BRIDGETON, Mo. — City officials in Bridgeton received a surprise phone call from another state, which answered questions about a mysterious alderman.
It’s in Ward 2 in Bridgeton, Missouri, an area near the controversial landfill. People are just finding out that one of their aldermen doesn’t even live in the state.
Andrew Purcell, who still appears in a pre-printed 2022 Bridgeton calendar, became a ghost last November.
Mayor Terry Briggs stood by Purcell’s seemingly abandoned locker as he talked about solving a political mystery in his city. Briggs said he hasn’t seen Purcell in person in about six months.
“He’d say, ‘I’m sick’ or ‘I’m not feeling well tonight,'” said Briggs. “OK, and then one time he said, ‘I’ve got to go to a wake tonight.'”
Everything changed with a phone call from Illinois. Briggs said it came “from a reporter in Williamson County IL that said, ‘Hey, we have an individual here who filed for office here.”
Bridgeton then pulled Purcell’s voter registration card. It showed Purcell registered to vote last November in Carterville, Illinois, about 140 miles away.
The mayor didn’t pull any punches during an interview with FOX 2 saying, “I’m thinking this guy cheated us.”
“It leaves a bad taste in your mouth and people are already somewhat skeptical of government,” he continued. “What does this do for that?”
FOX 2 asked residents.
“We need representation,” said Robbin Dailey. “We’ve got a burning radioactive landfill that’s a mile and a half from this neighborhood. We are on edge. If you can’t do the job, by God, quit drawing the money, give it to somebody else who can. Bow out, like a respectable person, and let somebody else do the job for you.”
Instead, the mayor said Purcell said nothing, and since this was just uncovered, no one else had filed to run for Ward 2 Alderman. So, the April 6 election was based entirely on write-in votes. Becky Patel is now taking over, sworn in Wednesday after getting elected with 72 write-in votes.
Purcell got one vote. Briggs said, “We wonder if it was not himself who came back and voted.”
The council voted to censure Purcell, so it’s on his permanent political record. The investigation continues because Bridgeton paid Purcell $500 a month to be Alderman.
“Since he was collecting a salary for the city, which he was not eligible to in our view,” Briggs said. “Is that then a misappropriation of public funds? Is that like stealing?”
Briggs said the city has referred the case for possible criminal prosecution and that the approximate $2,500 in salary over the period of time Purcell may not have been in Bridgeton, could raise it to a felony offense.