A first look at the March 5 primary in St. Louis: Who's vying for board president, other seats | St. Louis Public Radio

A first look at the March 5 primary in St. Louis: Who's vying for board president, other seats

Jan 4, 2019

It was just 59 days ago that voters across the U.S. went to the polls for national midterm elections.

Residents of St. Louis will head back to the polls in 60 days — March 5 — for municipal primary elections. Filing for those contests — president of the Board of Aldermen and even-numbered wards — closed Friday.

Because St. Louis is heavily Democratic, the winner of the Democratic primary generally wins the seat. But the ballot picture won’t be complete for another 10 days or so, as candidates can drop out until Jan. 14, and independent candidates who want to run in April have until Feb. 11 to file. With those caveats, here’s how the races are shaping up so far.

Board president

This is the first time since Lewis Reed was elected president in 2007 that he’ll face any significant competition for re-election. He is being challenged by term-limited State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, and Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward. 

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed fills out the paperwork to enter the Democratic primary for his office on Monday, November 26, 2018.
Credit File photo | Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Nasheed has name recognition from her 12 years as an outspoken member of the Missouri General Assembly, and will give Reed a run financially as well. As of October, Nasheed had about $375,000 in her campaign fund — about $150,000 more than Reed has on hand. She also raised more than Reed between July and October.

Reed recently paid a $1,095 fine for failing to report almost $11,000 in contributions to his campaign. If he commits another campaign-finance violation in the next two years, he’ll have to pay an additional $9,855.

Green will be overmatched in the fundraising department (she had less than $20,000 on hand as of October), but is relying instead on the enthusiasm of the more-liberal wing of the Democratic party.

Perennial Democratic candidate Jimmie Matthews has also entered the race, as has Jerome Bauer on the Green Party ticket. 

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis (left) and Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward (right) sign paperwork on November 26, 2018 to challenge Lewis Reed for president of the Board of Aldermen.
Credit File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Open seats

Nine new aldermen have been elected since April 2017, and the board will get at least three more new members this April, with the departures of Terry Kennedy, Scott Ogilvie and Frank Williamson.

Kennedy, who will resign from the board to become its new clerk, is backing the 18th Ward Democratic committeeman, Jesse Todd, in the race. Two men who rose to prominence in different ways during protests over police-involved shootings, the Rev. Darryl Gray and activist Dhoruba Shakur, have also filed for the seat, as has Judith Arnold, a longtime resident of the ward who helped push for the formation of a special business district. (Shakur will be on the ballot by his given name, Jeffrey Hill.)

In the 24th Ward, attorney and former alderman Tom Bauer has filed to get his seat back. Bauer, who was ousted in a 2005 recall, is familiar with one of his opponents, Lorie Cavin. Bauer sued Cavin and other 24th Ward residents in 2005 for defamation over fliers about a proposed gas station development, though Cavan was later dropped as a defendant.

The ward’s Democratic committeewoman Teri Powers, Democratic committeeman Danny Samples and attorney Bret Narayan round out the five-way race.

In the 26th Ward, Shameem Hubbard will be looking to join her sister-in-law Tammika Hubbard, D-5th Ward, at the Board of Aldermen. As the former Democratic committeewoman for the ward, she’s likely to be favored over three other opponents.

Hotly contested seats

In addition to the three open seats, all but two of the 11 incumbents will have opponents. For some, it’s their first serious challenge since they were elected. 

Joe Vollmer, D-10th Ward, Jeffrey Boyd, D-22nd Ward, Carol Howard, D-14th Ward (back) and Lisa Middlebrook, D-2nd Ward, pose for a photo on November 26, 2018 as they wait to file for office. All four are facing challengers in the March 5 primary.
Credit Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Christine Ingrassia, who represents the 6th Ward, is facing three opponents: rapper Cedric Redmond (better known by his rap name C-Sharp), Debra Carnahan — an attorney and the wife of former U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan — and Henry Gray, who is active in the Gate District East Neighborhood Association.

Cara Spencer, D-20th Ward, will face Sunni Hutton who is on leave from her position as the community development manager at the Dutchtown South Community Corporation. Wendy Campbell, the ward’s Democratic committeewoman, made the decision to drop out — she had filed on Dec. 7.

The results of the mayor’s race in 2017 showed Jeffrey Boyd could be vulnerable — he came in fourth in his own 22nd Ward — and a candidate has emerged to test that proposition, Tonya Finley-McCaw. Her son, Rasheen Aldridge, is an activist and the Democratic committeeman in the 5th Ward.

New rules

If anyone who’s filed for office changes their mind, they’ll have to make the decision to drop out sooner. Before the law changed on Thursday, candidates could exit the race up to 40 days before the election. Now, they have to do so at least 50 days before. The changes ensure that people who vote using absentee ballots will see the final list of candidates.

The March primary is also the first time in decades that sample ballots from the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners will list the candidates in the order they’ll appear on the actual ballot, rather than alphabetically.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann