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Readers: Keep Cut From 28 To 14 Aldermen

November 20, 2019 Board of Aldermen, Featured, Politics/Policy No Comments
Sausage getting made in the Board of Aldermen’s chambers

Unsurprisingly, the majority of those who voted in the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll prefer to keep the planned cut from 28 to 14 Aldermen.

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis voters should vote to keep the Board of Aldermen at 28, rather than be reduced to 14 by 2022.

  • Strongly agree: 1 [2.94%]
  • Agree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [2.94%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [2.94%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 1 [2.94%]
  • Disagree: 5 [14.71%]
  • Strongly disagree:25 [73.53%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

While I agree with the majority, I also think we need safeguards to make sure the establishment doesn’t end up controlling all 14 seats. We need to do something to make sure the members represent all of St. Louis — not just whites, or blacks. St. Louis is more ethnically diverse than just black & white. Do what?

Look at the process for drawing ward boundaries. Will it be fair or will the lines be drawn in such a way as to make it harder for racial minorities to get elected?

Before the 1914 charter was adopted St. Louis had two legislative bodies — a Council and a House of Delegates. The Council had 12 members, plus a president. The House of Delegates had 28.

The 1880 & 1910 census had St. Louis’ population at 350,518 & 687,029, respectively. So population was increasing rapidly, but they cut back on the total number of legislators from 40 to 28.

The freeholders at the time were looking ahead 10-50 years, not more than 100 years. Given our population, reducing to 14 makes sense — as long as we make sure the new 14-member Board of Aldermen looks as diverse as our population.

— Steve Patterson


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