Like most Americans, we at the Riverfront Times were saddened to the marrow when Reverend Al Sharpton abandoned his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination. Sure, he didn't win many votes, but out on the hustings he stole the show. While his rivals flashed condescending smiles, Sharpton spoke the hard, bitter truth. Plus, he brought good hair to the race -- not to mention splashy pinstripes and a big belly filled with unquenchable fire. Dean howled, Kerry equivocated, Gephardt bored. Sharpton seized hearts and minds, and got off some really good one-liners.
Now the erstwhile candidate is reportedly mulling a move to reality TV. But we've got a much better idea. Try this on for size: Al Sharpton for mayor. Of St. Louis.
Think about it -- he's the perfect candidate. He's already familiar with the place, having visited on numerous occasions to fight for racial equality, and to stump for votes. More to the point, we need him. Our airline hub is gone, our railroad station is pathetic. Our downtown is a little like Beirut at sunset. The squirrels hide their nuts on our school board. And let's not even get started about our health department.
Al Sharpton is the answer to this city's problems. He's got the vision, and now, after months in the trenches of the presidential race, he's got the political moxie and the campaign savvy.
As mayor of St. Louis, Sharpton could seal, once and for all, the city's racial gap. Blacks and whites alike might finally cross Delmar Boulevard and scream, "Free at last!" He could give us back our swagger. Heck, he might even be able to reach across the historic Eads Bridge and offer conciliation to our great sister city to the east. At any rate, he'd bring serious clout to a city that's sputtered under the radar for far too long.
The Riverfront Times is hereby calling for a massive show of grassroots support to convince Al Sharpton to move to St. Louis and run for mayor. Not in 2005 -- he couldn't fulfill the city's five-year residency requirement in time. But if Sharpton relocates to the River City by this fall, by 2009 he'll be primed and ready to plunk down the filing fee (1 percent of the mayor's annual salary, which currently stands at $116,142).
Now, fellow St. Louisans, it's up to you. Let Al Sharpton know he's wanted, needed, here in the great Midwest. Here's a form letter to Al, beseeching him to come. Just print out, sign and mail. Also print out and prominently display the Sharpton for Mayor poster. And if you really want to show your Sharpton spirit, send in the coupon and a stamped, self-addressed envelope to receive your free red-white-and-blue Al Sharpton for Mayor in '09 button.
Finally, the Riverfront Times would like to direct a few words to the Reverend Sharpton himself.
Please, Al, move to St. Louis and run for mayor in 2009. Run, Al. Do it for all of us. Don't think of this as some kind of consolation prize. We're talking mayor of St. Louis, the 49th-largest city in America! We have the second-oldest symphony in the nation! And if you don't think that's something, well, we invented the ice cream cone and iced tea and the hot dog, right here!
It's a big decision, we know, Al. But think of it this way -- you'll win! For Christ's sake, you'll be 50 in October. It's high time you got a real job and we got a real mayor, someone who's unafraid to kick ass and take names, a political Don Quixote like yourself, willing to march into a hell for a heavenly cause. This city needs a provocateur, a flame thrower, a mayor who doesn't mind getting his uniform dirty. Plus, there's no term limits -- you could reign forever!
Think of it as a great adventure, Al. Maybe not up there with Lewis & Clark, but a pretty big deal for someone who got just 345 votes in New Hampshire. Come to St. Louis, Al. Make us proud. Come dance and play and drink with us. And, if you're in the mood, sleep with us. Lord knows we need to pick up the pace on the population front.
One last thing, Al -- remember these four words: Big Fish. Little Pond.
Think about it. We'll be in touch.