A challenger has emerged in the Clayton Ward 1 Aldermanic race, setting up a rare race in the city for the first time in five years.
Blair I. Kaiser announced his candidacy for Alderman in Clayton’s Ward 1 on Jan. 17 and will challenge incumbent Joanne Boulton on April 3 in the first contested aldermanic election in Clayton since 2012.
“Twenty-Four years of uniformed U.S. Air Force service ingrained in me a deep affinity for serving others,” Kaiser said. “I want to leverage my extensive management experience from both Air Base Wing level and The Pentagon to represent the best interests of Ward One in the Aldermanic “executive oversight” role in City of Clayton’s municipal government. But more broadly, I want to utilize the leadership skills I developed as a military officer and commander to help redefine what the term “community” means in Ward One with an inclusive, engaged style that prioritizes active listening, earnest feedback, and unmistakable resident advocacy.”
Kaiser, a native of Staunton, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley, relocated his family to Clayton’s Hi-Pointe neighborhood in 2014, when he received the final assignment of his more than 20-year active duty career at Scott Air Force Base.
Kaiser, a retired Lieutenant Colonel whose military career began as a 1996 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, is currently a Boeing 737 pilot with United Airlines.
During his 24-year career, Kaiser rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel as a Command Pilot, amassing over 4,000 hours flying the Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Boeing C-40B (737). His other academic degrees include an M.S. International Relations (Troy State University, AL) and graduation from Squadron Officer School (Distinguished Graduate), as well as Air Command and Staff College.
Kaiser’s notable assignments included selection for Instructor Pilot duty at the 89th Airlift Wing, Andrews AFB, MD, where he served as Pilot-in-Command for the Vice President of the United States and other national leaders as well as a subsequent tour of duty on the Air Staff at The Pentagon.
He deployed eight times after Sept. 11 to Southwest Asia, culminating with selection as a C-130 Squadron Commander at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan in 2013. There, his 103 Airmen executed over 3,000 combat airlift sorties on a 24/7 tempo redeploying soldiers out of austere Forward Operating Bases without a single casualty.
Kaiser is running on the message “Engaged, Considerate, Your Advocate” and has six core issues including public safety — providing safe, vibrant and walkable neighborhoods — as well as building upon the Clayton School District’s national accolades, fiscal prudence, infrastructure upgrades and inclusivity.
Specifically, Kaiser said the biggest issue facing Clayton can be summed up in two words: smart growth.
“We must embrace downtown Clayton’s current development boom and fortify our position during this economic upturn not just as a well-situated St. Louis County seat, but as the preeminent urban setting in which to work, live and socialize in the entire metro region. I want to ensure we as a city government are looking down track beyond the rezoning and permits on these well-financed, shovel ready large developments (which I support from the standpoint of low Class-A office vacancy and residential demand studies) to prepare for second-order effects like increased public service and infrastructure demand within our longer-range Clayton Strategic Planning Process.”
Kaiser also plans to focus on promoting small business — specifically the DeMun Business District.
“Our DeMun Business District deserves a standalone business development plan because so many attributes from our downtown business core–foot traffic, parking capacity, public transit access–cannot be seamlessly translated to Ward 1,” Kaiser said. “In Hi-Pointe-DeMun we must leverage the quaint character of our (extremely rare) National Historic District designation while also acknowledging the challenge that our smaller scale presents to our hard-working business owners and exploring business promotion opportunities.”
If elected, Kaiser said he has high hopes of accomplishing big things in his first year, with a new take on how to conduct business in Clayton.
“Energize resident involvement in charting the future of Clayton by restarting regular Ward One Alderman meetings and by exploring a more formalized neighborhood council structure, especially on some currently under served multi-family zoned Ward One blocks,” Kaiser said. “Casting a broader net would yield a bounty of great ideas while building new interpersonal relationships and a fuller sense of community in the process.”
Clayton has a total of six aldermen, two from each ward. Bridget McAndrew and Andrew E. Galakatos will face off in the Ward 3 election while current Alderman Ira Berkowitz is running unopposed in Ward 2.