St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed Resigns

click to enlarge Former St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed. - DANNY WICENTOWSKI
DANNY WICENTOWSKI
Former St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed.

Following federal corruption charges and public backlash, Lewis Reed has resigned as president of St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

His resignation comes five days after prosecutors indicted him on federal corruption charges relating to bribery. In a statement from his office, Reed says he was “heartbroken” and “saddened” in his decision to step down.

“This was a very difficult decision, but this is what I need to do for my family and to ensure a fully functional city government that our citizens deserve,” Reed wrote.

A wide call for Reed to resign ensued after a federal indictment detailing claims against Reed was unsealed on Thursday. At least 11 aldermen publicly urged him to leave office.

Prosecutors allege Reed, along with former aldermen John Collins-Muhammad and Jeffrey Boyd, accepted bribes from a local developer in exchange for their help in securing tax abatements.

After a court hearing on Friday, Reed told reporters he did not plan to resign. The former board president was present for a virtual meeting the next day which Alderman Joe Vollmer led. Vollmer became vice president of the board after Boyd resigned last week.

Reed says he wanted to pass on as much insight and experience as he could these past few days to ensure the transition of his office would be “as smooth as possible.”

“It is essential to assure the citizens have access and the best service available in such a pivotal role," Reed says. "I cannot fulfill these duties as I take the time to focus on my family and my current legal challenges.”

In a statement, Reed listed several of his accomplishments in office, including Bike St. Louis and setting up free COVID-19 testing sites in north St. Louis. Reed became president of the Board of Aldermen in 2007, the first Black politician to do so. He first entered city politics in 1999 after his election to Ward 6 alderman.

Reed wrote that the Board of Aldermen “has never worked more collaboratively and cohesively” throughout the years. He claimed alders, despite their differences, have come together to transform St. Louis through legislation.

Reed’s resignation celebrated by some.

“I have spent the last nine years of my life being bullied by, lied about, undermined, and gaslight by the president of the board,” Ward 8 Alderwoman Christine Inrassia wrote on Twitter. “I am so relieved the system has finally substantiated what I believed was happening for many years. I am excited to be a part of a new St. Louis.”

Mayor Tishaura Jones said Reed did "the right thing" by resigning.

“It’s no secret that Lewis Reed and I have been at odds for years, but I remain disappointed it came to this,” Jones said in a statement. “The troubling charges brought by the U.S. Attorney pull back the curtain to highlight how those elected may exploit our city for their own benefit and profit; this has been an incredibly dispiriting, but necessary, moment of reflection for our city.”

Jones later went on to suggest corruption has deeper roots in St. Louis, other than Reed and his co-defendants.

"Let me be clear: This problem runs deeper than a few individuals,” Jones said. "St. Louisans deserve better, and I am committed to working alongside fellow leaders to begin the difficult process of restoring trust and integrity in our city government."

Ward 12 Alderman Bill Stephens, who wrote a letter to Reed yesterday in which he urged him to resign, commended Reed for his decision to leave but remains weary.

“I am still troubled by this situation, and my spirit is still wounded,” Stephens wrote on Twitter. “My fear now is a mad grab for power from within the Board of Aldermen. May we keep the City and her interests centered in these coming months.”

About The Author

Monica Obradovic

Monica Obradovic is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times.
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