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Stephen's Lack of Education is Least of Wildwood Resident's Concern- Kate Vakalapudi Respond

In his March 6th, editorial, Mr. Portscheller makes a solid argument in defense of Mr. Stephens: a college education is neither prerequisite to the job of mayor nor essential to being a good government leader. I agree. We should instead focus on a candidate’s ability to lead, represent their constituents, understand the issues, and make wise decisions.

Where was Niles’ leadership with route 109 improvements? Other council members pointed out the improvements were a matter of public safety and forward-thinking. Niles showed little concern for residents and took aim at developers for “making this a needed project” suggesting residents sit at a traffic light “for another couple of years and be annoyed.” The residents most impacted were his own ward 8 constituents. How’s that for representation?

How about his response to erosion? In the May 13, 2019 council meeting he stated fixing erosion was “pretty simple. You need backfill you need rocks and you need plantings.” MSD expends millions of dollars addressing erosion. Stephens’ solution is a gross oversimplification. Does he know the limits of his expertise and when to seek advice?

When the ethics of harvesting resident email addresses and sending unsolicited email were called into question – Niles didn’t respect the council’s concern but instead threatened “there is nothing stopping me … I can farm emails from every Public Comments form in the city and it’s perfectly legal to send those people unsolicited emails.” Is that the kind of self-righteous leadership we want? Can he take criticism?

(image of email provided by author)

When faced with tough questions or opposing viewpoints on his campaign page he hides and deletes comments or suggests constituents “schedule a meeting” rather than answering in the public forum. What does that say about his accountability?

Did Stephens exercise good judgment when he voted against a moratorium on developing the Bliss hazardous waste site?

Is it a wise decision to send Wildwood’s Prop P dollars to “less safe areas like north St. Louis” to buy refrigerator magnets?

When it comes to Niles Stephens’ qualifications as candidate for mayor, his track record speaks for itself.

I can honestly say his lack of education is the least of my concerns.