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Government, Politics & Issues

St. Louis Alderwoman Rice proposes regular review of city charter every decade

The St. Louis City Hall
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
If St. Louis voters approve a proposal under consideration by the Board of Aldermen, the city's charter would undergo a comprehensive review every decade.

St. Louis’ “most fundamental document” would get a comprehensive review every decade under a proposal under consideration by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

The bill introduced by 8th Ward Alderwoman Annie Rice creates a nine-member charter commission that would meet and take public input before drafting potential amendments to present to voters. Those members would be nominated by the mayor and approved by the full board, and the commission would have a year to complete its work.

The last charter commission convened in 1949. More recent changes have been piecemeal, and that’s resulted in a document that’s become unwieldy, Rice said.

“We could do some real cohesive work here,” she said of the commission. “They could submit charter amendments to the voters that would be more than just one-off changes.”

If the measure is approved by voters, people who have been city residents for at least two years and don’t have any conflicts of interest would submit an application to the mayor’s office, which would forward that list to the board. The aldermen would each select two candidates; the mayor would choose her nominees from that list.

A confirmation vote on the nominees would have to take place within 30 days. Rice said the specific deadlines are to avoid a situation that occurred with efforts to create a Board of Freeholders, in which the mayor and the aldermen could not come to an agreement on the city’s members.

Twentieth Ward alderwoman Cara Spencer, the chair of the committee hearing the bill, said the city is facing a moment of reflection and healing.

“And the reviewing of our city charter, the governing documents of our city, could play a very, very important role here, and I believe that it should,” she said.

The committee plans to hold several public hearings on the proposal. Rice hopes to put it to voters in November. If the measure reaches the required 60% threshold for a charter change, the process to create the commission would start by Dec. 1.

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