Tuesday’s primary election isn’t just the first step in choosing a new mayor for St. Louis, it also portends the beginning of significant turnover at the Board of Aldermen, which expects its largest freshman class since 1991.
Five aldermanic seats are open. Here’s a look at who is running and what they’re promising. Candidates are listed in order they will appear on the ballot.
Freeman Bosley’s decision not to run for an eighth term broke this race wide open. Six Democrats jumped in to succeed one of the most senior members of the Board of Aldermen.
Bell has lived in the ward’s boundaries since 1964, and said things used to be better there.
“We had better social services, and we’ve lost that under the present administration,” said Bell, who is in his second term as the ward’s volunteer Democratic committeeman. “I’ve been steadily trying to rebuild and come back with the idea that we can make the ward a better place.”
Bell’s priorities include new housing, repairing alleys and streets, building a new community center that can offer job training and after-school programs, and knocking down or boarding up vacant buildings.
Muhammad, who is a retired business owner, hopes to translate her time working with the city’s minority business program into development for the ward’s neighborhoods.
“I’ve had experience working with hundreds of developers and business enterprises. I’ve developed relationships with both of those agencies and with individuals over the years, and I’ve had the opportunity to build bridges and work with others wards, so that we can all work collectively to build up not just the north side but the entire city of St. Louis,” Muhammad said.
Though she has not been endorsed by Mobilize Missouri, the progressive organization that emerged from the campaign of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt. Muhammad’s campaign focused on similar themes of the candidates that do have the organization’s support.
“I know that I bring that same progressive energy,” she said.
John C. Price
Price, a general contractor and lifelong 3rd Ward resident, said the area feels forgotten.
“My first priority would be cleaning up the ward,” he said. “We need to get the derelict buildings down, fix up the ones that can be fixed up, getting community centers and grocery stores and job development in the ward.”
Price also wants to create block units — putting cleanup duties in neighbors’ hands — and restart the “Officer Friendly” program, where police officers introduce themselves to children at area schools. He said he’d also tap into the relationships he’s developed in his construction business.
“I also used to be a clerk at the civil courts building, and I have a couple of friends who are police officers in the 3rd Ward. I know a few people that are willing to help me get our 3rd Ward back to the way it used to be,” Price said.
Bosley is the son of the outgoing alderman and Lucinda Frazier, the 3rd Ward Democratic committeewoman. Name recognition makes him the favored candidate, but Bosley said he’ll be different from his father.
“I love him to death, he taught me a lot, but he grew up in a different era,” Bosley said. “He grew where you had people who would make sure you could get 500 people to come to a meeting, you could get community leaders to come out and fight for one particular block or one particular area even when they did not live there.”
Bosley said he’ll focus on rebuilding the sense of community he remembers from growing up in the ward.
“The most important thing that we have as a community is community. So when it comes down to us asking for things, when it comes down to us working with the city and the state, they must first see that we are really working with ourselves to get things done,” Bosley said.
Last month, Young, who has a child with Freeman Bosley, threw her support behind another child of Bosley’s, Brandon, who is running for his father’s seat. “I will support Brandon out of respect,” she said.
Bailey is trying to return to the Board of Aldermen; she represented the 19th Ward between 1991 and 1997. Redistricting 16 years ago put her home into the 3rd Ward.
“But there’s also some new funding that could be available through crowd-funding,” she said. “I’m really excited about seeing where we can build partnerships, who we can get to not just fight and work with people for the small pots of money that are here, but reach out.”
The Villa family has represented the ward for most of the last 60 years, beginning with Red Villa, who held the seat for 37 years – a record for the Board of Aldermen. So it came as a surprise when incumbent Alderman Tom Villa, the son of Red, dropped his re-election bid.
It also touched off a three-way contest. The three Democratic contenders, in ballot order, are:
Brown is a registered nurse who has been active in the ward but is making her first bid for office.
“My platform is safety, growth and change. I’m all about transparency, accessibility and accountability,” she said. She is particularly concerned about prostitution and drug dealing in parts of the ward. Statistics for drugs and prostitution are not included with the city police department’s crime stats.
Tucker has filed for alderman twice before, though hasn’t been successful. He operates Tucker’s Bar and Grill at 8518 South Broadway, as well as a construction company and an auto-repair firm.
Tucker says much of the ward has been ignored for years, which he says has contributed to the prostitution and drug problems.
“This neighborhood down here is so bad with prostitution and drugs, and I don’t understand why anybody can’t do anything about it,” he said. “You can walk up and down Broadway, and we haven’t had an alderman even walk into one of the businesses in years, and ask if they’ve needed any help.”
Sarah Wood Martin
Martin enjoys the backing of Villa, who has been campaigning with her.
She is a government relations consultant and the wife of Democratic state Sen. Jake Hummel.
She says she wants to be more active in the ward, and cites crime as a top issue. She served last year on the state’s human-trafficking task force, which she says has made her familiar with the issues contributing to the prostitution problems that some residents complain about.
Martin wants to encourage more redevelopment along south Broadway, which she says “has the potential of being an amazing walkable area.”
She also points to the ward’s diverse housing stock: “People don’t know that it’s one of the first settlements west of the Mississippi. We have housing stock like you see in Lafayette Square, the Central West End. We have mid-century. I think we could market that.”
