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Local contests for mayor, proposals for schools and courts, crowd April 3 ballot

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 29, 2012 - Voters from around the St. Louis area will go to the polls Tuesday to decide on a flurry of municipal elections as well as a tax levy increases for local school districts.

Seven St. Louis County municipalities have contested mayor’s races, while nearly 80 towns and cities in the county have city council races with multiple candidates. A smaller number of contests are on the ballot in St. Charles County.

Two seats also will be filled on St. Louis Community College’s Board of Trustees.

St. Louis County has only one countywide issue on the ballot: Proposition S is a proposed $100 million bond issue to pay for new county court facilities, including the renovation of the current courts building in Clayton and the construction of a new family-courts center that would, among other things, deal with juvenile issues. 

Among the notable mayoral races:

  • In Creve Coeur, voters will go to the polls to replace incumbent Mayor Harold Dielmann, who is not running re-election. Two former members of the Creve Coeur City Council -- Barry Glantz and Laura Bryant – are running. Glantz most recently served on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
  • In Kirkwood, former City Council member Joseph Godi is challenging Mayor Arthur McDonnell. McDonnell succeeded the late Mike Swoboda, the Kirkwood mayor who was shot during the 2008 shootings at the municipality’s city hall.
  • In Ellisville, a crowd of contenders are vying to replace Mayor Matt Pirrello, who is stepping down to run for a city council seat. Two council members – Michelle Murray and Dawn Anglin – are running for the mayoral position, along with Robert Srote and Adam Paul.  
  • In Wildwood, Mayor Tim Woerther is being challenged by Councilman and former Mayor Ed Marshall.
  • In Berkeley, Ted Hoskins is seeking a political comeback in his bid for mayor.  Hoskins, who was mayor before he spent four terms in the Missouri House, is running against Babatunde Deinbo for a four-year term. Hoskins narrowly lost to Maria Chappelle-Nadal in a four-way Democratic primary in 2010 for the 14th District state Senate seat.
  • In St. Charles County,  two municipalities – Wentzville and New Melle – are also are home to contested mayor’s races. Four candidates – Bill Schuette, Nick Guccione, Leon Tow and Darrel Lackey – are running for mayor of Wentzville, one of the region's fast growing municipalities. In New Melle, the competitors are Donald Hendrich and Richard West; both are former aldermen.

Development has been a key issue in many mayoral races. In Ellisville, candidates have spoke out about whether to use tax increment financing to attract a Wal-Mart Supercenter. And in Creve Coeur, transportation development districts and trash service have also sparked debate.
Regarding St. Louis Community College, voters will fill open seats in SubDistrict 1, which spans from Hazelwood to Clayton and University City, and Subdistrict 3, which takes in southwest and southern portions of St. Louis County and St. Louis.

Four candidates are competing in Subdistrict 1: Theodis Brown Sr., chief of the Castlepoint Fire Protection Association; Daryl L. Cothran, assistant director of the St. Louis County Department of Human Services’ Workforce Development division; Doris A. Graham, retired assistant principal at Ames Visual and Performing Arts Public School in St. Louis; and Philip E. Smith, a retired professor and department chair of foreign languages at St. Louis Community College’s Forest Park and Meramec campuses.

The winner will serve a six-year term.

In Subdistrict 3, the contenders are Bob Burns, who was appointed by the board to fill the seat vacated in late December by JoAnn Ordinachev, and Joan H. McGivney, a former Southwestern Bell Corp. employee and former member of the Webster Groves Board of Education.

The victor will serve the remaining one year in Ordinachev’s term, which expires in 2013.

Throughout the region, several school districts are seeking voter approval for increased tax levies to bring in more revenue during the continued economic downturn.

Bayless School District in south St. Louis County is asking voters for a 92-cent increase to its property tax levy, imposed on every $100 of assessed valuation.  And in the Ladue School District, voters will decide whether to raise the tax rate by 49 cents.

Stephen Ables, the assistant director of the St. Louis County Municipal League,  said the only measure that his organization has endorsed is Prop S, the $100 million bond issue.

Ables singled out the mayoral contests in Ellisville, Creve Coeur and Wildwood as being particularly spirited.

But he noted that most of the region’s races for mayor, city council or aldermanic seats are uncontested. Ables said there also weren’t many local propositions on area ballots.

“In general, it’s probably a fairly tame election cycle,”Ables said. “There just aren’t a lot of issues.”

There are even some instances – such as the race for the Board of Trustees for Pasadena Park – where not enough candidates have filed for the number of seats to be filled.

“That happens every year unfortunately in one or two of the municipalities where they don’t have enough candidates file,” Ables said. “With the number of cities we have, some of them are pretty small. People don’t realize that they have the option to run, or for whatever reason, have chosen not to.”

Jo Mannies, Beacon political reporter, contributed some information for this article.

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

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