October 2014
Billie Silvey
Representative
Democracy
In 1973, Tom Bradley, the grandson of a
slave, was elected mayor of Los Angeles,
only the second African-American mayor of a
major U.S. city.  He served, until he retired in
1993, as my mayor.  He was a great mayor.  
A local school and the International Terminal
at LAX were named for him.

The American colonists fought a war to free
themselves from Great Britain because they
didn't want to be ruled (or taxed) without
representation.  

Still, it took until 2008 for a black person to be
elected president of the United States, and
Ferguson, with a 67% black population, still
doesn't have a black mayor or city
councilman.

According to
David Kimball,  political science
professor at the University of Missouri-St.
Louis who has studied the dynamics of race
and elections in St. Louis, the pattern is
common throughout the city's inner-ring
suburbs.  For one thing, it's a matter of who
votes.

Blacks in Ferguson tend to be younger,
poorer and more transient, and thus less
likely to vote, particularly in low-turnout
municipal elections.

For example, in a 2013 school board
election, Art McCoy, a popular young black
school superintendent, was suspended by the
board.  Three black candidates ran for the school
board, and only one was elected.  

"Democracy doesn't always serve the poor," Kimball
said.

For another thing, one of our major parties has been
increasing its power by passing
laws aimed at
reducing minority representation.

Claiming to do it to prevent voter fraud has been
proven a non-issue.  Google "voter suppression,"
and you'll get reams of evidence.
The only minority city councilman in Ferguson (above) is
Hispanic.  The mayor of Ferguson (right) is white.
Ferguson's white mayor and his "I heart Ferguson" campaign.  He can afford to
love his city, but what about the majority of its unrepresented citizens?