St. Louis Board of Aldermen
4:15 pm
Mon April 18, 2011

St. Louis Board of Aldermen honors Heitert, Villa

"The last elected GOP official has left the building.”

That's how Aldermen Fred Heitert concluded his remarks at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen this morning as his colleagues paid tribute to his 32 years of service.

Heitert was one of two incumbents to lose re-election bids this cycle.

He was the longest-serving member of the current board, and was ousted six years short of having the longest aldermanic career.

His colleagues who rose in tribute spoke of his wisdom, and the fact that he always paid attention.

And though Heitert was, for years, the Board's lone Republican, Ward 20 Alderman Craig Schmid said that never made a difference.

"A lot of people talked about the various fights that go on between Republicans and the Democrats, and we're seeing a lot of the things that are going on at the state level and the national level,” Schmid said. “And that certainly has not occurred here.”

Heitert said he's not sure what he'll do in his retirement. He called it an honor to serve 31 years at City Hall.

The Board of Aldermen also paid tribute this morning to a man they called a person of "character and truth."

Eleventh Ward alderman Matt Villa resigned in February to focus his attention on expanding the family lighting business.

The Villa name is legendary in St. Louis politics, and Matt said his predecessors inspired him at the age of six to run for elected office.

"I certainly want to thank my grandfather Red Villa, and Tom Villa, who taught me that you can have an honorable career as a politician,” Villa said. “I just watched them and how they handled themselves in public and decided that that's what I wanted to do."

"Red" Villa served 38 years as an alderman. The board chambers at City Hall are named for him. Matt Villa's uncle, Tom, was a board president and a state representative. Tom Villa is returning to City Hall to fill his nephew's unexpired term.