ACADEMY—The vacated seat of former 26th Ward Alderman Frank Williamson has three candidates left vying for the position on the Board of Aldermen after one dropped out last month.
The three remaining candidates are Leata Price-Land, Shameem Clark Hubbard, and Jake Banton. Justin Idleburg withdrew on January 11, according to the St. Louis Board of Elections.
The winner of the March 5 primary election will not face any opposition in the April 2 general election. The salary of an alderman is $37,299 a year.
Leata Price-Land, a high school communications director and an owner of event planning company, The Platinum Group, has lived in the ward more than 30 years. She says it is her experience and credentials that make her the best choice for voters.
Price-Land ran off a long list of elected officials she says have endorsed her, including: State Senator Karla May (who is also committeewoman of the ward); Committeeman Joe Palm; Comptroller Darlene Green; President of the Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed; License Collector Mavis “Tessa” Thompson; Sheriff Vernon Betts; Recorder of Deeds Michael Butler; former Mayor Freeman Bosley; former State Representative Hope Whitehead; and, of course, her son, the recently-elected state representative from the 84th District, Wiley “Chip” Price.
While she has garnered plenty of endorsements, Price-Land offered said she’s counting on her extensive experience to help her win.
“I feel like I am experienced and the most experienced candidate,” said Price-Land, who said she has a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Studies from Fontbonne University.
Her experience consists of: former commissioner of the St. Louis Plan Industrial Authority; former member of the Deaconess Foundation board of directors; former St. Louis Alexis Hospital board member; and a current commissioner on the Missouri Board of Cosmetology and Barbering; and a Forest Park Forever advisory board member.
If elected, Price-Land said she’ll focus on bringing retail and other development to the ward. She said she would also work to reduce crime, and try to help young people get jobs to keep them out of trouble.
Jake Banton, an architect and planner with a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Kansas, is new to the ward. He’s only lived there for a year and a half, but he believes his experience with buildings and relationships with developers gives him an edge in a ward experiencing a development boon.
“With the Loop development and housing projects popping up here, I think it’s important that we have a leader to see it through,” Banton said, adding that he would make sure that residents stay in the know about commercial and residential development.
Along with inclusive community development, Banton said he would advocate for better city services and equitable public safety. He also says the city needs to focus on incentivizing developers to build in north St. Louis the way they do in south St. Louis.
“We need a comprehensive economic development plan in the entire city,” he said. “And I want the city to reform how it does incentives.”
Regarding public safety, he said he would like to see continued expansion of cameras at dumpsters and at intersections to curb crime. He said he would also fight to see that organizations like Better Family Life get the funding it needs to expand its de-escalation centers, which he said has shown good results in preventing crime before the police have to get involved.
As for policing, he said would like to see more of a community-policing model so that law enforcement and the community could feel comfortable talking about issues. He also thinks that residents should be able call 911 and the police as many times as necessary without being penalized and ending up on the nuisance property list.
“It shouldn’t be that way; it’s critical that we build trust,” he said.
Banton said would also look into the city upgrading its information technology infrastructure so residents can be better served.
“I think the city has fallen behind in how it uses data to improve services.” He also said that aldermen should be able to be contacted through email and social media and reply quickly.
He pledged to also appear at neighborhood and block unit meetings in the ward.
“They should expect me to show up, and make sure they have access, and are equally taken care of,” he said.
Shameem Clark Hubbard is also running. She did not return calls requesting to be interviewed for this story.