The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will look quite different when the new session begins in two weeks.
Three of the four candidates who received the backing of an initiative called Flip The Board won their races Tuesday, giving progressive-minded aldermen a working if fragile majority at City Hall.
Anne Schweitzer defeated Beth Murphy to represent the 13th Ward — Murphy was first sworn in in 2014. In the 12th Ward, Bill Stephens narrowly beat Vicky Grass, who was sworn in in July to fill the remainder of Larry Arnowitz’s term. And in the 17th Ward, Tina Pihl beat Michelle Sherod for an open seat by just 19 votes.
Stephens said the election results show that people are ready for change.
“I think it says we’re all of us for fresh ideas and for a fresh breath of air, and furthermore we’re courageous enough to give space for fresh breath and new faces and young blood,” he said.
Grass said that she was surprised by the results, but that she wishes Stephens the best.
In a message to her constituents she said: “Give him a chance. It’s a hard job.”
In the 7th Ward, Jack Coatar, who has served as alderman since 2015, held on to his seat against a newcomer to politics, Shedrick Kelly, by 122 votes. Coatar could not immediately be reached for comment.
Kelly said he’s amazed to see wins by other members of the Flip The Board initiative, and he’s proud of how far his campaign came.
“I mean me coming that close shows a lot of people were actually interested in change, they really wanted something different, and it just wasn’t quite enough,” he said.
Another candidate, James Page, who was not officially part of the effort but had the support of many local progressives, defeated Tammika Hubbard to represent the 5th Ward. Hubbard, who had been in office since 2012, had long been a target of more liberal members of the party.
Page said residents of the 5th Ward told him they’re ready for a change.
“They were not happy with the representation they had received over the last 10 years or so,” he said. “I stepped in to fulfill that role as a change agent.”
Page said he plans to be more accountable to constituents and build coalitions within the ward.
Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward, who spearheaded Flip The Board, said the campaign was successful because it gave St. Louis voters across the city a clear idea of which candidates supported progressive ideas.
She said the results will shift the balance of power on the Board of Aldermen.
“Progressives have been in a place for the last four years, in particular, where we have been sort of banished to committees that don’t meet very often and have not had a whole lot of power,” she said.
Green said now progressives have a firm voting bloc to help support Mayor-elect Tishaura Jones’ agenda too.
Alderwomen Hubbard and Murphy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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