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The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will look much different after spring elections

City Hall on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in St. Louis, Missouri.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
As filing for the St. Louis primary election ended on Friday, 10 incumbents chose not to run again, and two former aldermen looked to get back in the game. Board President Megan Green has no challengers.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen was already going to look different this year because of a required downsizing to 14 wards.

With the deadline to file for the March 7 primary having passed at 5 p.m. Friday, residents now have a better sense of exactly how different the city’s legislative body will be.

In a clear sign of the changing political dynamics in the city, Board President Megan Green will have no opposition as she seeks a full term in her post. She won a special election for president in November to replace Lewis Reed, who pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges in October and will report to prison in Arkansas soon to serve a nearly four-year sentence.

Green said her lack of challengers shows the city “is wanting something different.”

“They’re looking forward to elected officials who are working collaboratively together around a common vision to actually move our city forward,” she said. “I’m really ecstatic to continue in that work.”

The corruption scandal also forced the resignations of John Collins-Muhammad and Jeffrey Boyd. Both of their replacements are seeking reelection – Laura Keys in the new 11th Ward and Norma Walker in the new 13th. Keys will face Carla Coffee Wright, lately a perennial candidate for federal office. Walker will face two other incumbents, Pam Boyd and Lisa Middlebrook.

Ten incumbents decided not to run again, including Marlene Davis of the 19th Ward and two former Democratic committeepeople who went on to fill vacant seats in their wards – Dwin Evans in the 4th and Jesse Todd in the 18th.

With the city’s approval voting system, in which the top two candidates move on to the general election, the primary won’t matter in six races because two or fewer candidates are running: Board president and the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 10th and 11th wards. The most contested race is the 12th Ward, where as many as six candidates are running, including Sharon Tyus, currently alderwoman for the 1st Ward. Elections officials must still verify the signatures of one candidate, Darron Heggs.

The race for that new 14th Ward, which stretches along the city’s east side from downtown to O’Fallon Park, may be especially contentious. There, incumbents James Page and Brandon Bosley will face two challengers – state Rep. Rasheen Aldridge and Ebony Washington, a real estate agent.

Bosley was embroiled in controversy during the last legislative session. He voted against additional funding for COVID relief, saying that residents of his ward were dodging bullets, “not tripping off of dodging corona.” He made a point to be in his car and driving during a debate over a measure that would have prevented aldermen from casting votes during virtual meetings if they were driving. And earlier this week, prosecutors dropped charges against a woman Bosley had accused of attempting to carjack him. News reports said the decision came after Bosley did a second interview with police.

Both Page and Aldridge have in the past dispatched members of the powerful Hubbard family. In 2019, Page beat Tammika Hubbard, who was a fierce defender of Paul McKee and his planned development for the city's north side. And in 2016, Aldridge beat Tammika’s father Rodney to win his first elected office – 5th Ward Democratic committeeman.

Two former board members – Jennifer Florida and Ken Ortmann – are seeking to return to City Hall. Ortmann, whose family owns the Cat’s Meow in Soulard, lost a reelection bid to Dan Guenther in 2017. Florida left the board in 2014 after being named recorder of deeds, then tried and failed twice to take her seat back from Green, who won the special election to replace Florida.

The primary is March 7. The full list of candidates is available here.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.