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Candidates face public in 26th Ward

Alderman Frank Williamson is handing over the 26th Ward after almost 16 years of service. The ward features one of the most economically diverse lengths of Delmar boulevard that stretch south from Sherman Park to about a block from Forest Park. Home prices closer to Lindell Boulevard can fetch $400,000 and higher, while the opposite side has homes — mostly abandoned — in the $20,000 range..

Shameem Clark Hubbard, Jacob Banton, and Leata C. Price-Land are on the Democratic ballot this coming March. On Friday, February 22nd, the three candidates met with the public to introduce themselves to the residents and provide a deeper understanding of their backgrounds and initiatives.

Shameem Hubbard explained the hard realities of the ward’s political landscape, “We are a very diverse ward, on one end we’re thinking about the Better Together plan and airport privation, and on the other end they are thinking about how they are going to feed their children.”

If the name Hubbard sounds familiar, it’s because her sister Tammika Hubbard is the 5th Ward alderwoman, and the family has held positions throughout the city. Shameem was born in the ward and owned a hair salon in the area for 13 years. Much like her sister, Hubbard has experience in politics as she served a full term as Democratic committeewoman of the 26th Ward. Hubbard believes community engagement is crucial and truly thinks her residents having a voice is important for growth. “Engaging everyone from our babies to our seniors, listening to everybody’s voice and working together moving forward,” said Hubbard.

Jacob Banton, a city transplant original from the county, has ties to the ward. His grandparents met while working at the Homer G Phillips hospital, and moved to the area after getting married. Last year, Banton and family wanted to put roots in the 26th Ward like his grandparents did and call the area his long-term home. So he purchased a house there. He hopes his degree in architecture and background in construction can help solve the street problems but knows there are larger issues at hand. “This is an area that is dealing with big-picture issues that really can be applied across the city. [We’re] dealing with neighborhood safety, the Delmar divide, racial equities, housing.”

Banton describes his dreams of the 26th Ward becoming an inspiration,, a “House on the Hill” example of what could and should be done to breathe life back into the ward. “I think what I’m most passionate about is making sure the 26th Ward and anyone choosing to live here has a great quality of life.” Banton cities improving transportation issues and maintaining parks as key things that can be upgrade life for those in the area.

Leata C. Price-Land was born in St. Louis and has strong connections throughout the city. Despite leaving the area for 10 years in her teens, she returned and has stayed put for the last 30 years. Price-Land believes her degree in organizational studies, duties as a Forest Park Advisory Board member, and Communications Assistant position at Riverview Gardens School District make her the well-rounded candidate that the 26th Ward deserves.

Price-Land hopes to bring in retail stores and encourage local shopping to keep the money in the ward. “I’m really passionate about making sure that we don’t just have to shop at the doggone Family Dollar and gas station,” Price-Land said on the 22nd.

While residents were vocal about the growing public safety issues in the city as a whole, all candidates said they would address the problems if elected. Price-Land mentioned the old method of using block captains to help with crime prevention. Her stepmother, who has lived in the 26th Ward for years, believes this idea can improve neighborhood safety. Price-Land urged the community to come together as one and help take care of each other.

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