Committee delays action on new freeholders nominees

Committee delays action on new freeholders nominees

CITY HALL – With four new black nominees, an aldermanic committee seemed ready Tuesday to break a logjam and approve a package of nine city nominees to the Board of Freeholders/Electors.

But then members of the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee said they’d like to quiz the new  nominees personally and delayed action until another meeting on Thursday.

“I want to make sure that my committee is satisfied,” Fourth Ward Alderman Sam Moore, who chairs the committee, said at its meeting on Tuesday.  “I get the consensus that they’re not satisfied. They’re not ready to vote on this yet.”

Under the state constitution, the Board of Freeholders/Electors will discuss ways the city and county can cooperate, potentially including a vote on a merger. 

The St. Louis County Council has approved nine people nominated by County Executive Sam Page, and Gov. Mike Parson has appointed one.

However, the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee balked at the original nine nominations by Mayor Lyda Krewson because there weren’t enough from the north side. While four of them are black, only one lives north of Page Boulevard. That original nominee is Abdul-Kaba Abdullah, and the three who live south of Page are Earl E. Nance Jr., LaShana M. Lewis and Taunia Allen Mason.

After extensive negotiations, the mayor announced over the weekend that she was replacing her four black nominees with four other black nominees, three of whom live north of Page. The Intergovernmental Affairs Committee suggested the new nominees, a letter from Krewson to Moore and aldermanic President Lewis Reed indicates. 

The three who live north of Page are former 21st Ward Alderman Antonio French, owner/publisher of the NorthSider and SouthSider newspapers; Dwinderlin Evans, instructional specialist in the Normandy School District; and JoAnn Williams, business representative/organizer for the St. Louis-Kansas City Regional Council. 

The one new nominee who lives south of Page is Jon-Pierre Mitchom.

Committee member Sharon Tyus, who represents the First Ward, said she hoped to finish the work on Thursday. But she said she thought committee members would feel more comfortable if they could question the new nominees.

If the committee approves that list on Thursday, the full Board of Aldermen will consider it at its meeting on Friday.

Both black and white members of the board expressed dissatisfaction over the way members of the freeholders board had been chosen.

“This has not been an inclusive process,” 21st Ward Alderman John Collins-Muhammad said. “The mayor’s office did not include aldermen or community stakeholders within this process.

“The perception seems that we have rejected four black nominees, and we have not rejected any whites.”

Ninth Ward Alderman Dan Guenther said that the committee had listened to six hours of testimony from nominees. It also should listen to the new nominees, Guenther said.

Twenty-Fourth Ward Alderman Bret Narayan said many groups weren’t represented among the nominees. There are no Bosnians, Latinos or Asians represented. After Lewis was removed as a nominee, there are no LGBTQIA people in the group.

“A large swath of the city that is neither white nor black” is not represented, Narayan said.

Thursday’s meeting will be at 3 p.m in the Kennedy Room (Room 208) of City Hall.

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