South Side’s only new alderman celebrates his swearing-in day

DOWNTOWN – From now on, meeting days for new 24th Ward alderman Bret Narayan will be work, work, work. But his swearing-in meeting was a time to celebrate with family, friends and the supporters who got him elected.

Narayan and the other officials elected in the April 2 general election were officially sworn in around 9:45 a.m. on April 16 in a crowded room next to the Board of Aldermen’s chambers. Fifteen minutes later, the first meeting of the board’s 2019-20 session started in those chambers, and the officials went through another ceremonial swearing in for the cameras.

Narayan relished being one of those who raised his hand in the swearing-in. “I’m going to look at anything I can do to make this city a better place to live, work and play,” said Narayan, who was at the meeting with his girlfriend Ann Glaser and various family members and friends.

Besides Narayan, two new aldermen from the North Side were sworn in, along with 11 re-elected incumbents and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed. In the 18th Ward, Jesse Todd replaced longtime alderman Terry Kennedy, who is now Board of Aldermen clerk. And in the 26th Ward, Shameem Hubbard replaced Frank Williamson.

With the addition of Hubbard, the board now is evenly split between 14 men and 14 women for the first time in history.

Narayan, an attorney and community leader who lives in the Clayton-Tamm neighborhood, said he started thinking about running after former alderman Scott Ogilvie decided not to run.

“When Scott decided he was not going to run for re-election, he said, ‘Maybe you should consider this. I considered it and thought, ‘Why don’t we ramp up what we’re doing in the neighborhood to the whole ward?’”

Narayan easily won the Democratic primary on March 5. “I think it’s always surprising in a five-way primary race to walk away with more than half of the vote. I was very grateful to the Democratic Party of the 24th Ward. They paid attention to the issues, and we had a nice friendly, clean race, and on election day, it worked out well,” he said.

Joining Narayan in raising his hands was Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed, who was sworn in for the fourth time. Reed offered thoughts for the board in a short speech during the April 16 meeting.

“When you leave this meeting, you have to get to work now,” Reed said, noting all the decisions they’ll soon have to make. He said they’ll have to rely on their moral compass when they make those decisions.

Reed said it’s all right to challenge ideas but not to criticize people.

“We have some very difficult days ahead,” he said. Aldermen will have to make numerous decisions on matters like city-county merger, airport privatization and reduction in the number of wards, he said.

“This board is going to be the board that they write down in history that took on the Delmar Divide, that has taken on some of those many challenges all across our community,” 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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