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Incumbent and community leader battle in 8th Ward

SHAW – A businessman and community leader is challenging the incumbent in the battle for the Democratic nomination for alderman in the Eighth Ward.

Incumbent Annie Lee Rice, 33, is vying with Emmett L. Coleman III, 36, in the March 5 primary.

The winner of the primary will not face opposition in the April 2 general election. The salary will be $37,299 a year.

The ward includes all or part of the Shaw, Southwest Garden and the Tower Grove East neighborhoods.

In the order of how they filed, here is information about the candidates:

“I like the job so far, and I want to keep doing it,” said Annie Rice, 33, a Shaw neighborhood resident who was elected in February 2018 to replace Stephen Conway as Eighth Ward Alderman.

Rice, an immigration attorney, was Eighth Ward Democratic Committeewoman when she was elected.

Among her successes, Rice points to a reduction in crime of 30 percent in the ward from the start of 2018 to the start of 2019. She said she would also like to see some of the city’s public safety money used to address the root causes of its crime problems.

“One of the things that’s so great about the Eighth Ward is we have so much going for us,” Rice said. Many of its residents have invested in issues that have affected the rest of the city, she said. “It’s exciting to work within that energy and to work within bigger picture solutions that affect more than just our ward.”

Rice said she opposes privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport and co-sponsored a bill to require a public vote on the issue. That bill died in committee.

She said she hasn’t had a chance to study the report on the proposed city-county merger.

“I think everyone in the region is aware that something has to be done, but I have significant questions about this process,” she said.
On the reduction of the number of wards in the city from 28 to 14, she said it should be free of political manipulation. There possibly should be an independent citizens committee led by a demographer that represents people’s values, she said.

Coleman, her opponent, said “I’ve been an integral part of the improvements that have taken place over the last nine years that I’ve lived here.” Coleman has held such offices as president and vice president of the Shaw Neighborhood Improvement Association and board member of the Shaw Neighborhood Housing Corp. “I care about our neighborhood and our ward,” he said.

Coleman is a real estate agent and the owner of the On Stage Performing Arts Center in Farmington. If elected, he pledges to give half of his salary as an alderman for community purposes.

“My family’s here. I care about the livelihood of my family, as well as myself, my ward and my city,” he said.

Coleman criticized Rice as being poor on constituent services and for not setting goals. But Rice said she has responded to every citizen complaint that came to her.

Coleman said a merger between the city and the county could benefit the entire community economically. But, he said, “We need to find out what the problem systems are and correct them first.”

Coleman also supports a public vote on the possible privatization of the St. Louis Lambert International Airport, but said there is a need to educate people on the issue.

He said the upcoming reduction of the number of wards in the city from 28 to 14 could help make the city more efficient. But it’s important that African Americans and others not be cheated, he said.

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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