St. Louis set to hold first primaries for downsized Board of Aldermen on March 7

The city of St. Louis, Missouri, is holding general elections for the Board of Aldermen on Apr. 4, 2023. All 14 seats on the board and the seat of the president of the board are up for election. A primary is scheduled for March 7, 2023. The filing deadline was Jan. 6, 2023.

The Board of Aldermen is the city’s primary legislative body. It is responsible for adopting the city budget, levying taxes, and making or amending city laws, policies, and ordinances. The President of the Board is responsible for presiding over board meetings.

The 2023 election will be the first to take place under a new ward system that reduced the number of seats on the board from 28 to 14. The reduction in board size was part of Proposition R, a charter amendment passed by voters in 2012 that took effect on Jan. 1, 2022. 

In accordance with Proposition R, the board passed new ward maps in 2021. Candidates elected in odd-numbered wards in 2023 will serve an initial two-year term and be eligible to run for four-year terms after that. Candidates elected in even-numbered wards will serve four-year terms. The president of the Board of Aldermen, a separate position elected at large, will also serve a four-year term. 

Voters approved another initiative affecting the 2023 election, Proposition D, in 2020. The measure made elections open and non-partisan for the offices of mayor, comptroller, president of the Board of Aldermen, and the Board of Aldermen. The measure also changed the primary election system from plurality voting to approval voting, a voting system in which voters may vote for any number of candidates they choose. In St. Louis, the top two candidates in the primary will advance to the general election on Apr. 4. 

As a result of the reduction in the size of the board, four wards have multiple incumbents running against each other this year: 

  • In the 4th ward, incumbents Joe Vaccaro (currently representing Ward 23) and Bret Narayan (Ward 24) are running against each other. Professional photographer Casey Otto is also running. 
  • In the 9th ward, incumbents Tina Pihl (Ward 17) and Michael Gras (Ward 28) are running. Michael Browning, a Washington University School of Medicine staffer, is also running. 
  • In the 13th ward, three incumbents—Lisa Middlebrook (Ward 2), Norma Walker (Ward 22), and Pamela Boyd (Ward 27)—are running against each other.
  • In the 14th ward, incumbents James Page (Ward 5) and Brandon Bosley (Ward 3) are running. State Representative Rasheen Aldridge and real estate agent Ebony Washington also filed to run.

Two wards—Ward 6 and Ward 7— are open, meaning no incumbents are running. In Ward 6, former alderwoman Jennifer Florida is facing public relations consultant Daniela Velazquez. In Ward 7—the only ward where no current or former board member filed to run—three candidates are running: St. Louis Board of Education member Alisha Sonnier, musician Cedric Redmon, and J.P. Mitchom, the director of Equity and Inclusion at St. Louis Priory School. 

Ten current members of the board are not seeking re-election.

President of the Board Megan Ellyia Green is running for re-election unopposed. Green was first elected in a November 2022 special election to fill the seat of former board president Lewis E. Reed, who resigned after being indicted on bribery charges. 

The city of St. Louis is also holding a general election for a seat on the community college board on Apr. 4, 2023. 23. Incumbent Pam Ross and Nicole Robinson are running. The filing deadline for that election was Dec. 27, 2022.