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Government, Politics & Issues

Proposed St. Louis ward map tries to keep neighborhoods together

A screenshot from the website on redistricting for the city of St. Louis showing a draft map of 14 wards on November 1,  2021
Screenshot / Rachel Lippmann
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City of St. Louis website
A first draft of the maps that will take the St. Louis Board of Aldermen from 28 wards to 14 is shown in this screenshot from a presentation Monday. A committee will hold public hearings on the map Tuesday and Wednesday.

St. Louis residents got their first look Monday at a draft map for the city’s Board of Aldermen that aims to keep neighborhoods together and minority representation intact.

Listen: STLPR's Rachel Lippmann talks about this story on 'St. Louis on the Air'

Aldermanic President Lewis Reed presented the map to members of the legislation committee on Monday. He said he had been able to talk to almost all the aldermen individually before making it public.

“This is a draft,” Reed said. “It is meant to be a working document. This gives us an opportunity to do that work out in the public so that the public sees iterations of this as we continue to refine it.”

Reed said that the new map successfully keeps most neighborhoods intact, and that he was able to “rough in where we have seven minority-preference wards and seven non-minority preference wards.”

St. Louis residents voted in 2012 to cut the board in half — from 28 seats to 14. That means aldermen will represent about 21,500 people each, up from about 10,200. The change also means political allies will likely be drawn into the same ward. For example, the first draft appears to put Christine Ingrassia, Annie Rice and Megan Green, all reliable progressive votes, into a new south-central ward.

The Legislation committee of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Monday, Nov. 1, 2021.
Screenshot / Rachel Lippmann
Members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen's Legislation committee study a draft of what the city's wards might look like in 2023 during a Nov. 1 meeting.

2021 will be the first time aldermen adjust the map based on feedback they receive from the public.

“We’re not trying to pat ourselves on the back,” said 10th Ward Alderman Joe Vollmer, the chair of the legislation committee. “This is the way the world has gone, we can now share this with the public.”

Vollmer said that as of Monday, the city had received 44 comments through the redistricting portal. His committee will hold virtual public hearings Tuesday and Wednesday, both starting at 6 p.m. The city’s charter requires that maps be in place by Dec. 31. The board is scheduled to go on its winter break after its Dec. 10 meeting.

St. Louis County maps

Meanwhile, a judge removed a member of St. Louis County’s redistricting commission just hours before that body was scheduled to meet Monday.

Thomas C. Albus ruled that Curtis Faulkner is ineligible to serve on the commission because he is also a member of the board of the Special School District of St. Louis County. The county’s charter prohibits commissioners from holding any other public office or employment.

Prosecutor Wesley Bell had asked for Faulkner’s removal through what’s known as a quo warranto process. An attorney for Faulkner said his client is still weighing whether to appeal.

County Executive Sam Page will name Faulkner’s replacement, who must also be a member of the Republican Party. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Friday.

Also on Monday, Page announced that he has replaced two commission members who did not meet the charter’s eligibility requirements. The new members are Republican John Kelly of St. Ann, representing the 2nd District, and Wildwood Democrat Karen Cloyd, representing the 7th District.

View the full redistricting draft:

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