“I lived in the city, but I went to a county school so I had these special lenses of seeing how in one part of the city, that part of the community had so many opportunities, parks, things for people to do after school. But I didn’t see that in my neighborhood. I wanted to have a community center. I wanted to be able to go to the park and play basketball. As I continued to get older, I wanted to make a difference in my neighborhood, and I found myself doing that through activism.”
Prior to being elected as the representative for HD 78, Aldridge was involved in a number of social movements in the St. Louis area. He was involved in the “Fight for Fifteen” campaign advocating for a higher minimum wage, as well as the Ferguson movement, during which he served on the Ferguson Commission.
“It made me think during the time of Ferguson that we had elected officials that really didn’t understand the young people’s message of the pain we felt over what happened to Mike Brown, so I decided to run for committeeman in my own community in 2016,” Aldridge said.
He won that race, making him the youngest committeeman in St. Louis history, he said. Then when former Rep. Bruce Franks stepped down from the General Assembly, Aldridge saw an opportunity to continue to serve his community.
“With that being the neighborhood I had lived in my whole life, where I wanted to see something better, I took it upon myself to say, ‘I want to continue the marathon that Bruce laid out and also take it to the next level,’” Aldridge, a Democrat, said.
Among his proposed legislation for his first session is a tax credit for new businesses in distressed areas as well as a bill requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms. The latter bill, HB 2231, establishes a progressive system of penalties for the failure to do so in an effort to encourage a level of cooperation and understanding with gun owners while also reducing the number of illegal firearms on the streets, he said.
Another, HB 2268, would allow those in jail but not yet convicted of a crime to vote via absentee ballots.
But his most personal effort, HB 2352, would designate April as Limb Loss Awareness Month in Missouri. Aldridge was born with one leg shorter than the other and uses a full prosthetic.
“Individuals like myself who have prosthetics or have had amputations from war or diabetes, it’s not really talked about,” Aldridge said. “Now more than ever, there are more young people due to diabetes that are having to have a prosthetic, so being able to share my story and the stories of so many other people who have prosthetics that feel less normal than other people is important. It may take longer to get ready every morning, but we do it every day.”
Aldridge says his priorities going forward in the state legislature coincide with the working people of his community and Missouri as a whole.
“That’s very broad, and it stretches from health care to economics to making sure that people’s human rights are being abided by. Whatever I can do to help distressed communities and working families is my main focus while I’m in the capital.”