Progressives win key St. Louis aldermanic races, securing agenda

First Ward legend Alderwoman Sharon Tyus leads the progressive swing as she is reelected in her ward as part of the slashed aldermanic race.

Sharon Tyus

Progressive Democrats looking to tighten their grip on the Board of Aldermen this spring mostly delivered Tuesday.

Just before 10 p.m., results showed candidates backed by Mayor Tishaura O. Jones and Aldermanic President Megan Green winning in all but one battleground race.

The progressive candidates held off stiff challenges from moderate challengers in far south city and on the near North Side. They also toppled one of the progressives’ most vocal critics at the board in Alderman Joe Vaccaro. And they likely gave leaders a working majority on the new, 15-member board as they continue pushing policy aimed at fighting crime with social services, tackling racial inequities and lifting up the poor.

Proposition C, which proposes the creation of a commission to recommend changes to the city charter, also passed with 60% of the vote.

“It was a good night,” said Green, who ran unopposed Tuesday. “The future of the city is progressive.”

Here’s how it went down:

4th Ward

Alderman Bret Narayan, of Dogtown, scored perhaps the biggest victory Tuesday.

He defeated Vaccaro, the progressive nemesis from Lindenwood Park, 54.6%-45.1%, overturning a narrow loss in the March primary.

The result ended Vaccaro’s tenure on the board at 14 years, the last few of which he spent opposing progressive efforts to divert money from the police department to social workers, close the city’s old Workhouse jail on the far north side and send more infrastructure money to the North Side at the expense of his area.

It also lends credence to the idea that today’s voters want aldermen to do more than their traditional functions of fielding neighborhood complaints about potholes and trash and nagging city bureaucrats to fix them. Vaccaro made his campaign all about those things, boasting of answering phone calls at 1 a.m. and picking up trash in his own truck when the city wouldn’t.

But Narayan, who Green endorsed, said modern aldermen should focus less on putting out fires and more on making citywide policy. He talked about his work legislating repeal of penalties for marijuana possession and plans for lead and asbestos remediation. And he said the city also needed legislation to make it easier for the city to hire workers and shore up city services.

“We don’t want a dumpster czar,” he memorably told voters at one forum. “We want someone who’s going to carry St. Louis into the 21st century.”

1st Ward

Progressives also held on in far south city, where current 13th Ward Alderman Anne Schweitzer, of Boulevard Heights, defeated Tony Kirchner, a city sheriff’s deputy from Bevo Mill, by 4.5 percentage points.

Endorsed by the St. Louis Police Officers Association and moderate aldermen, Kirchner entered the race looking to reverse recent progressive gains in an area with a history of old-school, conservative politics. He cast his opponent and her progressive allies as too busy working on reparations and north St. Louis to pick up the trash, trim trees, pave streets and fight crime. And he said he was the antidote: a no-nonsense, law-and-order candidate with the know-how needed to repair a shrunken police department, combat a growing sense of lawlessness and get the train back on the tracks.

But Schweitzer, a public relations consultant, blended her support for studying reparations and revitalizing north St. Louis with promises to do just as much work on the basics in her own ward.

Read more


On Key

Related Posts