Best Member of the Loyal Opposition

Jeanette Mott Oxford

In one corner stood the mayor, the Board of Aldermen, the governor, billionaire baseball owners, Dick Gephardt, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jack Buck, Ozzie Smith and the best lobbyists money can buy. In the other corner stood opponents of a publicly funded baseball stadium for the St. Louis Cardinals. They had only truth on their side, which, all too often, isn't enough when it comes to St. Louis politics. But in this case, truth and Jeanette Mott Oxford overcame all obstacles.

By the time the Legislature adjourned, Oxford and her cohorts had kicked ass. Not only did state lawmakers refuse to open public coffers to the baseball team, Oxford et al had gathered enough signatures to force a public vote on taxpayer subsidies for new sports palaces in St. Louis. To be sure, Oxford didn't do it all by herself, but, as frontwoman for the Coalition Against Public Funding for Stadiums, she bore the brunt of criticism. Organized opposition to the ballpark didn't jell until she came on board and put together an unlikely alliance of Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Greens. Some accused her of grandstanding on the ballpark issue to improve her chances of winning public office. Others said Oxford and her ilk were perennial naysayers who never saw a good idea they didn't hate.

Sheer ridiculousness. If Oxford was hellbent on going to Jeff City, she would have picked a lesser opponent than Russ Carnahan, the governor's son, whom she nearly beat two years ago in a state House race. No, Oxford marches to her own drummer, and for that we should all be grateful.

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