Lyda Krewson

Then-Alderwoman Lyda Krewson on the floor of the Board of Aldermen in February 2015. Her 28th Ward seat was left open by her election as mayor.

Photo by Wiley Price

The race to fill Mayor Lyda Krewson’s spot on the Board Aldermen took some interesting turns this week.

On May 6, the Democratic Committee of the 28th Ward selected Elise Miller Hoffman, president of the St. Louis Young Democrats, as their nominee in the upcoming special election. But on May 9, Hoffman announced that she misinterpreted the city’s residency requirement to run for alderman and was “stepping down” as the Democratic candidate.

“As a private citizen, I will continue to be an advocate for St. Louisans who are underserved by their government due to the color of their skin, housing status, income level, sexual orientation, gender or country of origin,” Hoffman said in a letter to the Democratic Central Committee.

Art Perry, the 28th Ward Democratic committeeman, said that although Hoffman has lived in the city for seven of the last 10 years, she bounced around between St. Louis County and the city, “as young people do.” Most recently she has only lived in the city for the last year and a half, which doesn’t meet the three-year residency requirement outlined in the City Charter. She also recently paid taxes in St. Louis County, and anyone running for alderman must have paid taxes within the city for one year prior to the election.

Hoffman was selected from 11 candidates. At noon today (May 10), The St. Louis American’s print deadline day, the 28th Democratic Committee was supposed to meet to select a new candidate, Perry said, but they were unable to get in touch with all the candidates. Perry said they want to talk with the candidates and make sure they are eligible.

Perry said the committee – which consists of less than a dozen members – will make a decision tonight.

Regardless of the committee’s decision, two candidates – Celeste Vossmeyer and Steven C. Roberts – have said that they plan to run as Independents.

Celeste Vossmeyer is an attorney at Thompson Coburn law firm, who previously served as general counsel for the Bi-State Development Agency (now Metro Transit Agency). She said she has helped in many political campaigns and thinks her professional background and community involvement have helped to prepare her for an aldermanic position.

She said the most important role of an alderwoman is to make sure the ward’s residents are receiving quality public services. For the city overall, the three main issues she would like to focus on are public safety, responsible development and inclusiveness.

As far as development, she said that the city needs to grow, “but we need to be careful of what we give away.” She believes the entire process of city development could be improved with some small but effective changes to zoning policies, at little to no cost to the city. She said that there are places in the city that have been “left out” of receiving adequate services.

“When we are ignoring vacant buildings and not providing the same level of services to everyone, it’s bad for the whole city,” Vossmeyer said. “As a lawyer, I don’t think you can get anything done if you are not inclusive. Things don’t work, and they fall apart eventually.”

Steven C. Roberts is currently the chief of staff to Sheriff Vernon Betts and president of the Roberts Companies, and he previously served as an alderman for more than a decade.

“As a businessman and entrepreneur, I also know what it takes to promote economic revival, to help new business startups, to keep St. Louis in the innovation and tech hub forefront,” Roberts said. “I intend to put that experience to work championing youth employment opportunities as well.”

He also said he will make sure the ward is receiving adequate city services and address the challenges of crime and violence. He also intends to work to address the inequities between the various parts of the city.

“We must become a city united for progress,” he said.

The special election to replace Krewson on the Board of Aldermen will be held on Tuesday, July 11.

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