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Challengers Unable To Overcome the Power of Incumbency

March 8, 2019 Board of Aldermen, Featured, Politics/Policy No Comments
St. Louis City Hall

Tuesday’s partisan primary is over, next up the candidates from all the parties will face off in the April 2nd general election. Oh right, the Democratic primary is THE election. Next month a few of us will vote again, for the school board. If St  louis elected nonpartisan officials we could eliminate one of two low-turnout elections held one month apart.

Only three of the 15 seats on Tuesday were open seats, one was vacant and two incumbents decided not to seek an additional term.

18th Ward:

  • Only 17% of registered voters participated in the 5-way race for an open seat.
  • Winner Jesse Todd received 38.84% of the vote.
  • Ald. Terry Kennedy decided not to run again.

24th Ward:

  • 21.2% of those registered voted in the 5-way race.
  • Attorney Bret Narayan won a majority of the votes with 55.54% selecting him.
  • Former Ald. Tom Bauer came in 2nd with 16.6%. Whew, thankful he didn’t win. Two independent candidates have filed to run in April, a good plan in case Bauer had won the Democratic nomination.
  • Ald. Scott Ogilvie didn’t run for re-election.

26th Ward:

  • Twenty percent of registered voters cast ballots in this 3-way race.
  • Shameem Hubbard, wife of Rodney Hubbard, won with only 36.73% of the votes.
  • Ald. Frank Williamson resigned after accepting a job in the Treasurer’s office.

Now for the 12 seats where the incumbent won another term. Note that there were a few incumbents I wanted to see win, more I wanted to lose:

2nd Ward:

  • Lisa Middlebrook was re-elected, turnout was 15.9%

4th Ward:

  • Sam Moore won another term, voter turnout was 14.9%

6th Ward:

  • Christine Ingrassia survived the 4-way race with 44.26%, Debra Carnahan came in 2nd place with 27.84%. Turnout was 25.5%.

8th Ward:

  • Annie Rice was re-elected in the 2-way race with nearly seventky percent of the vote, turnout was relatively high: 28%.

10th Ward:

  • Joe Vollmer easily defeated the challenger, with over sixty percent of the votes. Turnout was 21.8%.

12th Ward:

  • Larry Arnowitz crushed his two challengers with 74.33%. Voter turnout was 21.9%.

14th Ward:

  • Carol Howard will have another term with 52.01% to her challenger’s 47.99%. Turnout was 20.6%.

16th Ward:

  • Thomas Oldenburg was unchallenged, turnout was 21.9%.

20th Ward:

  • Cara Spencer defeated her challenger with 69.55%, voter turnout was 17.6%

22nd Ward:

  • Jeffrey Boyd was re-elected with over sixty percent of the votes, turnout was 16.2%.

28th Ward:

  • Heather Navarro wasn’t challenged, voter turnout was 19%.

Board of Aldermen President:

  • Lewis Reed was re-elected to a fourth term in the 4-way race with only 35.63% of the vote, citywide turnout this election was 17.83%.
  • State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed came in 2nd with 31.6%, Ald. Megan Green 3rd with 31.19%, and Jimmie Mathews a very distant 4th with 1.57%.
  • Over 200 people who voted in the democratic primary didn’t vote in this race.
  • Post-Dispatch: “Lewis Reed won only five of the city’s 28 wards in Tuesday’s Democratic primary race for president of the city’s Board of Aldermen, but those victories came in historically high voting areas, providing enough support for him to prevail in a close battle with two opponents.

    By comparison, state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed won 13 wards, dominating the north side. Alderman Megan Ellyia Green won 10, with a strong showing in the central part of the city including her Tower Grove South neighborhood.

    Despite Nasheed’s and Green’s faring well geographically, it was the turnout in the wards Reed won that made the difference.”

Only two races, with three or more candidates, did the winner get a plurality of the votes cast. Four races the winner didn’t get more than 50%. In many places these races would have a runoff election between the top two. Still, in other places they’d have an instant runoff, also known as Ranked-Choice Voting.

A ranked-choice voting system (RCV) is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority. This system is sometimes referred to as an instant runoff voting system. (Ballotpedia)

This video explains RCV:

The ultimate winner might be the same, or not. It just depends on how voters ranked the candidates after their 1st choice. It eliminates the perception of the third candidate as a spoiler.

RCV would be especially helpful in highly crowded races, like the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.

— Steve Patterson


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