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Howard being challenged by labor activist in 14th Ward

BEVO MILL – A retired city educator and eight-year veteran of the Board of Alderman is vying with a labor activist for the 14th Ward seat on the board. Both have extensive experience in Democratic politics.

Alderwoman Carol Howard, 69, is running against Tony Pecinovsky, 41, in the Democratic primary on March 5. The winner of the primary will not face opposition in the April 2 general election. The new alderperson will receive a salary of $37,299.

Pecinovsky said a key issue that inspired him to try to unseat Howard was Howard’s vote against a bill to raise the city’s minimum wage. “It’s one thing to vote yes when it’s easy and convenient. It’s an entirely different thing to lead, and we need leaders in City Hall,” he said.

Howard said she favored an increase in the minimum wage, but only if the whole state does it.

Howard said people should vote for her because of her education, her experience as an alderwoman and a public servant, and her familiarity with the 14th Ward.

In the order they appear on the ballot, here is information about the two candidates.

Howard, who lives in the Bevo Mill neighborhood, replaced Stephen Gregali as alderwoman in 2010. She has been active in 14th Ward Democratic politics since the 1980s and became its committeewoman in the 1990s. She worked in the presidential campaign of former 14th Ward Alderman (and later Democratic House Majority Leader) Richard Gephardt. 

Among the big issues Howard sees in the ward are bringing property up to code and making sure it’s clear who owns property after the owner dies. 

Howard said that the former Shop ‘n Save at 4660 Chippewa Street is outdated and too big for its original purpose. “I think we will have a developer in time. It may not be a grocery, but we don’t know,” she said. 

“Some of the big issues of the ward, I guess right now is finding development,” she said. “We’re getting people in, but we’re an aging population,” she said. 

On tax incentives like tax increment financing and tax abatement, Howard said that if incentives weren’t offered, there wouldn’t be attractions like the Grove district, which bring in taxes. If properties don’t bring in taxes, it would be foolish not to offer incentives, she said.

Howard grew up in Tower Grove Heights, attended city schools and was a teacher, administrator and middle school principal in St. Louis Public Schools.  

She holds an undergraduate degree from Harris Stowe Teachers College, a master’s in educational administration from the University of Missouri-St. Louis; a master’s in arts from Webster University; and a doctorate from Maryville University in Educational Administration.

Pecinovsky has been an activist ever since he campaigned against planned raises in tuition as a writer for the campus newspaper at Forest Park Community College, now St. Louis Community College – Forest Park. The Bevo Mill resident runs the St. Louis Workers’ Education Society and is the son and grandson of United Auto Workers members who worked at the old Chrysler plant in Fenton.

His associations include the Communist Party USA and include articles he’s written for its web site such as “St. Louis CPUSA on the Move!” “Trump Sparks Communist Growth Surge,” and “Communist Party and African American Equality – A Focus Unequaled in U.S. History.” He also writes for the Communist Party publication People’s World.

Pecinovsky said he’s not trying to hide his political affiliations, but is a member of a number of different political organizations. He said he’s written for dozens of publications, including People’s World, the St. Louis Labor Tribune, Alternet and Z Magazine. 

Pecinovsky said he believes there has been too much focus on his political affiliations and not enough focus on Howard’s vote against the minimum wage.

Pecinovsky said it’s important for an alderman to be accessible. He also stressed accountability, but not loyalty to lobbyists and big donors. It’s also important that an alderperson work hard and not do the minimum, he said. 

On tax incentives like tax increment financing, he said it’s important that each proposal be judged according to its own merits and that the community have the opportunity to comment.

On the subject of a possible city-county merger, Pecinovsky said he understands the need to eliminate redundancies in government. But he doesn’t favor a statewide vote, especially when the majority of St. Louis residents are black.

Jim Merkel Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit

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  1. I would like to know what union Tony belongs to? What is Tony’s job history? How long has he lived in the community that he wants to represent?

  2. Alderman Howard is very accessible and one of the hardest working elected officials I’ve ever seen. She also has a deep understanding of how things actually work, rather than some pie-in-the-sky ideas of utopia held by Mr. Pecinovsky.

    For instance, the proposed City-County merger would require an amendment to the MO Constitution, and thus would have to be voted on by the entire state. If Mr. Pecinovsky is unable to grasp that, I shudder at the thought of him trying to help govern.

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