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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Today is 5th Ward Alderman Election Day

Posted By on Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Which 5th Ward Alderman candidate is headed City Hall?
  • Which 5th Ward Alderman candidate is headed City Hall?

Today, 5th ward voters will decide whom their next alderman will be: Tammika Hubbard, Rose Green, or Tonya Finley.

The main issue throughout the race has been developer Paul McKee's Northside Regenreration project, which has stalled over the last few years despite millions in city-funded tax incentives. At a candidate forum last week, which Hubbard did not attend, Green and Finley argued that Hubbard would not objectively deal with McKee because her brother Rodney Hubbard is the executive director of the Carr Square Tenant Corp., which owns a 2.5 percent stake in the development project.

This debate has grown to include criticism toward the process that led to Hubbard's nomination as the official Democratic candidate (Green and Finley, also Democrats, are listed as independents). Her father, Rodney Hubbard Sr., heads the ward's Democratic Central Committee, which selects the candidate.

"My stance is she's there to hold the place for the family," the ward's Republican central committeeman Mark Ogier, a Green supporter, said, according to Post-Dispatch reporter David Hunn. "She will not be the alderperson, in essence. The family will be the alderperson."

However, one reason the NorthSide project has so emphatically taken center stage in the election is that none of the three candidates have distinguished themselves through specific policy proposals.

Over the course of the shortened special election campaigns, the candidates each described platforms that were virtually identical, give or take a couple of personal details (Green is a homeowner, Finley worked for twelve years under former 5th Ward alderwoman April Ford-Griffin, Hubbard has experience as an elected official, as she served on the ward's Democratic Central Committee). Each candidate said she seeks to improve education, reduce crime, make resources more accessible for senior citizens, and bring more development into the ward. This consistency is not innately problematic-- after all, these are certainly critical issues in the 5th Ward, as in many areas in St. Louis.

But things get shaky when the candidates were asked, in interviews with the Riverfront Times, what specific legislation they would push to enact these changes. Not one had an clear answer.

That's not to say the candidates haven't articulated distinct ideas.

Finley proclaims that crime and education can be addressed by building more recreational facilities for the youth.

"It can be solved if we try to get some type of community center down here for the younger people, for the teenagers," she said in early November. "A lot of them are out of school. A lot don't have any access to the internet. If we can get them access to the internet, get them back going to school, they can be more productive."

Green declares that she will challenge McKee's project and increase competition between developers for 5th Ward land.

"There is a threat to property in this ward," she said in late November. "I am not gonna stand by and let him roll us over, that's for sure. That is not going to happen with me. I will stand up and I will fight."

Hubbard asserts that her experience as a parole officer at the Missouri Board of Probation & Parole and her education in criminal justice, in which she has a bachelor's degree, has infused in her the necessary intellectual tools to combat crime in the ward.

"I feel that I have the knowledge to understand what types of things need to take place to ensure that our neighborhoods are safer because I have a background in criminology and criminal justice," she said in early November.

The whats and whys are flying. Once the ballots are counted, one of these candidates will face the daunting task of figuring out how.

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