As we approach the five-year anniversary of a black-led police accountability movement in St. Louis County, the United States is led by an increasingly blatant white nationalist who is deepening the racial divide in this country and making it an international pariah when it comes to human rights. So it should be taken as something of a miracle that at least some voters — those who live in St. Louis County Districts 1 and 2 — have a chance to elect progressive change agents (one of them black) just three days before that anniversary.
On Tuesday, August 6, there will be a special election to fill two open seats on the St. Louis County Council. Those seats were opened by moves that also were unmistakably changes for the better for African Americans (and anyone else who values fair, progressive government). The District 2 seat was opened when the council elected Sam Page to succeed the disgraced fraud Steve Stenger as county executive, and the District 1 seat was opened when Page appointed Hazel Erby to lead the county’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
The Democratic candidates nominated by the Democratic committee members in those districts to stand in the August 6 election are very promising candidates in different ways. Rita Heard Days, the candidate in District 1, is a proven progressive black legislator who has served ably in the Missouri Senate and House of Representatives. One could scarcely imagine a more capable and established legislator to succeed Erby. Kelli Dunaway, the candidate in District 2, is a political unknown. However, she is running a racial equity campaign straight out of the Ferguson Commission playbook. Indeed, no white candidate in St. Louis County has ever presented such a brashly progressive face to voters. She is an attorney at Bryan Cave, so she knows the law well enough to put these values into legislative practice.
We see much to fear as we look at the nation, the State of Missouri, and even the City of St. Louis, where leadership is either lacking or charging in a dangerously wrong direction. But since we buried Michael Brown, St. Louis County has made drastic improvements in the influential positions of county prosecutor (Wesley Bell), county executive (Page) and another County Council seat (Lisa Clancy in District 5). Nearly on the anniversary of Brown’s death and the birth of a new civil rights movement, some voters have a chance that they should seize to further the political transformation of the County. We strongly endorse Rita Heard Days and Kelli Dunaway for County Council