For Matthews, the campaign never stops

It’s election time, and that means Jimmie Matthews is out again fighting for votes and erecting campaign signs in every corner of the city.

This time, the pastor, preacher, politician and real estate broker is running for Board of Aldermen president, as he also did in 2015. By his recollection, he’s run twice for mayor, twice
for sheriff and twice for recorder.

Except for 27th Ward Alderman, a position he won in the 1980s, and service as 27th Ward Committeeman in the 1990s, he’s never received enough votes to threaten any candidate considered major.

But Matthews isn’t about to quit. He spent about $1 each on 400 to 500 white campaign yard signs and is out regularly putting them out where voters are most likely to see them.

“I work every day,” he said, in the living room of his home in the 5900 block of Lillian Avenue. “I may wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning.” He’ll go out to put up more signs, he said, just as President Trump gets up at that hour to tweet.

On the city’s interstates, he’ll start placing signs on Interstate 70 at the city limits and then continues down Interstate 55 to the southern limits. He also puts them up on Interstate 44 in the city. As the March 5 primary nears, he gathers them up and places them at all the city’s polling sites. On Election Day, he’ll go to as many polling places as he can to get more votes.

But Matthews doesn’t just rely on signs to lure people to cast their votes for him on election day. Word of mouth is faster than the internet, said Matthews, who declined to give his
age.

“I ask people to tell 10 of their friends and family to vote for Jimmie Matthews, and we will win,” he said.

He spent his own money – $907.66 – for a filing fee, and bankrolls his campaign out of his own pocket.

To Matthews, running for office is bigger than himself. “I want to represent the people. I want to represent the poor, the needy, and not the greedy.”

It’s no surprise, then, that Matthews founded the Riverview Boulevard Baptist Church at 5317 Riverview Blvd. He’s now its pastor. “This work involving politics is a ministry,” he said.

The problem in the political ministry, he said, is a lack of integrity and character in public office. “We can’t trust those who have been fixtures in our community,” said Matthews. “Our present leadership lacks wisdom and vision.”

On a specific issue, Matthews said privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport won’t benefit the people. By cutting costs and services, private companies will make flying more dangerous, he said.

A merger between the city and the county is a bad idea, he said. The county only wants to control our land and economy. “The poor folks are going to be neglected even more than
they are now.”

As one way of helping people, Matthews said there should be farms on vacant land in the city. Senior citizens should get grants to fix up their homes, using black contractors who
hire young blacks who are learning their crafts.

Matthews hopes his hard work and a platform like that will bring him into the office of Board of Aldermen president this spring. But if he doesn’t, he has plans that will take him to the middle of the next decade and beyond.

He wants to run for governor in 2020. If state voters turn him down, he might run for mayor in 2021 and then senator in 2024. Thus he will continue political work that began when he get involved in a 1st District Democratic Congressional organization when he was 18.

After that, he wants to go to Africa and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and start a ministry and business selling African jewelry, clothing, perfume, hats and scarfs.

Matthews would bring to that work experience as a retired St. Louis Public Schools teacher beginning as a substitute in 1978. He received a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Harris Stowe State University and a masters degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Matthews has done many things, but what people know him for is his unending political campaigns.

“Only losers give up. I haven’t lost until I quit,” he said.

Jim Merkel

Author: Jim Merkel

Born and raised in St. Louis, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of four books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis. For more about Jim, visit www.jimmerkelthewriter.com.

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