ST. LOUIS — There are new calls for a “clean sweep” of the St. Louis city government in the wake of the aldermanic bribery scandal. 

Next spring, the number of aldermen and the number of wards in St. Louis will shrink from 28 to 14. The entire ward remapping process just approved in December is now being called into question because of something revealed in the federal indictments of two former aldermen and former Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed.    

Reed led the process of drawing the boundaries of the city’s new 14 ward map. He is quoted touting the new map as a source of his growing power on page 31 of the 66 pages of indictments, saying, “Of the 14 seats… we need to control 10 (for a veto-proof majority) … if we do that, we control the city.”  

There are aldermen who now question the legitimacy of those new wards and the new board that will represent them.

“I think that is really concerning,” said 15th Ward Alderwoman Megan Green. “Next year, we are reducing the board from 28 wards to 14 wards. We have to ensure that process was carried out in a way that was really in the best interest of the city. After reading that indictment, I’m not so sure.”     

Members of the current 28-member board (3 seats are vacant) have plans to run for all or nearly of the 14 seats that will remain.  However, 12th Ward Alderman Bill Stephens will not seek election as he is running for Missouri State Representative.

“I firmly believe that with the redistricting upcoming in 2023 going from 28 wards to 14 that the City of St. Louis deserves and now needs a Board of Aldermen who are wholly new to the position (and) that includes myself, ” said 12th Ward Alderman, Bill Stephens.  “The City of St. Louis received 66 pages of reasons why they shouldn’t trust the Board of Aldermen.”

The St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners is now scrambling to arrange a series of special elections to fill seats left vacant by the resignations of Reed plus former Aldermen Jeffrey Boyd and John Collins-Muhammad.  All were indicted last week for allegedly taking bribes in exchange for political favors. This may not be the end of the scandal according to St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones.   

“I think there are more federal indictments to come. I don’t know that, but I think this is the tip of the iceberg,” she said.  “We should continue the work of the City of St. Louis. We have an interim president Joe Vollmer. He’s been on the board for many, many, years.”

Vollmer told FOX 2 that the new ward map should stand regardless of the scandal, pointing out that no aldermen voted against it when it was approved in December.   

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