FERGUSON, MO (KTVI) – An effort to recall Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III failed in Ferguson Tuesday in what still turned out to be a day that marked the biggest changes in Ferguson since the Mike Brown shooting in August.
The first big change: a new municipal judge to re-establish trust in a city court system which, along with the Ferguson Police Department, was blasted by the U.S. Department of Justice for disproportionately slapping African-Americans with charges and fines for minor offenses.
The city council passed a resolution naming Judge Donald McCullin to the post.
McCullin is a former St. Louis City Circuit Court judge, appointed by former Governor Mel Carnahan.
He said arrest warrants would be a last resort.
“I know appearance in court is never a pleasant experience. But I can promise you that you will be treated fairly and you will be treated with respect,” he said.
Citizens panels led the selection process and made a wise choice, Knowles III said.
The city council also selected a new interim city manager to a 3-6 month term.
Ed Beasley assumed the post after a successful 17 year run in Glendale, Arizona.
He has since come under fire there. An audit has revealed financial irregularities during his tenure.
He said he felt “called” to service in Ferguson; that everything he’d learned in 27 years total of as a city manager led him here.
“That’s the thing that calls me. When I was asked to come, I have 4 kids. My wife…we contemplated. We just thought it’s a calling to not only show the people what you care about, but also the nation,” Beasley said.
Bolstered by news a recall effort had fallen 806 signatures short Tuesday, Knowles III felt very much like part of the team to move Ferguson forward.
Still, he said he’d gotten the message from an effort that still garnered more than 1,000 valid signatures seeking his ouster.
“Even if they’re short, the fact that 1,000 people signed a petition to recall me, does give me an opportunity to say here’s a thousand people, which we know there are many people who are frustrated, angry and feel disaffected, now I have a list to work from. I intend to and hope to able to bridge that gap, starting with those signatures,” Knowles III said.
His term expires in 2017.
He told FOX2 he would seek reelection if the support seemed to be there.
Organizers of the petition effort have another 10 days to get the necessary signatures to force a recall election.
Here’s a breakdown of where they fell short, from the St. Louis County Board of Elections:
2133 Signatures Submitted
1125 Thrown out
Of those thrown out:
562 were not registered voters
366 were not registered in Ferguson
65 left no signature
65 left no address
30 were duplicate signatures
19 were blank
18 signatures did not match the voter registration card