She says He's a Communist; He says She's a Republican

Strange Democratic Primary in south St. Louis

Kevin Killeen
February 18, 2019 - 5:19 pm

(Kevin Killeen, KMOX)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Two Democrats fighting for the same seat in the St. Louis board of aldermen accuse each other of hiding something – she says he's a Communist; and he says she's a Republican.

It's the 14th Ward Democratic Primary, which includes the Bevo Mill neighborhood in south city.

Longtime incumbent Carol Howard says her challenger, Tony Pecinovsky, isn't telling voters the whole truth.

"He's running as a Democrat, but he's affiliated with the Communist Party USA," Howard says.

Pecinvosky says Howard is the one who's pretending to be a Democrat.

"I'm more of a Democrat than the current alderperson who I would liken to, because of her political stances, a member of the Republican party," Pecinovsky said.

Google "Tony Pecinovsky, Communist Party USA," and plenty of articles with his byline pop up on the party's website.

An interview with him in the Jacobin Magazine in 2017 identified Pecinvosky as a "national board member of the Communist Party USA."

Sitting down for an interview at a local coffee shop, Pecinovsky said at first that he didn't want to talk about his Communist Party views until after the election.

When asked point blank: "Are you affiliated with the Communist Party USA?",  Pecinovsky  responded, "I'm a member of a lot of different organizations."

Howard thinks it's misleading for Pecinovsky to portray himself to voters as only a Democrat, and she says that based on accounts she's heard of his front porch visits, he's not telling voters about his ties to the Communist Party USA.

"My fear is that the voters might be deceived by that, if you're running as a Democrat and you have a Communist Party affiliation," Howard said.

KMOX asked Pecinovsky if he's telling voters on the front porch the whole story and he responded:

"I'm a Democrat, I'm running as a Democrat. That is the main issue that voters in Ward 14 are concerned about," Pecinovsky said.

Pecinovsky says Howard is really a Republican, because she voted No on raising the city's minimum wage, and hasn't fought for a public vote on airport privatization.

Howard says she supports raising the minimum wage, but only on a statewide basis, not in the city alone. On Airport privitization, Howard says she made the motion in committee to pass a bill that would call for a public vote, but the measure failed to get out of committee.

The 41-year old Pecinovsky has had a career in organized labor as an activist.  He says he worked for the Service Employees International Union and currently serves as president of the Workers Education Society.

If elected, he says his goals include: a pubic vote on privatizing Lambert Airport, protecting access to healthcare, and supporting a living wage.

Howard says if she's re-elected, she wants to use tax incentives "responsibly," to encourage development but protect funding for public schools.  She says aldermen need to make plans for the reduction of the board from 28 wards down to 14, which is slated to take place in 2021.

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