Former state representative seeks GOP nod for congressional seat

By Alyson E. Raletz

Former state Rep. Zane Yates of Oakville kicked off his campaign for the Republican nomination for the 3rd Congressional District seat just a few feet away from the former National Lead site in Lemay claiming that, if elected, he would help to revive the “abandoned” area that sits behind locked gates.

He wants to see the area used as a working port and not as a site for gambling.

“Imagine the opportunity this prime Mississippi River location offers for commerce,” Yates told a group of about 30 people Nov. 4. “I see barges full of cargo being unloaded, transferred to trucks, delivered to businesses throughout our region. I see manufacturers and retailers bringing goods here, loading them and sending them off to other markets.

“I see a hub of activity and a business center we can all profit from. I see rail cars, trailers and people … working to make things happen.”

He told the Call that his idea to put in a working port spawned from the Lead Site being promoted as a potential gaming location — to which he is opposed.

He said a boat in south county, or anywhere along the Mississippi River, is not the solution to the region’s economic problems.

“We are not going to gamble our economic future on the boats. We are not going to let this land become the next foundation for an industry that breaks down families. I will not devote one minute to attract business based on the lure of loose slots.”

Yates, 44, was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1990, 1992 and 1994. In 1994, the Republican Caucus elected him to serve as the assistant Republican leader.

During his tenure as a state representative, he served on the Appropriations, Budget, Ways and Means, Labor, Employment and other committees.

In 1987 he served on the St. Louis County Board of Zoning Adjustment. He also, in 1996, was appointed Family Court Commissioner in the 21st District.

He told the Call that his greatest ally in implementing this economic initiative will be the people of St. Louis County. He said he knows they would love reaping the benefits such a port would bring while also putting the lead site to use.

Yates said he is running for Congress because he no longer wants the 3rd District to be the community in the region that is on “the other side of the tracks.”

“I am running for Congress because I no longer want the people of the third district to be abandoned,” Yates said. “Like the National Lead Site, I believe the 3rd District is rich in history, resources and opportunities.”

He told the Call that he believes the river is underutilized. A working port would be an efficient way of conducting commerce. And he believes the land would lend itself to a good use.

“Why now? Why here?” he said. “Because south St. Louis and Lemay and this portion of the community is suffering from a lack of economic development. It’s suffering from a lack of growth that creates more development around it. The fringe effect is important. Whatever goes up here is going to cause other businesses to come. It’s going to create more sustaining tax dividends to the community … We don’t need to keep taxing if we bring in more money through regular commerce.”

As a congressman, he said he would have the power to help make some changes. The river ways, railroads and highways are controlled through the U.S. government, he said, and he could have input on how these entities would affect the Lead Site.

“If we don’t do this, it’s going to lay barren and abandoned just like it has,” he said. “When I was in the Legislature, we were appropriating money to this site … It was significant in the purpose of putting that kind of money in and not doing anything with it.

“And I think that the state revenues and the state budget is indicative of needing more growth, more expansion. We need to be looking for more ideas. Instead of further taxing our people, instead of making loans, instead of doing federal mandates we need to be growing jobs, growing economic potential and economic development … I just think it’s an ideal opportunity.”

Another economic initiative Yates said he would help implement, if elected, would be an outlet mall similar to the one at the Lake of the Ozarks. He said this type of shopping venue would attract even more tourists to the area.