ST. LOUIS — An aldermanic committee on Wednesday held up action on Mayor Lyda Krewson’s nine nominees for the metropolitan Board of Freeholders and demanded that she include more north St. Louis residents on her slate.
The Intergovernmental Affairs Committee’s 4-2 vote to table Krewson’s nominees keeps the appointments from moving to the full Board of Aldermen for approval — at least for the time being.
The move puts in doubt the makeup of the city contingent on the freeholders board, a regional panel that will consider changes in the governance set-up for St. Louis and St. Louis County.
Formation of the panel was triggered by a petition drive launched by municipal leaders in the county as an alternative to the failed Better Together city-county merger plan.
Steve Conway, Krewson’s chief of staff, said what happens next with Krewson’s nominees is “up in the air.”
Conway said three of the mayor’s appointees are from North Side wards, three from South Side wards and three from central-corridor wards.
However, aldermanic committee member Sharon Tyus, D-1st Ward, pointed out that only one nominee — Abdul-Kaba Abdullah, a development official — lives north of Page Boulevard in the heart of the heavily black North Side.
The two other appointees from North Side-rooted wards cited by Conway live in parts of the wards on the western edge of downtown and on Delmar Boulevard in the DeBaliviere Place neighborhood.
Committee chairman Sam Moore, D-4th Ward, said he and other North Side aldermen will submit a list of four North Side residents they want Krewson to substitute for some of her nominees. He wouldn’t disclose the names to a reporter Wednesday.
Moore, Tyus and two other black members of the aldermanic committee at the meeting — Pam Boyd, D-27th Ward, and John Collins-Muhammad, D-21st Ward — teamed up to vote in favor of the motion to block the Krewson nominees.
Whites narrowly outnumber blacks on Krewson’s nominee list, 5-4. Tyus complained that one of the black appointees, Taunia Allen Mason, a St. Louis Science Center manager, is the Republican committeewoman for the 28th Ward in the Central West End. Mason can’t adequately represent heavily Democratic north St. Louis, Tyus asserted.
The two voting against the motion, Dan Guenther, D-9th Ward, and Bret Narayan, D-24th Ward, warned that it might result in the city not being represented on the freeholders.
“It would be a big mistake,” Guenther said, adding that the regional board could consider various ideas to improve social services, schools and other services.
Tyus said while the freeholders process might produce some “great ideas” to put before voters, “it won’t happen if we don’t have people who are included from all sections” of the city.
Guenther suggested that the committee send at least some of Krewson’s names to the full aldermanic board. Narayan proposed sending on all the names, with individual recommendations that they be approved or rejected.
Conway said the process used by Krewson to choose her appointees was open and transparent. He said the public was asked on the city website to submit names and aldermen were asked to do the same in a letter Aug. 6.
He said the appointment process was complicated by the requirement that the mayor’s list not include more than five people from any one political party.
Meanwhile, the County Council on Tuesday interviewed eight of County Executive Sam Page’s nine freeholders nominees. Gov. Mike Parson, who picks the 19th member of Board of Freeholders, has not announced his selection yet.
Jeremy Kohler of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.