Ferguson protest: 'I am a man'

Rasheen Aldridge marches with protesters near Ferguson Police Department in 2014 in response to the shooting death of Michael Brown by former officer Darren Wilson. 

State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. submitted his letter of resignation from his 78th District seat on July 31, and has publicly explained that he needed to address some issues of anxiety and depression. Two young, talented black men have put their names into the hat to be Franks’ successor – Rasheen Aldridge, committeeman for the 5th Ward, and Marty Murray, committeeman for the 7th Ward. Franks respects both candidates, he told the American, and he considered not endorsing in the race in order to “keep his sanity.” However, the community members told him that they needed his direction.

This week, he endorsed Aldridge.

“In the three years I held that seat, we redefined what that position is,” Franks told the American. “It wasn’t just coming into a building, pushing a button, talking about legislation and going on a break. We showed that it was a full-time job and we were going out into the streets to empower the community. The person following me would need to be able to handle the 78th District. My endorsement was no knock to Marty. The best person for the position is Rasheen.”

The governor will most likely set the special election for Nov. 5, said Gary Stoff, Republican director of the St. Louis City Elections Board. Because it’s a special election, there will not be a primary election. The Democratic nominee will be chosen by the 18 committeemen that make up the 78th District – which includes the committee people for the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 20th and 25th Wards. The vote will be weighted, based on a pretty complicated formula of voting in that ward. Anyone who wants to vie for the position would need to get a nomination from a committeeperson. The committee’s vote will likely take place in the next couple weeks.

Aldridge said he was sad to see Franks go, but he respects his decision to take care of himself.

“I plan to work tirelessly with every 78th District resident and business, in every neighborhood, to make sure all concerns and issues are heard and addressed,” Aldridge said in an email. “Being a lifelong resident of the 78th District, I understand why more than ever we need to keep representation in Jefferson City that is going to be accountable, honest, and transparent to the people of the 78th District.”

Aldridge has the support or endorsements from State Sen. Jamiliah Nasheed and state Reps. Brandon Ellington, Doug Clemens, Chris Carter, Lakeysha Bosley, Wiley Price and Tracy McCreery.

Murray said, “I believe everything I have done politically has prepared me to be a legislator in the state House. My career in politics began with organizing on campus for President Obama’s first campaign. Ever since that point I have held political internships, worked as a consumer advocate for the attorney general, community organizer for social issues (raising the minimum wage, reproductive rights, and criminal justice reform), and worked to elect candidates across the region.” 

Cora Faith Walker 

The Nov. 5 special election will likely also include the 74th District, now that former state. rep. Cora Faith Walker has joined St. Louis County Executive Sam Page’s administration as his director of policy.

“Cora’s policy record is marked by collaboration and building a consensus with diverse colleagues,” Page said in a statement. “She will play a big role as we address the many challenges our region faces like crime and public safety, restoring trust in County government, and improving the business climate.”

 On July 26, Walker resigned from her position as state representative, which she had held since 2016.

“Representing the people of St. Louis County in Jefferson City has been rewarding and I’m grateful that residents trusted me to serve them,” Walker said. “But local government has so much more potential to improve the lives of our residents. Sam Page is tackling our region’s biggest problems, and I’m excited to join his administration.”

Prior to serving in the legislature, Walker was a faculty member at St. Louis University School of Law and worked in policy at the Missouri Foundation for Health. Walker holds a master’s degree in public health from Washington University in St. Louis and a law degree from St. Louis University. 

Dunaway & Days 

There is a special election on Tuesday, August 6 to fill two open seats on the St. Louis County Council –  District 1 and District 2.

The District 2 seat was opened when the council elected Sam Page to succeed the disgraced fraud Steve Stenger as county executive, and District 1 seat was opened when Page appointed Hazel Erby to lead the county’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

Page has endorsed Kelli Dunaway to take his place, and she has a broad range of other endorsements –  including various labor unions, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri and a lengthy list of elected officials.

“Kelli will bring enthusiasm and fresh ideas that will help restore honor and integrity to county government,” Page said in his endorsement.

State Sen. Brian Williams (D-District 14) said, “Kelli is a team builder and dedicated leader, and I’m confident that she will be a valuable asset on the county council.”

District 2 encompasses Hazelwood, Overland, Maryland Heights, St. Ann and parts of Chesterfield and unincorporated St. Louis County. Her opponents are Republican Amy Poelker, 57, a St. Ann alderwoman who previously ran against Page in 2016 and garnered 41 percent of the vote; and Libertarian Jim Higgins, 71, a retired systems analyst.

For District 1, Rita Heard Days has much support from the black community, but she also recently received an endorsement from the Eastern Missouri Group of the Sierra Club.

“Rita has the dedication and vision to help move our county to a clean energy future that improves air and water quality, creates local jobs, and reduces utility bills,” said local Sierra Club Political Chair Ross Hunt.  

Days, a Democrat who was nominated by Democratic committee members in the district, faces Sarah Davoli, a Republican, and Nicholas (Nick) Kasoff, a Libertarian.

District 1 is generally central-north county, from the north half of University City to Ferguson and from Jennings to Berkeley.

Along with its endorsement, the Sierra Club will lend its volunteer strength to Rita’s campaign. “We pledge to do all we can to help ensure that Rita is elected,” said John Hickey, chapter director. “Sierra Club volunteers will contact voters about the critical public health and clean energy issues that are at stake in this election.”

The American endorsed Dunaway and Days last week.

Polls are open 6 a.m.-7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 6. Absentee voting is underway. Reach the St. Louis County election board (725 Northwest Plaza Dr. in St. Ann) at 314-615-1800, Stlouiscovotes@stlouisco.com or www.stlouisco.com/yourgovernment/ElectionBoard

Committeemen airport vote 

On Saturday, July 20, the St. Louis City Democratic Central Committee voted overwhelmingly to empower the residents of the City of St. Louis to be granted an opportunity to have a binding vote on the effort to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport.  The committee said that it sends a clear message that they believe city voters should have a voice in the future of the city’s most important asset.

 “It’s urgent that moving forward the community is at the forefront. The STL DCC is unwavering in its support of its constituents and supports allowing the voters of the City of St. Louis resident to have a binding vote in choosing to privatize or not privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport.”   

For more information, please visit http://stlcitydems.com/ or contact Chairman Michael Butler at 314-324-9163.

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