Bret grew up in St. Louis and then attended the University of Missouri – Columbia, where he majored in political science before attending Saint Louis University School of Law and serving as president Phi Delta Phi, the university’s legal honors fraternity. Bret moved to Dogtown in 2015, although he was no stranger to the neighborhood before then. Since 2015 he has been involved with the Clayton-Tamm Community Association, where he currently serves as Vice-President; the 24th Ward Progressive Democrats, where he served as Secretary; and the 24th Ward Regular Democrats. Bret has also worked with Dogtown United on Dogtown’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities and with the St. Louis Young Democrats, as their Director of Communications.
Bret has been a practicing attorney for the last five years at Narayan Attorneys at Law, where he works with his brother, who is also a lawyer. Bret works primarily in civil litigation on behalf of small businesses and “mom and pop shops,” but also does criminal defense work on behalf of homeless and low-income veterans through the Kaufman Fund. His personal ethics drive a holistic practice that provides important services to “the little guy” who needs a hand up.
Bret believes in working hard to make the democratic process available and spends time volunteering for campaigns and causes near and dear to his heart. Dogtown, the 24th Ward, the City of St. Louis, and the St. Louis region need strong advocates with the ability to work on the immediate needs of the community while maintaining a long-term vision that involves a successful, inclusive future for all residents of St. Louis. Bret’s focus, experience, drive, and ability to work collaboratively toward the greater good make him the right choice for the voters of the 24th Ward.
Our neighbors, neighborhoods, and wards face many of the same challenges. Our problems don’t stop at the borders of the wards, which is why we must communicate openly and honestly, to get to the heart of the issues.
As an alderman, I would focus on the following priorities for the City of St. Louis:
Providing Transparency Around Ward Reduction and City Governance Issues:
If the City of St. Louis is to grow, welcome new residents, and attract businesses – as well as treat our current citizens with respect – then our city government must run more efficiently and more openly. Similarly, if the Board of Aldermen is going to be reduced from 28 to 14, relevant decisions must be made in the daylight and with full transparency.
Advocating for St. Louis Public Schools:
Our public schools should be the shining jewel of the city. Unfortunately, decades of short-sighted policies have left our city schools with smaller student populations, crumbling infrastructure, and dwindling resources. This is unacceptable. The Board of Aldermen must begin to find ways to support the school district, prevent the closure of neighborhood schools, and advocate for the needs of the district in state and regional conversations.
Demanding a Public Vote on Airport Privatization:
Again, we must have an open, honest, public dialogue about the major issues affecting our region and its citizens. If Lambert International Airport – the largest asset owned by the City of St. Louis – were to be privatized, there absolutely must be a public vote on it. It should be a complete non-starter for city officials to give away our airport without hearing the voice of the voters.
Reforming Our Criminal Justice System:
Mass incarceration does not solve any problems. We need a criminal justice system that encourages people to improve their lives, rather than trapping them in a cycle of imprisonment and poverty for low-level crimes. We must identify and implement tools that reduce recidivism in instances of non-violent crimes, such as expanding our current Neighborhood Accountability Boards or instituting new policy to help combat the opiate epidemic currently plaguing our region. We must look for more solutions that keep families together, keep people working, and ultimately, allow people to successfully return to society.
Incorporating Community Benefit Agreements into Development Deals:
It’s not right to ask a city to forgo future revenue in the hopes of gaining a sports team and stadium. Essentially, this means asking every citizen, “What’s your civic pride worth?” The city should work on projects that will make the region a more attractive place to live, work, and play – but not at the expense of current city residents. Community benefit agreements, as well as payments in lieu of taxes for city schools and affordable housing trusts, must be arranged so that the whole of the city might experience some benefit. Any deal regarding a stadium should also include plans to pay workers $15 an hour.
Improving Public Safety:
Working street lights, well-maintained alleys and sidewalks, up-to-code commercial buildings, regular waste pick-up, and clean lines of sight are all feasible ways to increase safety both in the 24th Ward and in the City as a whole. These simple changes can allow our police to pursue serious cases, rather than being dispatched to 911 calls when something seems out of the ordinary.
Ending the Abuse of Tax Increment Financing:
Tax increment financing (TIF) is a much-used, much-abused development incentive that has helped drive the regional sales-tax war. St. Louis as a region must come to grips with the fact that as we pursue sales tax at the expense of our neighbors, we do a disservice to the entire region. TIFs are not an all-purpose tool, they are not meant for every project, and they should be used sparingly and only when it makes sense in the context of the situation.
Encouraging Coordination and Cooperation Between the City and the County:
It is easy to move among the city, the county, and the municipalities of the region. If we act like the County’s challenges only belong to the County, and the City’s challenges only belong to the City, then we are accepting a fragmented future for the region that condemns us to a slow doom. If we refuse to operate with one voice on the issues that matter most to us, then we will lose to cities like Chicago, Nashville, Memphis, Louisville, Indianapolis, and Kansas City. Whatever new methods of cooperation and coordination that can be pursued should be pursued.
BRET IS ENDORSED BY:
Current 24th Ward Alderman
SEIU Local 1
St. Louis City Labor Club
St. Louis - Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council
St. Louis Labor Council
St. Louis Young Democrats