John Powell | St. Louis Public Radio

John Powell

Residents and activists pressure Ferguson's City Council members to agree to the Department of Justice's proposed consent decree during a public forum on the decree in March of 2016.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Numerous challenges await Ferguson’s next mayor, including a tight budget, frayed race relations and an understaffed police department. But the winner of April 4 contest will also face a less tangible quandary: repairing the city’s tattered image.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles is up for re-election for the first time since then-police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown in August 2014, an event that placed the north St. Louis County municipality in the international spotlight.

Michael Brown Sr. stands at the back of the Ferguson Community Center's event space during the public comment portion of a 2016 Ferguson city council meeting.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Since the presidential campaign began in earnest, it’s become fairly common for candidates to allude to the aftermath of Michael Brown’s shooting death at the hands of a Ferguson police officer.

But according to officials that represent Ferguson, neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump has visited the city since announcing their presidential bids. And with both candidates set to debate Sunday at Washington University, some of the city’s elected leaders say it’s time for Trump and Clinton to see the town for themselves.

Michael Brown, Sr., (second from the right) stands in front of the temporary memorial dedicated to his son Michael Brown, Jr. earlier this year. Brown's death had a monumental impact on the city of Ferguson -- and the St. Louis region.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On a cloudless July morning, there’s a tranquil aura around the Corner Coffee House as the clock ticks closer to the Aug. 9 anniversary of Michael Brown’s death. Daily protests have petered out and the hordes of reporters who camped out here have moved onto the next story – at least until this weekend.

But for Ferguson residents like John Powell, there is no new normal. There’s no Aug. 8. The Catholic school teacher who’s lived in Ferguson for nine years says the town he once knew will never be the same.