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Government, Politics & Issues

Jones Falls Short Of Signatures Needed To Enter The St. Louis Mayoral Race

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Wiley Price
/
St. Louis American
Canvasser Madolyn Okohson-Reb, left, collects a signature for Tishaura O. Jones for Mayor from prospective voter James Sykes in the Central West End neighborhood on Fri. Dec. 4, 2020.

City Treasurer Tishaura Jones has fallen short of the 1,170 signatures from registered voters necessary to run for St. Louis mayor in the upcoming municipal election.

Jones filed to run for mayor Monday, Nov. 30, according to city records, but Benjamin Borgmeyer, Board of Elections Democratic director, said 274 signatures on her petition could not be verified or were missing. He noted there various reasons that could account for the shortage: the signature belongs to someone who isn’t a registered voter, the signature doesn’t match the voter’s on file and the lines that are left blank.

“So with this nonpartisan filing, there are a requisite number of signatures for the petition for candidacy,” Borgymeyer said. “This is because in the city code there is a provision for people running as independents to collect signatures and the nonpartisan primary triggers this part of the code for every candidate.

Jones has until Jan. 4 to collect the 274 signatures she needs to complete her filing and be on the primary ballot, he said.

“We work the petition like any other petition,” Borgymeyer said. “… We review the voter’s registration and compare signatures to what’s on the voters file.”

Jones’ campaign manager, Rosetta Okohson said she received an email from the Election Board about the signature deficit around noon Wednesday, Dec. 2. By 1 p.m. that same day campaign volunteers were out collecting signatures, Okohson said.

“We came up short and we will make sure that doesn’t happen again,” she said. “I guess I got an email about noon that we were short and by 1 o’clock we were knocking on doors, while trying to keep our volunteers safe during this time. You know, we’ve been trying to be conscious of that. That’s why we did the drive-through rallies that we did, to make it easier for people.”

Okohson said the campaign planned to turn in an additional 600-700 signatures to the Election Board.

Aldermanic President Lewis Reed and Alderwoman Cara Spencer both filed Nov. 23, the first day one could do so, and are listed as primary candidates on the city’s website.

Dana Kelly announced she would file, but has not done so yet because she was quarantining after she was diagnosed this month with coronavirus and pneumonia.

Jones announced her candidacy for mayor Nov. 4., a day after Prop D passed with a decisive margin of 86,097 votes (68.14%) to 40,261 (31.86%).

Prop D makes three major changes to the voting process in Missouri: it establishes a nonpartisan primary, gives voters the ability to approve or disapprove of every candidate on the ballot, and allows the two candidates with the most votes in the primary to advance to the general election.

Borgmeyer noted that while voters can vote for as many candidates as they want in the primary, they’re technically only allowed to sign one candidate’s petition per office. However, currently, there’s no real way for election officials to cross reference information to make sure someone doesn’t sign more than one.

In addition to the changes that come with Proposition D, all eyes are on the mayoral elections as current St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson announced she would not run for re-election next year.

The nonpartisan primary for the mayoral election will be held March 2; the general election will be held on April 6.

As of Thursday, Borgmeyer said Shedrick Kelley was the only other St. Louis candidate who had not met the petition signature requirement.

Dana Rieck is a reporter with the St. Louis American, a reporting partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

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