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Holly Leicht: Bloomberg is the right candidate for the Show-Me state

Holly Leicht: Bloomberg is the right candidate for the Show-Me state

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Election 2020 Mike Bloomberg

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg speaks at the North Carolina Democratic Party's Blue NC Celebration Saturday in Charlotte, N.C.

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Although I’ve lived in New York City for almost 23 years, my husband is quick to tell people I’m still a St. Louis girl at heart, a badge I wear proudly. To be from Missouri is to know that the Show-Me State isn’t just a license plate motto, it’s who we are: We don’t suffer fools, and we call bull when we see it. That’s why I believe Mike Bloomberg is the right president for Missourians — Democrats and Republicans alike.

Let’s be clear: Bloomberg’s record isn’t perfect. For all the good he did as mayor of New York City, his legacy is tainted by his continuation of the Rudy Giuliani era of stop-and-frisk police practices and past comments that don’t square with the progressive values he espouses. Still, having worked in his mayoral administration for seven years, I’m convinced he not only would be the best president among the options we have, he is the only candidate with the right combination of bold vision, pragmatism and no-one-owns-me autonomy needed to defeat President Donald Trump.

I went to work at New York’s housing department in 2004, just as Mayor Bloomberg was launching one of the nation’s most ambitious affordable-housing plans. Billions of dollars were allocated to my agency to build affordable housing — resulting in nearly 175,000 homes for low-income and working-class New Yorkers.

The Bloomberg administration was run more like a well-oiled company than a government bureaucracy. My agency’s mandate was to build as much affordable housing as possible, and we were empowered to cut red tape wherever necessary to make that happen. The few times someone directed us to vet a decision at the highest level, word invariably came back to do what we thought was right, even when it wasn’t the most politically expedient approach.

Since leaving City Hall, Bloomberg has continued to work for the public interest. Most visible has been his support for the environment and gun safety, but what I’ve seen personally is more behind the scenes. He’s quietly ensuring that the World Trade Center’s redevelopment gets done. He spearheaded fundraising for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum while mayor, but I’m not sure even most New Yorkers know he is behind the push to complete the Performing Arts Center, the last public building slated for the World Trade Center complex, by the 20th anniversary of 9/11 next year.

My personal experience notwithstanding, I understand why Bloomberg’s past mistakes trouble some voters. Those mistakes cannot be justified and should not be whitewashed. But unlike most politicians, Bloomberg owns his mistakes: He’s apologized, learned from them, and is holding himself accountable to do better. What a welcome departure from current leadership and, frankly, most of the other Democratic candidates.

I share many people’s frustration that there’s no ideal Democratic candidate — I worked in the Obama administration, so believe me, I get it. But I’m writing this because too much is at stake to continue down the road we’re on. I’ve spent most of my career in government because I fervently believe there are few other jobs in which one can have as much positive impact. That belief was first instilled in me working for Mayor Bloomberg.

We must come together behind the candidate who has the best record of getting things done and the best chance of beating Trump, and that candidate is Bloomberg. While he’s never been the strongest debater and may be a long shot in today’s polarized political climate, I’m confident that if entrusted with the White House, Bloomberg will make our nation safer and more equitable, prosperous and respected.

Show me, you say? Vote for Bloomberg, and if he gets elected, you’ll see for yourself.

Holly Leicht grew up in Kirkwood and worked in Mike Bloomberg’s mayoral administration from 2004 to 2011.

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