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Government, Politics & Issues

St. George votes to disincorporate; McCreery, Sommer win

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 9, 2011 - In effect, the St. Louis County village of St. George no longer exists.

And now, the Missouri House has an official independent with Tuesday's victory of Tracy McCreery, a Democrat who ran as independent as a result of a party squabble.

In now-defunct St. George, almost three-quarters of the tiny municipality's residents who went to the polls voted Tuesday to disincorporate and become part of unincorporated county. The 72.9 percentage in favor was far greater than the 60 percent needed. 

The final, unofficial tally: 345 in favor of dissolution, 128 opposed. The overall number of votes represented just under 60 percent of the village's registered electorate.

County officials have emphasized that it's rare for residents of a municipality to vote to eliminate it.

St. George Mayor Carmen Wilkerson was at the county Election Board, jumping up and down and then teary-eyed, when the written results were distributed by county Republican elections director Joseph Goeke.

"It's been a wild adventure," said Wilkerson, as she hugged several aldermen, allies and relatives. "We've been consumed by this for the last eight months."

Wilkerson added that she hopes the results will mean "no more of this silly, neighbor against neighbor stuff."

Wilkerson was among a bloc of St. George residents who won as write-in candidates last spring on a platform of disincorporating the community, which has been beset with police scandals and other issues for several years.

The County Council will now appoint a trustee to deal with St. George's assets, which include a small City Hall, a neighboring park, a truck and about $300,000 in the bank.

Some residents are seeking to form some sort of association to retain and maintain the park.

Wilkerson said she hoped to spend time with her grandchildren. But her sister has other plans, sending a text that declared: "If you win this, I think you should run on the national level and shut down the federal government."

Mccreery Victory Stuns Fellow Democrats

In central St. Louis County's 83rd District, McCreery handily won -- capturing 43.9 percent of the vote in a three-way battle with Democratic nominee Jeff O'Connell, a former Overland city councilman, and Republican nominee Patrick Brennan.

The battle was to choose a replacement for Democrat Jake Zimmerman, who resigned last spring after he was elected the county's new assessor.

McCreery will be the only non-aligned member in the 163-member state House, which is dominated by Republicans.

McCreery, a former aide to former state Sen. Joan Bray, D-University City, had launched an independent bid after she lost to O'Connell in weighted balloting by the district's 10 committeepeople, including O'Connell. Seven of the 10 had voted for her.

Most of the region's Democratic officials had backed O'Connell, who has labor ties. But many of the region's progressive women's rights and gay groups supported McCreery. Bray served as her campaign treasurer.

In unofficial final tallies, McCreery received 1,647 votes, compared to 1,096 (29.21 percent) for O'Connell and Brennan's 1,005 votes (26.79 percent).

Right after the vote, state Democratic Party executive director Matt Teter tweeted congratulations to McCreery -- a signal of a swift party effort to heal any wounds.

Early Wednesday morning, McCreery emailed a statement to supporters that said, in part, "As a veteran of many campaigns, I'm proud to say this result was pretty amazing and upended conventional wisdom. What started on Labor Day weekend with a simple petition drive quickly grew into an incredible team of volunteers, supporters and partners who took ownership of this campaign and made it into something far better than I ever imagined."

Because of so many hardworking backers, she added, her victory was simply "the cherry on top of the sundae."

In St. Charles County, voters in the 15th District state House seat chose Republican Chrissy Sommer to succeed fellow Republican Sally Faith, who was elected last spring as the mayor of St. Charles.

But Sommer's margin was surprisingly narrow -- 38 votes more than Democrat Paul Woody. Also losing was Libertarian Bill Slantz.

Sommer received 1,874 votes, Woody 1,836 votes and Slantz 94 votes. Sommer's victory was just large enough to avoid a recount under Missouri law.

"We won!!!" Sommer wrote on her Facebook page. "It was very close, but I am proud to be heading to Jeff City to represent the great people of the 15th District, St Charles, and state of Missouri. And thanks to all of my volunteers for your countless hours of helping this victory become a reality."

In St. Louis County, election officials reported no major problems at the 36 polling places it had open for Tuesday's three contests, which made up one of the smallest elections that the county has overseen in some time.

Democratic elections director Rita Days said that the percentage turnout was expected to be the largest in the tiny south county municipality of St. George, where residents decided whether to disincorporate.

Aside from St. George and the 83rd, the county also was overseeing a municipal judicial contest in Florissant. Daniel Patrick Boyle beat out Kevin Kelly by 47 votes. Boyle received 1,490 (50.75 percent), while Kelly collected 1,443 votes. (49.15 percent).

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