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Several incumbents unseated at St. Louis Board of Aldermen

Several incumbents unseated at St. Louis Board of Aldermen

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New St. Louis aldermen take their seats on first day of session

Board of Aldermen President, Lewis Reed, (center), presides over the first day of the city's newest legislative session on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, in City Hall. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS — There will be four new faces on the Board of Aldermen this year after voters unseated three incumbents and filled one vacant seat — uncommon turnover for a body that typically reelects incumbents.

In the 5th Ward covering part of downtown and the near North Side, incumbent Tammika Hubbard, a member of a prominent political family, appeared to fall short of challenger James Page, the head of the Downtown Neighborhood Association. Hubbard has represented the ward since 2011.

Though Hubbard won more votes than Page in the March primary, the real contest under the city’s new voting rules was April, and Page managed to make up the difference over the last month.

In the 12th Ward covering parts of southwest St. Louis, challenger Bill Stephens, a St. Louis Public Library employee, narrowly beat incumbent Vicky Grass, the retired head of the politically influential Fireman’s Retirement System of St. Louis.

“You all voted for change, and I’m committed to doing my part in putting an end to the disastrous cycle of decline in our city,” Stephens said in a statement shortly after his race was called. “We have a ton of work to do in reconstructing public safety, investing in economic development, and pushing for political transparency, and I am eager to get to work.”

The only open seat on the ballot Tuesday, the 17th Ward, looked likely to be filled by Tina “Sweet-T” Pihl, a city planner and past president of the Forest Park Southeast Neighborhood Association. She beat Michelle Sherod, who had been an aide to former U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and was backed by the ward’s retiring alderman, Joe Roddy. The unofficial results appeared razor-thin, however, with less than 20 votes separating the two candidates.

In the 13th Ward, Anne Schweitzer unseated the incumbent, Beth Murphy, who has represented the area north of Carondelet Park since 2014. Schweitzer, a public relations and political consultant at Richard Callow’s Public Eye, outraised Murphy and won nearly 600 more votes than Murphy in the March primary.

The results followed a progressive-backed campaign targeting four races to “flip the board” by electing enough aldermen for a progressive majority at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. Stephens, Schweitzer and Pihl were three of the four candidates backed by the progressive “flip the board” push.

The progressives fell short in the 7th Ward, where incumbent Jack Coatar fended off a challenge by Shedrick (Nato Caliph) Kelley, one of the “flip the board” candidates.

One of the effort’s leaders, Alderman Megan Green, easily cruised to reelection over former Alderman Jennifer Florida in the 15th Ward covering the Tower Grove South neighborhood.

Sharon Tyus again fought off a challenge from Yolanda Brown, who ran against Tyus eight years ago to represent the 1st Ward along north Kingshighway and Interstate 70. Dan Guenther also won reelection over Ken Ortmann, who Guenther beat to take the seat covering southeast St. Louis four years ago.

In the 27th Ward, Pam Boyd denied another effort by the Carter family to retake the seat covering the Walnut Park neighborhoods that until 2017 it had held for nearly 20 years. In the 21st Ward, John Collins-Muhammad beat Laura Keys, the Democratic committeewoman for the ward near O’Fallon Park. Aldermen Brandon Bosley, 3rd Ward, and Marlene Davis, 19th Ward, also easily won reelection. In three wards, no one challenged the incumbents.

In the 4th Ward, incumbent Dwinderlin Evans defeated challenger Edward McFowland.

Voters also easily approved for another five years St. Louis’ 1% earnings tax paid by those who live or work in the city — a question city voters see twice a decade under a 2010 law Missouri voters passed. Loss of the earnings tax would devastate the city’s budget, backers argue, because it accounts for over one-third of its general revenue.

Mayor Lyda Krewson, who did not run for reelection, and Collector of Revenue Gregory F.X. Daly, each contributed $50,000 from their campaign accounts to an effort supporting the earnings tax. A committee affiliated with local business group Greater St. Louis Inc. also contributed $25,000 to the campaign to retain the tax.

While retired philanthropist and libertarian-leaning political donor Rex Sinquefield has supported past campaigns to repeal the tax when it was on the ballot, there was no organized effort to convince voters to repeal it this year. Voters renewed the tax with about 72% of the vote in 2016 and 88% in 2011.

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