Updated with comments from challenger Megan Ellyia Green.
ST. LOUIS • Incumbent Lewis Reed held on to win what will almost certainly be his fourth term as president of the Board of Aldermen Tuesday.
Meanwhile, all incumbents seeking re-election to ward seats on the board won in Democratic primary races across the city.
Based on final but unofficial results from all 222 precincts, Reed got 35.6 percent of the votes followed by state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed with 31.6 percent and 15th Ward Alderman Megan Ellyia Green, 31.2 percent. Jimmie Matthews, a former alderman, had just under 2 percent.
Reed said he was exhausted, running on two hours of sleep.
"But now I could run a marathon," Reed said, a few minutes after the results came in. "I'm so excited and I am really looking forward to getting to work tomorrow in the city of St. Louis and tackling some of these big issues we have in front of us."
Reed said his message never changed during the campaign, regardless of where in the city he delivered it.
"The vote tonight shows that if you're honest, straightforward and factual with the public, they will recognize it and respond to that," he said.
Nasheed or Green would have been the city's first female board president.
"We gave this campaign everything we had," Nasheed said. "Unfortunately, the fake progressives got in the way of progress," she said, referring to Green.
Green said she was "incredibly proud of the issues oriented campaign that we ran on a shoe-string budget, that spoke directly to the needs of residents of our city."
Of the top three candidates, Green raised the least amount of money, at around $117,000, compared to $304,000 by Reed and $543,000 by Nasheed.
Green did not respond directly to the accusation by Nasheed of being a spoiler candidate.
"I'm not looking to tear another woman down on the fifth day of Women's History Month," Green said. Less than 150 votes separated Nasheed and Green.
Reed called for unity following a hard-fought race and said he hoped to put the divisiveness "in the rear view mirror and work collectively for the greater good."
The race was fueled by nearly $1 million in campaign cash among the top three candidates and was steeped in name calling, especially between Reed and Nasheed.
Voters had to weigh which candidate would best steer the city through a possible merger with St. Louis County, a proposal to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport, help stanch a decades long population decline and find a solution to a vexing crime rate that ranks among the highest in the country.
The winner of the board president race will face Green Party candidate Jerome Bauer in the April 2 election.
Reed, who has served as board president for 12 years, is seeking a fourth term. Twice during his tenure, he ran unsuccessfully for mayor, against incumbent Francis Slay, in 2013, and then-alderman Lyda Krewson, in 2017. Krewson endorsed Reed in this race.
Whoever holds the $90,000-a-year position largely decides what bills move toward law and how the city’s $1 billion budget is spent.
Reed spent the campaign saying the city is moving in the right direction, thanks in large part to his leadership. He cited a development boom in the central corridor and an opportunity to move that construction north with the relocation of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s western headquarters.
Reed said he is in a position to help implement a crime-prevention plan that has worked effectively in cities such as Nashville, Tenn., Boston and New Orleans and that he has built a strong relationship with the Board of Aldermen to ensure less political bickering and more work to elevate St. Louis to a top-tier city.
Nasheed, who was elected as a state representative in 2006 before moving to the Senate, argued that she has proven her effectiveness as a leader, understanding the power of negotiating and compromise in Jefferson City, where Republicans are in control.
Nasheed and Reed spent a large chunk of the monthslong campaign lobbing verbal attacks, each accusing the other of being unfit to lead. Reed described her as “crazy” and “insane.” She called Reed “Lying Lewis” and said he has had 20 years to help turn around St. Louis including stemming the declining population, which is just under 310,000.
Voters on Tuesday also chose the Democratic nominee in 12 contested races for aldermanic ward seats, including three in which incumbents weren't seeking re-election. Most have no opposition in April.
Winning separate five-way contests in the 24th and 18th wards were attorney Bret Narayan and party committeeman Jesse Todd, respectively.
Narayan will face two independent candidates in April in the race to succeed Alderman Scott Ogilvie, who didn't seek re-election. Ogilvie had supported Narayan. Todd, who was backed by retiring Alderman Terry Kennedy in the 18th, will be unopposed in April.
Meanwhile, in the 26th Ward, Shameem Clark Hubbard beat two opponents in the race to succeed former Alderman Frank Williamson, who resigned to take a job in the city treasurer's office. Hubbard, the sister-in-law of 5th Ward Alderman Tammika Hubbard, has no April opposition.
Nassim Benchaabane of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.