CITY HALL – It’s getting warmer outside, as is, perhaps, the effort to name nine city representatives to the city-county Board of Freeholders.
On Wednesday, members of the aldermanic Intergovernmental Affairs Committee struck a positive tone in their first meeting to consider Mayor Lyda Krewson’s slate of nominees since November.
The committee, which had tabled the mayor’s list of nominees at an earlier meeting, voted to bring the list to the table so members could consider them again. And they interviewed three potential freeholders.
Made up of nine members from the city, nine from the county and one nominated by the governor, the Freeholders Board will consider the future of the city-county relationship and could decide to put a measure on the ballot on a potential city-county merger.
The county and Gov. Mike Parson have finished work on their nominees. But in the Board of Aldermen, progress has stalled because north side aldermen didn’t feel they were getting enough representation, and some south side aldermen didn’t think there was enough LBGTQIA and ethnic representation.
“We are having an ongoing discussion with the mayor’s office,” First Ward Alderwoman Sharon Tyus said. As the committee’s vice chair, she led the meeting in the absence of its chair, Fourth Ward Alderman Samuel Moore. Moore has been ill and has missed several Board of Aldermen meetings.
Freeholders nominees the committee interviewed were Fourth Ward Democratic Committeewoman Dwinderlin Evans and former Alderwoman Velma Bailey, both of whom are from the north side; and Gilberto Pinela, who is gay and from Puerto Rico. Krewson has nominated Evans but not the other two.
Jacob Long, Mayor Lyda Krewson’s spokesman, provided the following statement on Monday:
“In September 2019, Mayor Krewson sent over her original slate of nominees to the Board of Freeholders/Electors within hours of the Board of Election Commissioners certifying the process. We were notified in November 2019 by [Board of Aldermen President] Reed and Chairman Moore that the IA committee would be unable to approve four of our original nominees.
“Then, at the specific request of President Reed and Chairman Moore, we replaced those four more than qualified, talented individuals with four new nominees who Reed & Moore also specifically requested.
“Bottom line, we have gone above and beyond on more than one occasion to fulfill our Constitutional duties and accommodate President Reed and Chairman Moore throughout this entire process. Yet, here we are four months later, and President Reed and the Board of Aldermen have still, despite continued assurances of getting this resolved, failed to take any substantive action.”
After Wednesday’s meeting, Long told The SouthSider, “I’m encouraged to see them hold their first hearing in 90 days.”