Sharon Q. Carpenter | St. Louis Public Radio

Sharon Q. Carpenter

Voters fill out their ballots at Central Baptist Church on Washington Avenue on March 7, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ March primaries are in the books. But don’t exhale quite yet: April’s municipal contests throughout the St. Louis region are only 22 days away.

Granted, these are typically low-turnout affairs that don’t attract as much attention as, say, a presidential election, but they’re often critical for taxation decisions. Plus, April elections can serve as pivotal showdowns for deciding the elected leadership of St. Louis County’s multitude of municipalities.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway delivered a scathing audit to St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

State Auditor Nicole Galloway has delivered a scathing audit of St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter, contending that the citywide official failed to keep adequate bookkeeping and improperly executed construction contracts to a former employee’s relative.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway delivered a scathing audit to St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Right before she battled back to reclaim an office she held for more than 30 years, St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter did something most longtime city employees do: She applied for her pension. 

Carpenter served as the city’s recorder of deeds from 1980 to mid-2014. After she resigned, she applied for and started receiving a monthly benefit of $4,238.76. Later that year, she defeated incumbent Recorder of Deeds Jennifer Florida in a landslide.

Breaking new ground is one of the trademarks of the Politically Speaking podcast, and this year was no exception. 

After three years of podcasts, Politically Speaking changed its format and put the spotlight on guests. In all, 48 episodes featured federal, state and local officials from across Missouri and Illinois – as well as a few folks who aren’t in office.

St. Louis Public Radio aired the first public debate between two candidates for St. Louis County executive, Democrat Steve Stenger, left and Republican Rick Stream (right).
Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s somewhat instinctual for Missouri political reporters to describe every election as decisive, critical or groundbreaking. And to be fair, it’s not an unnatural impulse – since every Show Me State election year for the past couple of decades has featured a competitive statewide, U.S. Senate or presidential contest.

This year, though, state Auditor Tom Schweich likely won’t lose to his Libertarian or Constitution Party opponents, and the Missouri House and Senate will remain firmly in Republican hands. And there's no U.S. Senate contest.

File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander is estimating that slightly fewer than 40 percent of the state’s voters will show up at the polls next Tuesday, a lower turnout than in 2010 — when there was more at stake on the ballot.

Area election officials also are projecting lower turnouts, ranging from roughly 20 percent in the city of St. Louis to 25 percent in St. Charles County, 46 percent in St. Louis County and 47 percent in Jefferson County.

Rep. Lacy Clay
St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay has endorsed Jennifer Florida for St. Louis recorder of deeds, putting the congressman in the middle of a complicated contest.

Florida, a former alderman, was appointed by Mayor Francis Slay this summer to hold the office  after longtime incumbent Sharon Carpenter was forced to step down over nepotism charges.

Carpenter remained in the Aug. 5 Democratic primary and won. Florida was named too late to be in the primary, and filed instead as an independent candidate on next Tuesday’s ballot

Two candidates are vying for the office of St. Louis recorder of deeds even though many are wondering why it’s an elected office at all.

The recorder of deeds is in charge of recording all property transactions and issuing marriage licenses as well as birth and death records.

This race is an odd one -- both candidates have been the recorder this year.

Jennifer Florida, the current recorder, assumed the position after the former recorder, Sharon Carpenter, stepped down in July because of violating the state’s nepotism law.

City of St. Louis

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has ordered state Auditor Tom Schweich to conduct an audit of the office of the St. Louis recorder of deeds.

In a brief written statement issued Monday, Nixon gave no explanation or reason for the audit. Schweich also issued a short statement Monday, saying that he and his office "plan to move forward with the audit as requested."  On Tuesday, a spokesman for Schweich added that the audit "will not be completed or released by Election Day."

The contest for recorder of deeds may be the most contentious race in the city of St. Louis this November.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

On this week's episode of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio's Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum welcome St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Jennifer Florida to the show.

Florida represented St. Louis' 15th Ward for several terms on the Board of Aldermen, most recently winning re-election last year.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio reporters Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcomed former St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter to the Politically Speaking podcast. 

Carpenter held the office for 34 years before she was forced to step down in July because she had violated a state nepotism law when she hired a great-nephew to work in her office for two summers. 

City of St. Louis

Despite her huge primary victory on Tuesday, former St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter says she recognizes that the next step toward regaining her job is likely to be a lot tougher.

“The worst is ahead of me,’’ Carpenter said in a telephone interview Friday.

But even so, Carpenter dismissed any talk that she would drop her efforts to return to the office that she had held for almost 34 years.

The St. Louis recorder of deeds' race has been nothing if not odd. A few months ago, the race was a low-key, low-profile and low-interest affair. Now, the contest is rife with allegations of mismanagement as well as a nepotism-fueled game of musical chairs.

The recorder of deeds is in charge of recording all property transactions and issuing marriage licenses as well as birth and death records.

City of St. Louis

Interim St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Jennifer Florida has been officially certified to run as an independent on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Florida had submitted about 2,500 signatures from St. Louis registered voters. By Monday afternoon, workers with the St. Louis Election Board had certified more than the 1,562 that Florida needed to qualify for the ballot, said city Republican Elections Director Gary Stoff.

City of St. Louis

(Updated 1:45 p.m. Monday, July 14)

Last Thursday, the day before then-Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter was forced to step down, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay approached Alderman Jennifer Florida about becoming her replacement. On Monday, Florida was sworn in.

Florida said in an interview that the mayor had reaffirmed the importance of the job and his desire to quickly deal with "this sudden impending vacancy.."

City of St. Louis

St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter, the city’s longest-serving current citywide official, is stepping down from office amid a probe into whether she violated the state’s nepotism law.

But Carpenter is expected to seek election to a new term in a few weeks – and she still has the endorsement of Mayor Francis Slay.

The nepotism ban only applies to her current term, which ends in December. It does not bar her from seeking the office again.