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Government, Politics & Issues

Governor names Mavis Thompson as St. Louis' new license collector

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Gov. Jay Nixon made a surprise decision today by announcing the appointment of former St. Louis Circuit Clerk Mavis T. Thompson as the city’s new license collector.

Thompson will complete the term of longtime collector Michael McMillan, who resigned this summer to become the new head of the St. Louis Urban League. The post will be on the 2014 ballot.

Thompson, a lawyer, hadn’t been mentioned as a possible contender. Instead, the jockeying had revolved around three others: St. Louis Aldermen Jeffrey Boyd and Donna Baringer and state Rep. Karla May. Some had released lists of their supporters.

“Thompson’s depth of experience and dedication to public service will serve the people of St. Louis well in her new role,” Nixon said in a statement.

She had worked as an assistant attorney general for a time when Nixon was Missouri attorney general. She also is a registered nurse.

Thompson had been elected circuit clerk in the 1990s, first after being appointed when then-Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. -- an ally -- was elected mayor. But Thompson found herself often at odds with the judges that her office served.

She was ousted in the 1998 election by fellow Democrat Mariano Favazza. The position no longer is an elective post and has become largely an administrative job overseen by the judges.

Thompson received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Missouri and is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government program at Harvard University. She is currently on state's Division of Employment Security Appeals Tribunal and has served as president on the nonprofit National Bar Association’s Board of Governors.

She also has worked as a private practice attorney; an assistant attorney general during Nixon's tenure; prosecuting attorney for Berkeley, Mo.; and as the Wellston city attorney.

Besides kind words from Nixon, Thompson received a supportive statement from U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay. The St. Louis Democrat called Thompson" an excellent choice."

"Mavis Thompson is a well-regarded attorney, a trusted community leader, and a dedicated public servant who will serve the citizens of the City of St. Louis with efficiency and integrity," Clay said. "I congratulate Ms. Thompson on this appointment, and I look forward to working with her.”

Boyd, Baringer could run next year

After Thompson had been appointed by Nixon, Boyd told the Beacon he was "disappointed" by the governor's decision. He later said in a news release that he would run for the position when it comes up for election next August.

"I thought I was the best qualified candidate for the job," said Boyd. "I’ve been very committed. I’ve served my country for over 23 years as a veteran – proudly served. I’ve been serving my community for over 31 years – if you add the fact that I’ve been aldermen for 10. I think I have the tenacity and energy and discipline to get the job done and make it the most efficiently run office in the city of St. Louis.”

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, posted this afternoon on Twitter that she would be backing Boyd in 2014, calling him "a proven leader." His press released included endorsements from Alderman Frank Williamson, D-26th Ward, Alderwoman Jennifer Florida, D-15th Ward, and Alderman Stephen Conway, D-8th Ward. Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia, D-6th Ward, posted on Twitter that she also supports Boyd's bid for the office.

Baringer too told the Beacon that she was still considering running for the post. Baringer -- who has said she wants to elimiante the office as an elected position -- added that she's been "committed to cleaning up this license collector’s office." 

"And I’m committed to cleaning up city government,” she added.

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