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New list of potential city freeholders could resolve logjam

CITY HALL – Officials hope a logjam in naming nine city members of the new Board of Freeholders for the city and county will break at a committee meeting of the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday.

Mayor Lyda Krewson announced Friday on Twitter that she was in the process of identifying four new people to nominate, after the Board of Aldermen declined to confirm the nine people on her original list.

She was responding to a letter she received Friday afternoon from Fourth Ward Alderman Samuel Moore and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed.

In the letter, the two cite the four appointees they want replaced: LaShana Lewis, a diversity and technology consultant; Abdul-Kaba Abdullah, a development firm official and a former Berkeley city manager; the Rev. Earl Nance, a pastor and activist; and Taunia Mason, a St. Louis Science Center manager and the wife of Circuit Judge David Mason.

Earlier Friday, at the regular meeting of the Board of Aldermen, Moore, chairman of the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, had said that he was calling a meeting of  the committee for 11 a.m. Tuesday in Room 208 (the Kennedy Room) of City Hall to discuss a compromise over appointees to the Board of Freeholders. 

The city-county freeholders group, consisting of members from the city, the county and one person appointed by the governor, will take a year to discuss a potential relationship between the city and county, perhaps including a merger.

Black aldermen, including Moore, have said they want more representation than the one person – Abdullah – Krewson has named who lives north of Delmar Boulevard, where most black St. Louisans live.

The letter from Moore and Reed didn’t say why they wanted Abdullah off the mayor’s list.

At the Board of Aldermen’s meeting, Reed explained: “The compromise that I understand is that it allows for three people from that commission living north of Delmar. Then we’re assured that we have somebody who has the best interests of the community in mind, and also somebody that understands the challenges within that community.”

The St. Louis County Council has approved nine people appointed by County Executive Samuel Page, and Gov. Mike Parson also has appointed one. That group officially met as the Board of Freeholders on Nov. 12 to start its one-year term. But it didn’t do anything while the city’s appointees are on hold. 

Four of the mayor’s nine original appointees are black, but only one lives north of Delmar.

“I just want to be fair,” Moore said. “We should be represented east, west, north, south and city of St. Louis. We need to be represented.”

 “The last time I heard, blacks were the majority in this city, and I’ve always been told that the majority rules,” Moore said.

Jacob Long, Krewson’s director of communications, said the mayor’s office had had many conversations with aldermen and with Reed’s office. The mayor will continue to be open to working with them, he said. 

Long said it was great that Moore had called the meeting of the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee.

“We can’t wait to see what they do,” Long said. 

As for three appointees being from north of Delmar, Long said, “We understand that they have concerns.”

Meanwhile, the Board of Aldermen has a responsibility under the state constitution to vote on the appointees, Long said.

“If they don’t like three, then they should vote them down and then move the six [others] forward. It’s vitally important that the city maintains participation in this regional conversation,” Long said. “We’re more than hopeful. We’ve already missed one meeting. Let’s get this done.”

Krewson said in her tweet about her new list, “I am hopeful the Committee and full Board will act swiftly.”

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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