Monday, February 03, 2003

And now, it's Part One of Joe Frank's unofficial Voters' Guide for the City of St. Louis Board of Aldermen March 4th 2003 primaries.

There are officially three primaries - Democrat, Republican, and Green - but as usual in the City of St. Louis, it is only in the Democratic races that there's any competition.

But a word about the Green Party: This is the first time there has been a Green Party primary in the City of St. Louis. Since License Collector candidate Jason Murphy won a respectable 15.3% of the vote against the incumbent, Slay-allied Gregory Francis Xavier Daly, the Greens now get to automatically run candidates for City offices.

Very cool.

Now for the rundown of races by party, by ward:


President of the Board of Aldermen. Jim Shrewsbury is unopposed. A fiscally conservative, pro-Life Democrat from Southwest City's St. Louis Hills neighborhood, Jim was named acting President when Francis G. Slay was elected Mayor in April 2001.

In August 2002, he won the special election Democratic primary against 28th Ward Alderwoman Lyda Krewson, who got several progressive organization endorsements. Slay mostly stayed out of this race. Slay attended both election night parties - Krewson's at Humphrey's bar on Laclede near St. Louis University, and Shrewsbury's at the decidedly austere Council Plaza just around the corner on Grand and Highway 40.

Shrewsbury received support from groups both in his South St. Louis power base, and in North St. Louis. Krewson was strongest in the central corridor, but also garnered support from the 14th Ward in the Southampton neighborhood.

A note about my own connections to Jim Shrewsbury: Starting in 1997, I tutored Jim in basic computer skills, and worked on maintaining his campaign contributions database. I even house-sat for him a few times. He's been very good to me, in other words.

So naturally I supported him - not by volunteering, because as a City employee I have to be careful about such activities. But I did give money, and have a yard sign. I don't regret it.

Also the involvement of spouses in the Krewson-Shrewsbury campaign was interesting. Lyda Krewson is married to KSDK-TV Channel 5 reporter Mike Owens, a controversial figure at City Hall. His face was deliberately not shown on Channel 5's coverage of the election night party at Humphrey's.

Jim, in his victory speech, acknowledged the importance of two great women to his campaign -- Pam Ross, his longtime campaign treasurer and now a special assistant in his office; and his wife Dr. Mary Michael Shrewsbury, who has campaigned with him for years during his days as 16th Ward alderman and two attempts at the Comptroller's office.

Mary Michael formerly worked in the desegregation monitoring office of St. Louis Public Schools, and is now instructional coordinator (a sort of assistant principal - type position) at Sumner "Mega Magnet" High School in the Ville neighborhood of North St. Louis.

In any event, Krewson and any other Democratic challengers have been put off effectively by Jim Shrewsbury's solid 55% to 45% win in August, and he breezed through the November general election unopposed. This March, he is again unopposed, although there will be a Green party candidate in the April general election (more on him in a while).

Alderman Ward 2 - First-term incumbent Dionne Flowers is opposed by neighborhood activist Mattie Moore, in a re-match of the very close 1999 election (I can't find the results, but it was close I know). Alderwoman Flowers is the daughter of Eddie Flowers, 2nd Ward Democratic committeeman, and sometimes described as one of the last remnants of the Milt Svetanics organization.

Milton Svetanics, who passed away a couple years ago, was the last white alderman from the 27th Ward, which is adjacent to the 2nd Ward. Nancy Weber was the last white alderman of the 2nd Ward, until she decided to retire in 1999, even though after the 1991 redistricting it was a solidly African-American ward.

These farthest reaches of North City, centered on Baden but also including part of North Pointe and the narrow Riverview strip extending up to I-270, were still heavily white well into the 1970s. Certainly by 1990, that had changed.

This doesn't necessarily mean the area declined - indeed the North Pointe neighborhood, now mostly in Greg Carter's 27th Ward, is one of the most desirable among African-American City employees like firefighters and police officers. Baden, being much older, has more difficulties, but also has many committed residents. These neighborhoods share much of their fate with nearby communities in St. Louis County like Jennings and Bellefontaine Neighbors.

The 2nd Ward also includes a large portion of the North Riverfront business corridor area, which the City has targeted for redevelopment of many vacant properties and support for expansion of existing businesses. Many trucking companies and salvage yards are located there, as well as some manufacturing businesses and the City's Medium Security Institution (MSI), better known as the Workhouse. And although easy to forget, Ward 2 includes a portion of the College Hill neighborhood as well.

That north riverfront area includes one particularly controversial business - the Stericycle medical waste incinerator. This incinerator serves several major hospitals in St. Louis, and many nearby residents are concerned about potential health effects. Mattie Moore was a leader in the effort to bring these issues to public scrutiny; Dionne Flowers eventually came on board, taking much of the credit as well. No doubt this is a prominent issue in the race.

Alderman Ward 4 - The surprise of this race is that Sharon Tyus is not in it. Instead, one-term incumbent Peggy Ryan faces two opponents in this ward that covers basically the Ville and Greater Ville neighborhoods, an area with massive need for development and many vacant lots. I don't know much about the opponents - Cynthia L. Banks, and Edward Mc Fowland - but I think Ms. Banks may be related to former State Senator JB "Jet" Banks. If that's the case, she certainly has the edge in this race.

Alderman Ward 6 - Incumbent Lewis Reed, first elected in 1999, is unopposed. Until redistricting he was the only central corridor African-American alderman, and indeed his ward now reaches deep into near South St. Louis, taking in more than half the Tower Grove East neighborhood. Now Michael McMillan's Ward 19 stretches almost as far south, just dipping into the Shaw neighborhood.

McMillan's power base is decidedly the northern Midtown and JeffVanderLou areas - although he has connections citywide, and will likely be elected to a higher office before much longer. He is young, ambitious, well-funded, and well-connected, and has lots of development happening in his ward, whether it's new houses north of Delmar, redevelopment of the Blumeyer public housing, the new Cardinal Ritter High School, Pulitzer Center for the Arts, and Contemporary Art Museum in Grand Center, or the latest construction project at St. Louis University, Mike McMillan is a frequent guest at groundbreaking ceremonies.

But he's not up for re-election until 2005.

Now back to Reed - since he is the only African-American alderman residing south of Chouteau (he lives in Lafayette Square), he doesn't really fit into the African-American political establishment. Like former mayor Clarence Harmon, his wife is white. Indeed, Lewis Reed was one of Harmon's last allies, when everyone else by the 2001 election had lined up racially with either Slay or Bosley Jr.

Reed apparently is pretty popular in his sprawling, central city ward, at least among those who come out to vote. So he is unopposed.

To be continued....

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