Voters Reject MSD Rate Hike, Give St. Louis County Council Its Own Attorney | St. Louis Public Radio

Voters Reject MSD Rate Hike, Give St. Louis County Council Its Own Attorney

Apr 2, 2019

St. Louis and St. Louis County residents on Tuesday rejected a Metropolitan Sewer District tax increase aimed at stopping erosion and flooding.

Voters also endorsed designating an attorney to represent the St. Louis County Council, while in Ferguson Fran Griffin defeated Michael Brown’s mother, Lezley McSpadden, and incumbent Keith Kallstrom for a seat on the city council.

MSD asked voters for more money for stormwater service to stabilize creek and stream banks and to deal with flooding. The new fee, based on how much of a property can absorb water, would have cost a homeowner an average of $27 a year.

The new fee, which failed by more than 5,300 votes, would have generated around $30 million a year. It would have supplemented MSD’s current stormwater services, which cover things like replacing manhole covers and regulatory compliance.

Meanwhile, voters in St. Louis County passed a charter amendment that would effectively give the St. Louis County Council its own attorney. That measure passed by nearly 10,000 votes.

The amendment would split the county counselor’s office into three divisions. Attorneys would represent the executive, legislative and judicial branches of county government. It comes as the county council has been insistent on getting its own attorney, as members contend the county counselor is too close to County Executive Steve Stenger.

But detractors of the charter amendment pointed out that since the county counselor would still oversee the council’s attorney, it would not actually produce the independence that proponents hoped to get.

This is the second time in a year that the council sought to amend the charter to get its own attorney. An effort in August 2018 failed by a narrow margin.

Reed re-elected

St. Louis Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed declares victory in the March 5 primary, after defeating three other candidates for re-election.
Credit File photo I David Kovaluk I St. Louis Public Radio

As expected, St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed won election to a fourth term.

Reed easily defeated Green Party candidate Jerome Bauer in the general election. But the real contest was the Democratic primary, where Reed narrowly defeated Sen. Jamilah Nasheed and Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward.

After he’s sworn into a new term later this month, Reed will likely be the swing vote on some key decisions — such as whether to bring in a private operate for St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

Tuesday also made this year’s slew of aldermanic races official. Most candidates that won the Democratic primary ran unopposed. Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia defeated Republican Michael Hebron in the city’s 6th Ward. Democrat Bret Narayan beat two independent candidates to represent the 24th Ward.

Fran Griffin celebrates her win in Ferguson's City Council race with supporters at Club Diamonds in Ferguson.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Griffin wins Ferguson City Council seat

In Ferguson, Griffin captured the 3rd Ward council seat by 28 votes over Kallstrom. McSpadden came in third.

The race gained more attention than usual thanks to McSpadden. Her son’s death sparked protests and a national conversation about how police interact with African Americans.

Still, many Ferguson residents who had been pushing for change endorsed Griffin. She pointed to her experience on a number of city boards and neighborhood associations, which Griffin contends showcases her commitment to Ferguson in the aftermath of Brown’s death.

Griffin also had support from some Ferguson residents who had been critical of how the city’s government responded to aftermath of Brown’s death.

Kallstrom, the council’s longest-serving member, had said he hoped his lengthy tenure made a mark among 3rd Ward residents. He touted his experience with the city’s consent decree, a federal agreement charting how Feguson’s government and police department are run.

Next year will bring major change to the city, as Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III will be barred from running for another term.

Layne and Miller capture SLPS school board seats

Five of the seven candidates for the St. Louis school board answered questions at a forum in March. Adam Layne (left) and Tracee Miller (not pictured) won seats in Tuesday's election.
Credit Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Adam Layne and Tracee Miller won seats on the board of the St. Louis Public Schools, beating out five other candidates on the ballot.

Since 2007, the elected school board has had little power — the district has been run by the Special Administrative Board which features appointments from the governor, mayor and Board of Aldermen president.

But with SLPS gaining accreditation, the elected board is expected to regain its power in the near future.

The state school board is expected to gather in St. Louis in late April to vote to end its control of St. Louis Public Schools. The SAB will then cede back to the elected school board on July 1.

St. Louis Public Radio's Ryan Delaney contributed information to this story.

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