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Candidate beaten by Collins-Muhammad wants to succeed him as St. Louis alderman

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Antonio French supporters gather on election night in St. Louis

21st Ward Committeewoman and committeeman Laura and James Keys check returns at a watch party for mayoral candidate Antonio French on March 7, 2017, held at Palomino Lounge. Photo by Cristina Fletes,

ST. LOUIS — Laura Keys, who lost two aldermanic races to John Collins-Muhammad, now wants to be the Democratic nominee to succeed him in a special election Aug. 2.

Keys, the 21st Ward Democratic committeewoman, said Thursday she will ask the full Democratic city committee to pick her for the Democratic nomination to replace Collins-Muhammad, who recently resigned.

Collins-Muhammad, who defeated Keys for alderman last year and in 2017, on Wednesday abruptly announced his resignation.

Typically the city committee in selecting special election nominees goes along with the recommendation of the committee members from the affected ward. Keys’ husband, James Keys, is the ward’s Democratic committeeman.

The election board on Thursday voted to hold the special election in the 21st Ward on Aug. 2, which is also the date of the statewide primary to pick nominees for the November election.

The board, meanwhile, picked July 12 as the special election date in the 11th Ward to replace Alderman Sarah Wood Martin, who resigned last month.

The city charter requires special elections to be scheduled between 75 and 90 days after a vacancy develops. The August primary date couldn’t be used for the 11th Ward vote because it’s more than 90 days after Martin’s resignation.

The board voted 2-1 along party lines to print on the special election ballots the political party affiliations of candidates, with the two Democrats voting in favor and the lone Republican against. Another Republican spot on the board is vacant.

That was the same position taken by the board for a special election April 19 to fill a vacancy in the 28th Ward aldermanic seat.

That reversed the board’s earlier decision to let the Democratic and Republican committees submit nominees but to not list those designations on the ballot.

That had been an attempt to mesh Proposition D, an ordinance passed by voters in 2020 that mandated nonpartisan elections, with a city charter provision on filling aldermanic vacancies that remained in effect. The charter holds precedence.


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