Turnover at the St. Louis Board of Elections

Feb 11, 2011

Two current members of the St. Louis city Board of Elections say recent reports of turmoil at the board have nothing to do with Gov. Jay Nixon's announcement today that he's named three new members of the board.

"Realistically there’s no way a story would appear and two days later the announcement would be made," said Republican member Carol Wilson. "Those appointments already had to have been I the works for quite a while." A spokesman for Gov. Jay Nixon said pretty much the same thing.

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch article published earlier this week spoke of board meetings that had descended into finger-pointing and name-calling. A staffer resigned.

Democratic chairwoman Eileen McCann was featured prominently in the article, with Jack Lary, the one member to be re-nominated, saying things got worse when she became chairman of the board in July.

She was also at the center of a scandal that erupted in November over the board's use of a private security company that had also worked for Cong. Russ Carnahan during his campaign.

McCann dismissed any connection between the article and her ouster, saying when she took that job, judge Joan Burger's name was already being batted around as the new chair.

McCann calls Burger a good choice - and says she hopes the judge will continue efforts to change the culture at the Board of Elections.

"I think some people down at the board didn't have respect for people of color, age, or sex. I think there were some issues by some employees that led it to be more of a little boy's club than a positive, professional organization. Some of them treated it as their personal fiefdom."

Aside from Burger, a Democrat, Nixon re-nominated Lary, a Republican,  to serve as board secretary, and named Democrat Benjamin Phillips, Sr. and Republican Andrew Schwartz as members. All four will need Senate confirmation.