Township Supervisor Will Run Unopposed In Race For Mayor Of Metro East’s Newest City
Editor’s note: This story was originally published by the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.
Centreville Township Supervisor Curtis McCall Sr. will run unopposed in the race to become the first mayor of Cahokia Heights.
Independent mayoral candidate Tami Brooks, who was removed from the electoral ballot last month, did not file paperwork to become a write-in candidate as previously planned.
The deadline to file as a write-in candidate for the April 6 municipal election was Feb. 4. Brooks was McCall’s only opponent.
“Even though there were people who wanted to support and help [me], I just hated to waste time or anybody else’s money on something that’s going to be a very difficult hurdle to be a write-in candidate, and they don’t spell my name accurately,” Brooks said. “Just trying to face the reality of doing that was overwhelming.”
Last month’s removal of Brooks came after an objection hearing that showed she didn’t have enough valid signatures on her petition for her name to appear on the ballot . Although Brooks did meet the minimum requirement of 207 signatures, 20 of them weren’t registered voters at the addresses listed next to their names.
Brooks said she planned to file to become a write-in candidate, but she said she didn’t have enough time to submit the paperwork before the deadline.
“I’m not an expert in any of this, so I’m kind of self-teaching myself and just trying to do it and do what’s best,” Brooks said. “I wanted our village to have a choice. However, I can’t be wasting people’s money and time when perhaps we can do something that’s more practical I guess.”
McCall, who filed the objection against Brooks, agreed that it would’ve been hard for her to gain support as a write-in candidate.
‘I felt that she was right in that it would’ve probably been an uphill battle in writing her name in, but clearly that was her option,” McCall said. “If I’m the only one on the ballot, I’m going to do everything I can to turn the conditions around in these cities.”
McCall is running under the New Vision party. The other candidates who filed to run as new elected leaders of Cahokia Heights are also under the New Vision Party. They include: Debra Duncan for clerk; Jan Scott for treasurer; and Tiffany Pearce, Lisa VanMeter, Sheree Jethroe-Franklin, Gloria Liddell-Ware, James Haywood, Tonie Townsend Sr., Gwen Mccallum and Demario Weeden for board of aldermen
Cahokia Heights is the new city formed as a result of a consolidation of Alorton, Centreville and Cahokia. Voters approved the merger in a referendum during the Nov. 3 election.
City leaders, who are proponents of the consolidation, have cited the areas’ population decline as a driving factor for the merger. Among cities in St. Clair County, Cahokia had the most severe population decline, with a loss of about 9% of its residents in the past 10 years. Officials think an increase in population will attract federal funds that’ll help fix failed infrastructure in the communities.
McCall is the main leader behind the merger. He said one of his priorities if elected mayor is to look at the financial details of Centreville, Alorton and Cahokia so that the new city can operate on a balanced budget.
“We’re going to be looking to close that gap. I think that too often, governments do not run their government business like a business,” McCall said. “I think that government needs to start living within its means just like I would at my household. I’ve been working on this for the last several months and am going to be creating a financing team, so that we can stop the bleeding.”
Brooks and other residents have said they haven’t received enough financial information about how much the merger will cost them. Over the summer, city leaders held three public meetings in Cahokia for residents to learn more about the consolidation. But Brooks said there haven’t been more meetings since then.
“I feel even worse now because there is no other voice out there,” Brooks said. “They went in underhandedly and set up a new party and did this without letting anyone in the area know and that fact that he went so hard to get the one position off, it just makes me question what is the true reason for everything that’s been happening with the merger.
“Since our meetings, nothing else has come out other than knowing about the election, but there’s no information about what’s going on,” Brooks said. “It’s very disheartening.”
McCall said he doesn’t know when there will be more informational meetings about the merger, but he said that virtual meetings will be in the works soon.
“If I am elected as the new mayor of Cahokia Heights, I’m going to give it my all for the citizens,” McCall said. “The people voted for change. They didn’t vote for a certain individual. They voted for change. That’s what we’re going to give these citizens.”
Alorton, Centreville and Cahokia will officially become Cahokia Heights after the April 6 election.
DeAsia Page is a reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.