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A cheat sheet for understanding Tuesday's St. Louis election

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St. Louis voters go to the polls today to select aldermanic candidates for the general election in April. For some of the candidates, who lack Republican or other party opposition, a win in the primary amounts to re-election.

For information about voting, or polling places, check the website of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. Polls are open until 7 p.m.

The only citywide official up for re-election is Lewis Reed, the president of the Board of Aldermen, who faces a surprisingly smooth path to reelection. In his next term, Reed says he’s focused on instituting a civilian review board for the St. Louis Police Department and getting a bonding package before the voters.

Among the races for seats on the 28-member Board of Aldermen that have generated the most interest are:

  • the 7th Ward contest to replace Phyllis Young, who retired late last year. The three-way contest pits lawyer Jack Coatar against lawyer Chelsea Merta and Samuel Cummings III, a software developer and entrepreneur. All three are under 30.
  • the 15th Ward finds Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward, who won the seat last fall as an independent after Jennifer Florida resigned to become recorder of deeds, trying to keep her seat. Her challenge is Beth Braznell, past president of the St. Louis Association of Realtors. Green has Reed's endorsement; Slay has contributed to Braznell's campaign.
  • the 20th Ward, in which Alderman Craig Schmid, Schmid, an alderman, since 1995, is facing opposition from fellow Democrats Democrats Cara Spencer and David Gaither. Gaither, a social worker, ran unsuccessfully against Schmid in 2011. Spencer is the director of business development for Nebula Coworking and South Side Spaces. In some respects, the race reflects the differences between longtime residents of the Cherokee St. area and the new businesses that call it home.

While the campaign for this election has been low key and mostly low profile, political observers will be reading the results like tea leaves for what they indicate. Among the key things to look for:

  • the fate of candidates endorsed the police officers association and their impact on passing a civilian review board,
  • the success or failure of candidates endorsed by Mayor Francis Slay,
  • the role of money in assuring victory.

Listen to our political reporters handicap today's election -- and interview Lewis Reed -- in this recent Politically Speaking podcast.

Susan Hegger comes to St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon as the politics and issues editor, a position she has held at the Beacon since it started in 2008.

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