When people asked me to get behind Rick Stream, I first wanted to make sure that was the right thing. I remembered that I have a friend who helped Rick a while ago. So I asked her. Rick Stream is "a quiet leader."
"I didn't see him as a politician," she told me. We were talking about Rick Stream, the candidate for St. Louis County Executive.
The woman was a transition career counselor a decade ago. She was helping people transition from a Department of Defense organization to the civilian world when their operation shut down.
"I worked with Rick for a month, I think. He was sort of a quiet leader. Some of the guys were a lot more vocal and hard-headed, but even the loud ones would respond to Rick. They all looked up to him."
I asked her what kind of County Executive Rick might be.
"Rick's boss told me, 'If Rick said he'd do it, it got done.' So did the other people who worked with him. He is quiet with a dry sense of humor. Very detail oriented."
Why did you not see him as a politician?
"Oh, it's not that he wouldn't be a great leader. He was definitely very senior with the government, and everybody looked up to him and followed his lead. But he was quiet and thoughtful. He wasn't one to just jump up and give a speech like most politicians. And he is such a good man. He wanted to help people. I mean, really wanted to help, not just talk about it."
Why a good man entered the nasty field of politics.
When the career counselor asked Rick Stream what he'd like to do, he told her "well, I've always been a history fan. I think I'd like to go into politics."
"Why don't you do that, then?" she asked.
So he did. He became a Representative in the Missouri House. He served as chairman of the House appropriations committee. Then he decided to run for St. Louis County Executive against my friend, Tony Pousosa. You probably know that I endorsed Tony.
It's not easy to support a guy who beat your friend in a primary. So why am I doing this?
My conversation with someone from Rick Stream's past mattered to me.
It's one thing to hear political people talk about a candidate. It's another to hear a report from a woman who knew the man 10 years ago, before he first ran for office. At the time my friend worked with Rick Stream, Rick was in no position to do anything for her.
Now, I know whatever I do to help elect Rick Stream, I'll be helping a good man who wants to help people, who is a highly competent manager, detail oriented, and respected by everyone who works with him.
St. Louis County, after a decade of Charlie Dooley, is in danger. St. Louis County is in decline. Wages in St. Louis region are flat. Job growth lags most similar size cities across the country. Municipal courts and small town police departments have intimidated, impoverished, and alienated residents through obnoxious and corrupt courts. Ferguson has become a symbol of government failure. And many county school districts are failing.
Rick Stream may not be a flashy, glib politician like Charlie Dooley and Steve Stenger. Thank God. St. Louis County doesn't need another corrupt narcissist who uses the power of government to transfer tax dollars to friends.
St. Louis County needs:
- thriving new businesses,
- more jobs with climbing wages,
- more quality school choices for parents,
- more trust in government, and
- an end to rampant corruption.
In November, we will choose between Dooley Light and a respected leader.
This right-leaning libertarian is voting for the respected leader, Rick Stream.
I hope you will, too.