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Sept. 13 primary set to begin picking a new St. Louis aldermanic president

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Voting in St. Louis

The gym at Nance Elementary School hosts voters on Tuesday April 6, 2021, in St. Louis’ mayoral election. 

ST. LOUIS — The city Election Board on Thursday scheduled a special Sept. 13 primary to start the process of electing someone to fill the last few months of recently resigned Aldermanic President Lewis Reed’s term.

In a brief conference call meeting, the board voted 4-0 to schedule the primary to pick two finalists to square off in the Nov. 8 general election.

The decision had been expected following a legal opinion from City Counselor Sheena Hamilton on Wednesday that said Reed’s term should be filled at elections later this year.

The balloting will be held using the nonpartisan “approval voting” process established by an ordinance approved by voters in 2020.

Under that system, residents vote for as many candidates as they “approve” of in the primary; the top two vote-getters then advance to the Nov. 8 general election.

So far, there are only two declared candidates: Alderman Megan Green of the 15th Ward and Alderman Jack Coatar of the 7th.

Another potential contender is Alderman Cara Spencer of the 20th although Spencer said earlier this week that she saw no reason to hold special elections for the post because someone will be elected anyway next spring for the office’s next full four-year term.

Reed, who held the president’s post 15 years, quit on June 7 a few days after he pleaded not guilty to bribery-related charges.

The timing of his resignation was past the deadline set by Missouri law for adding races to the Aug. 2 state primary ballot.

The election board chairman, Jerry Hunter, said he was pleased that the city register “in conjunction with the city counselor” had sent the board an official notice calling for a special election as the board had requested.

Hunter had said the board wanted something in addition to Reed’s resignation letter because of legal ambiguity in the city charter and ordinances on how to proceed.

“At least we will have made two possible candidates happy,” Hunter added in an apparent reference to Spencer’s comments indicating a preference for waiting until next year to pick a successor for Reed.

Joe Vollmer, the board vice president, has been filling in as acting president since Reed resigned but says he won’t run in the elections for the post.

The notice issued by the city register had included a primary date of Sept. 13. Election Board staffer Gary Stoff said board officials had told the counselor’s office that was a possible date.

Whoever is elected in November will serve until April. Another election will be held in April to fill the full term, preceded by a primary in March.

The first step for Green, Coatar and any other candidate wanting to run in September is to gather signatures of registered voters; 1,175 are required by July 15.

Under the approval voting law, if only two candidates qualify to run, both would run against each other in September and again in November.

Posted at 3 p.m. Thursday, June 23.

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