Big Night for 'Flip the Board' Candidates in St. Louis Aldermen Races

Apr 7, 2021 at 7:20 am
From Left: Ann Schweitzer, Tina "Sweet-T" Pihl and Bill Stephens all won seats on the Board of Aldermen, according to unofficial results. - TWITTER
From Left: Ann Schweitzer, Tina "Sweet-T" Pihl and Bill Stephens all won seats on the Board of Aldermen, according to unofficial results.

In an upset-filled night, two of four progressive candidates working to "flip the board" in aldermanic races unseated incumbents, and a third filled a hotly contested open seat.

Final tallies had Anne Schweitzer winning big against 13th Ward Alderwoman Beth Murphy while fellow newcomers Bill Stephens toppled a newly minted incumbent in Ward 12 and Tina "Sweet-T" Pihl appears to have slipped past a tough opponent for the open 17th Ward.

The results still need to be certified, and Pihl's apparent victory was tight. The unofficial count has the urban planner edging out Michelle Sherod by just nineteen votes, 1,151-1,132, to replace retiring Alderman Joe Roddy in a ward that includes swaths of the Central West End, Midtown and Botanical Heights neighborhood.

Roddy, often criticized from the left as too eager to shower developers with tax breaks, endorsed Sherod, whose political resume includes a stint as an aide to former Sen. Claire McCaskill.

The seat was a key piece in the "flip the board" strategy to install a progressive majority on the board. Progressives, led by 15th Ward Alderwoman Megan Green, backed Pihl, Schweitzer and Stephens along with Shedrick "Nato Caliph" Kelley, who challenged Alderman Jack Coatar in the 7th Ward.

Kelley pushed Coatar from the left and fell just 122 votes short, according to the unofficial results. The setback, however, was one of the few disappointments for progressives on Tuesday night. Stephens, a St. Louis Public Library employee, narrowly defeated Vicky Grass who had won a special election to replace ex-Alderman Larry Arnowitz, who pleaded guilty in federal court last year to fraud for siphoning funds from his campaign account.

Along with picking up seats, progressives held onto the ones they already had. Green dropped her predecessor Jennifer Florida by a margin of 67-33 percent in south city's 15th Ward, and 9th Ward Alderman Dan Guenther similarly won a rematch against Ken Ortmann, another longtime alderman who had been ousted during a previous progressive wave.

One of the intriguing upsets of the night was not specifically part of the "flip the board" strategy, but it will shake up the power structure on the board. James Page, executive director of the Downtown Neighborhood Association and a former Obama organizer, took out Alderwoman Tammika Hubbard in the 5th Ward.

Hubbard's family has long been political power brokers, and she and her father Rodney Hubbard Sr. are currently in a feud with a developer that alleges they're trying to squeeze them on a federal housing project in hopes of benefitting  the elder Hubbard's development corporation — allegations the Hubbards deny.

Page, a scooter-riding grandfather and prolific volunteer, finished with 52 percent of the vote, which translates to just 74 more votes than Tammika Hubbard. Heading into Election Day, he urged voters to "turn the page" on the 5th Ward.

Here's a ward-by-ward breakdown of Tuesday's Board of Aldermen results:

Ward 1
- Sharon Tyus (incumbent) - 847 (58 percent)
- Yolanda Brown - 620 (42 percent)

Ward 3
- Brandon Bosley (incumbent) - 750 (65 percent)
- Herdosia Bentum - 400 (35 percent)

Ward 4
- Dwinderlin Evans (incumbent) - 789 (63 percent)
- Edward McFowland - 467 (37 percent)

Ward 5
- Tammika Hubbard (incumbent) - 643 (47 percent)
- James Page - 717 (52 percent)

Ward 7
- Jack Coatar (incumbent) - 1,359 (52 percent)
- Shedrick "Nato Caliph" Kelley - 1,237 (48 percent)

Ward 9
- Dan Guenther - 1,419 (65 percent)
- Ken Ortmann - 745 (34 percent)

Ward 11
- Sarah Martin (incumbent) - 1,234 (96 percent)

Ward 12
- Vicky Grass (incumbent) - 1,330 (48 percent)
- Bill Stephens - 1,421 (52 percent)

Ward 13
- Beth Murphy (incumbent) - 885 (37 percent)
- Anne Schweitzer - 1,496 (63 percent)

Ward 15
- Megan Green (incumbent) - 1,916 (67 percent)
- Jennifer Florida - 927 (33 percent)

Ward 17
- Michelle Sherod - 1,132 (50 percent)
- Tina Pihl - 1,151 (50 percent)

Ward 19
- Marlene Davis (incumbent) - 1,014 (78 percent)
- Cleo Willis - 289 (22 percent)

Ward 21
- John Muhammad (incumbent) - 1,031 (61 percent)
- Laura Keys - 655 (39 percent)

Ward 23
- Joe Vaccaro (incumbent) - 2,750 (94 percent)

Ward 25
- Shane Cohn (incumbent) - 1,010 (97 percent)

Ward 27
- Pamela Boyd (incumbent) - 810 (54 percent)
- Chris Carter - 663 (45 percent)

- Darlene Green (incumbent)

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected] or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.
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