Updated at 5:48PM on March 7, 2018 with video interview with Alderman Bosley.
Some opponents of the Better Together campaign to merge the city and the county this week announced the start of a petition drive to put the recall of Mayor Lyda Krewson on the St. Louis ballot.
Ward 3 Alderman Brandon Bosley and Ward 21 Alderman John Collins-Muhammad said the new Citizens to Protect St. Louis would seek signatures throughout the city.
“The most important thing about this is you want to dissolve the city of St. Louis and not involve the city of St. Louis,” Bosley said.
“This is a plan that has been developed in the dark and behind closed doors without inclusive engagement and input from our respective constituents,” Collins-Muhammad said in a statement. “To not be included in the planning of anything that will drastically affect the people we [as elected officials] are sworn to represent and protect, is a definitive insult. The mayor has hid this from us. The county executive has hid this from you,” he continued.
The mayor has been a strong supporter of the Better Together merger drive. A push is on to collect enough signatures to put the Better Together plan on the statewide ballot in November 2020. Victory for the plan would start a two-year period in which County Executive Steve Stenger, would serve as metro mayor, and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson would be the last St. Louis City mayor.
According to the St. Louis City Charter, backers of a recall effort of a mayor must collect signatures totaling at least 20 percent of the registered voters in the last mayoral election. That is 39,374, said Gary Stoff, Republican director of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners.
The charter calls for a recall election within 30 to 90 days of approval of the signatures. Any signature on a petition can’t be collected earlier than 120 days before it’s turned in to the election board.
One requirement makes it essential that any recall be a citywide effort. That is that backers must collect signatures totaling 20 percent of the registered vote in the last mayoral election in 2/3s of all wards.
Collins-Muhammad and Bosley promised they’d have that citywide support. “We already have an action plan enacted,” Bosley said.
Collins-Muhammad said the Better Together merger would hurt African- Americans. “This will drastically decrease and dilute African-American leadership,” he said.
In a statement, the mayor said she understands the opposition from some, but she defended the need for change.
“I understand that change is hard. There are many vested interests in preserving the status quo of a region that is not growing,” said Krewson. “The fragmented government we have today is not working. We are losing population, jobs, and opportunities to other cities.”
“We are losing ground every day because we spend our time fussing among ourselves. The real competition is between St. Louis and Nashville, St. Louis and Louisville, St. Louis and Indianapolis, or Kansas City, or Austin, or Denver. This recall effort is more internal fussing, but I get it. Self preservation is a strong instinct,” the mayor said.
“It has been important for me to ask myself how I best serve the people I represent. My goal is to do all that is possible to keep people safe and create economic opportunities for all. My support for consolidation is rooted in that desire to provide safety and economic opportunity to all St. Louisans,” said Krewson.