This is one of the more competitive aldermanic contests. The seat became vacant after former Alderman Donna Baringer won election to the Missouri House.
Oldenburg, a Democrat, has three big names in his corner: Baringer, Mayor Francis Slay and 16th Ward committeewoman Lousie Tonkovich.
He’s has been active with the St. Louis Hills Neighborhood Association. In addition to making the Hampton Avenue business district more attractive for residents and visitors, Oldenburg wants to help chart out a citywide economic development strategy.
“I feel like my professional background really lends itself to the skillset of an alderman and the skillset of what we need to work on in terms of challenges to the concept of what is the great American city,” said Oldenburg, who handles tax credit development deals at U.S. Bank. “I have a background in urban planning and real estate development.”
Both Oldenburg and candidate Michele Kratky had more than $35,000 of cash on hand going into the final days of the campaign, a hefty sum of money for an aldermanic contest.
The Democrat spent the last nine years in the Missouri House representing a portion of southwest St. Louis. Before succeeding her husband, Fred Kratky, in the legislature in 2008, she worked for the St. Louis Association of REALTORS.
In addition to boosting the 16th Ward’s business districts and maximizing public safety, Kratky promises she’ll be accessible, stressing that she will be a “full-time alderman” and not take another job if she’s elected.
“I think it helps that [residents] know I’ve been committed to this area,” Kratky said. “I’ve lived in the 16th Ward all of my adult life. I care about it. I’m sure there will be some people who will see the downside. ‘Oh there’s been a Kratky.’ … This is something that we truly believe in: It’s politics and getting involved in the community.”
She has endorsements of several prominent south St. Louis political figures, including Collector of Revenue Gregory F.X. Daly and Alderman Beth Murphy, D-13th Ward. She also won the backing of the St. Louis Police Officers Association.
“You always have to run like you’re scared,” Kratky said. “I don’t think anyone’s vote for granted. I’m going out there hustling. I knock on doors every day. And I’m making phone calls everyday. “
The Republican business owner is running unopposed in the GOP primary. Because a lot of GOP voters live in the 16th Ward, the winner of the Democratic primary may have a fight on their hands in April. Nearly 2,500 16th Ward residents voted for Donald Trump, more than any other ward in the city.
The seat is open because Alderman Antonio French is running for mayor. Three Democrats are seeking to replace him.
The ward’s committeewoman, Keys said she has been a behind-the-scenes political player for years, adding “you’d be hard-pressed to name a local politician that I have not worked on their campaign in a volunteer capacity.”
She unsuccessfully ran for alderman in 2005, but never gave up the dream of trying to help people as an elected legislator.
“For senior citizens, their biggest concern is that these are the people that have been the foundation layers. They’ve kept these neighborhoods as good as they are over the decades,” Keys said. “And there seems to be no real assistance for them to be able to maintain and be able to stay in their homes.”
Keys said she wants to make sure city development incentives make their way to north St. Louis neighborhoods.
“You have everything going to two areas of the city: Downtown and the central corridor,” she said. “And the rest of it’s going to hell. And it is wrong. It is unfair. It is inhumane, as far as I’m concerned. Because there’s a lack of human concern.”
She could not be reached for comment by St. Louis Public Radio.
Like Keys, Collins-Muhammad also unsuccessfully tried to become part of the legislative branch, placing second in a four-way Democratic primary for the 77th House District.
Collins-Muhammad said he would bring “new blood,” a “new perspective,” and a “new way to look at things” to the Board of Aldermen.
“We have to have leaders that are capable of actually understanding and comprehending where our people are,” Collins-Muhammad said. “And if don’t understand the issues that people go through, then you really can’t help them. So we just need real solutions for real people.”
Collins-Muhammad said he wants “to make north St. Louis just as appealing as the Central West End,” and to do that, he’d like to “redo the Natural Bridge Corridor.”
“I want to market it for shops, for boutiques and restaurants,” he said. “I just want to make it appealing.”
The ward has been the home base of the politically powerful Carter family for more than 30 years.
The legacy began with the late state Sen. Paula Carter, who died in 2001. Her son, Gregory Carter, was the alderman for 18 years, until his death in 2012.
Her grandson, Chris Carter, now holds the seat but isn’t seeking re-election.
The Democratic contenders are:
Boyd, a dietary manager at a nursing home and the ward’s Democratic committeewoman, said she has the expertise to deal with the ward’s crime problems.
She also believes she’ll be the best to meet with other city officials to address various issues plaguing the ward.
“It’s time for a change,’’ Boyd said.
Keena M. Carter
She’s the aunt of the current alderman and the daughter of Paula Carter. She worked at the St. Louis Election Board for more than a decade, including a stint as deputy Democratic director.
“Right now, the timing is right,’’ she said, adding that her main focus is on reducing crime and getting a stronger police presence.
Ciera L. Simril
Simril, a bank processor, promises to be a community advocate and to seek innovative ways to improve the ward.
Her key issues include combating vacant properties and tackling violent crime, which fits with her position as a member of the city’s new police Civilian Oversight Board.
The ward’s problems are “spiraling out of control,’’ Simril said.
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