses his rise in city politics and his campaign for circuit clerk in 1982. Along the way, he received some race-based advice from elected officials saying that he should focus on building support from his northside voting base and ignore south city. Think about that. Back in the early 1980s, it was political wisdom then as it is now that where a person lives in St. Louis indicates his or her race and for whom voters would support.
Lana Stein, professor emerita of UMSL political science department, gives a more descriptive account of the Bosley’s first city-wide race in her book St. Louis Politics: The Triumph of Tradition. Stein observes that a split white vote may have been critical in aiding Bosley’s election in 1982; a point that St. Lou’s first black mayor acknowledges in his article. His main opponents that year were white: Joe Roddy and James Connelly. There was a third opponent that year who Stein reported that some believed was in the race just to take votes away from Joe Roddy. Her name? Clara Jo Roddy. She was someone who no one heard of until that time. Conversely, Joe Roddy had significant support from black elected officials such as Bill Clay. Interestingly, Bosley beat Joe Roddy by less than 1,000 votes while Clara Jo Roddy picked up 2,000. Had she not run, maybe Joe Roddy would have won the 1982 circuit clerk race.
Link to the Bosley article: http://www.stlamerican.com/news/local_news/article_475cbf78-a7c5-11e2-a1f8-001a4bcf887a.html