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Freeholders start meeting on Tuesday, with no city members

CITY HALL – The new Freeholders Board for the city and county meets for the first time Tuesday in the Board of Aldermen’s chambers at City Hall, but without any representation from St. Louis.

With a quorum of nine members from St. Louis County and one member appointed by the governor, the Freeholders Board will be able to hold its first session starting at 2 p.m. But without nine members from St. Louis, the new board won’t be able to make much progress toward its appointed goal of discussing the joint future of the city and county, potentially including a merger.

The Board of Aldermen’s Intergovernmental Affairs Committee is convinced that Mayor Lyda Krewson’s list of nine potential freeholders doesn’t include enough representation from the north side. So the committee has tabled her slate. 

Meanwhile, Jacob Long, Krewson’s director of communications, indicated on Friday that the mayor was sticking with her appointees. 

“The [Missouri] Constitution requires the mayor to nominate nine individuals,” Long told reporters after Friday’s Board of Aldermen meeting. “We believe that we’ve fulfilled our obligation under the law in an open, honest, transparent manner, considering feedback from the community, considering feedback from the Board of Aldermen.”

Long said about the appointees, “They are a talented group of nine individuals, racially diverse, geographically diverse.”

“The law requires the Board of Aldermen to act,” he added.

Speaking to aldermen at the end of their meeting on Friday, Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed encouraged both sides to work together so the issues can be resolved quickly. That way, the issues might be resolved at the Nov. 15 meeting.

“It’s important that we address these issues through this process,” Reed said. “I’m encouraging both the mayor’s office and everyone in the [governmental affairs] committee to approach it with openness and to work to move this process forward.”

Reed said when St. Louis County Executive Sam Page worked on his list of appointees for the freeholders board, he spent time with each member of the County Council. 

Speaking to aldermen, Fourth Ward Alderman Samuel L. Moore indicated he might protest if he wasn’t satisfied with the outcome of talks over the city freeholders list.

If the process is fair, aldermen  might resolve everything at their meeting on Nov. 15, said Moore, who chairs the intergovernmental affairs committee.

“If it’s fair, we have the right to control our own destinies,” Moore said. “I’ve asked the mayor on several occasions to take three from the north, three from the south, and three from the central corridor.”

As of now, Moore said, “It is not a fair process.” 

Four of Krewson’s nine appointees are black, but only one lives north of Delmar Boulevard, committee members say.

In related action at Friday’s aldermanic meeting, 16th Ward Alderman Tom Oldenburg moved that Krewson’s slate of appointees be pulled from the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee and put back into the Board of Aldermen.

Reed said aldermen had the power to do that. However, they couldn’t do take that action in this case, because they had already tabled the matter, Reed said. So Reed ruled that Oldenburg’s motion was out of order.

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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