Tuesday, November 24, 2020

STL City Approval Voting

On November 3, 2020, 68% of St. Louis City voters passed Approval Voting (Prop D). Leading up to the election, there was a spirited debate about this system, but regardless of how you personally felt (or voted), this is the system we now have in St. Louis City Municipal Elections. 

This is a great video explaining the differences between Plurality voting (our old system), Ranked Choice Voting, and Approval voting (what we have now). 

In Saint Louis City, our Municipal Elections are for the offices of Mayor, Alderman, Comptroller, and President of the Board of Aldermen. On March 2, 2021, we will have our first Primary Election under this new Approval Voting System for Mayor, Odd # Ward Aldermen, and Wards 4 & 12 (due to special elections), and Comptroller. 

Here is a great video from the Missouri ACLU that explains a bit more about what to expect with our new Approval Voting system. 

This is another great (and short!) video explaining approval voting produced by Confluence Scholars Strategy Network.

There are a few differences you'll notice under this new Approval Voting System.

1. Candidates will be gathering signatures to get on the ballot. 

Since Prop D just passed in November and takes effect in this very next Municipal Election in March, candidates are bound by "Section 2.08.330 of the St. Louis City Code of Ordinances pertaining to provisions for nomination -- non-partisan candidates". This ordinance was never designed to be on the books for a non-partisan primary with approval voting but instead has been in place to require candidates who run as Independents to show a measure of support to get on the ballot. I completely expect that the Board of Aldermen will be revisiting this ordinance at some point, but there simply wasn't time ahead of this first Municipal Election. 

I know another point of concern was the "exclusivity" meaning that a voter can only sign one candidate petition per office. While this is the letter of the law currently, I expect this will also might be amended moving forward as it is contradictory to the intentions of Prop D – but even if this doesn't change, what it says is "I have not aided, and will not aid, in the nomination of any other candidate" (Petition = Nomination) so while you can only sign a petition for one candidate per office, once these candidates have filed with the Board of Election you can (and should, in my opinion) help any/all of the candidates you approve of to receive enough votes to make it to the General run-off Election.

If you want to know more about the requirements to run for office under this new system you can read candidate requirements on the Board of Election Website or Show Me Integrity website.

Info sheet provided by the St. Louis City Democratic Central Committee

2. You don't have to pick just one team (yet)!

Our Primaries in St. Louis usually end up being the "real" race, and whoever manages to win the Primary gets the General Election in a walk. This new approval voting system will change that. So, we don't have to choose just one candidate, not yet. This means we now have the opportunity for coalition-building and getting more people behind a couple of great candidates and maybe keeping one we really don't approve of, out. And then ahead of the General (and when we're down to two candidates we like) we can really talk about policy and what differentiates the last two candidates. 

If you choose to only back one candidate this early in the race, you're basically back to the Plurality system we just voted to get rid of. We have an opportunity to work with multiple candidates who align with us, to help them get through to that General Ballot, which is exactly what I intend to do.

3. What to expect when you vote:

Usually in a Primary Election, when you go into cast your ballot (or request your absentee ballot) you are asked which Party ballot you would like. In Missouri, that's Republican, Democrat, Green, Constitution, Libertarian, or Non-Partisan ballots. In the past, "non-partisan ballots used to be issue-only (no candidates) this is no longer the case.

Now, since Municipal elections will have only non-partisan candidates you will have only one ballot that has all the candidates and issues. Remember that this new approval voting ONLY applies to the City offices so in Primary Elections other than Municipal Elections you will choose your party ballot as you always have - this includes elections where the offices of Recorder of Deeds, License Collector and, Collector of Revenue are on the ballot.

When you look at your ballot, it will appear the same, but the big difference is that you can vote for all the candidates you approve of – one or more than one candidate. You may recall voting in SLPS Board races where you could "vote for up to 3" candidates - this is similar.

It's a change, and we're all new to this. I encourage you to read more on the benefits of Approval Voting and encourage you to support ALL the candidates you approve of in this Primary on March 2, 2021.

I also encourage you to read Ten Critiques of Approval Voting which outlines top critiques and rebuttals of the approval voting system and goes on to greater detail about how to vote strategically.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Your 24W General Ballot

As we're all looking ahead to the General Election on November 3, 2020 – it's important to remember that this isn't just a Presidental Election, you've got statewide Missouri offices, State Reps/Senate, City of Saint Louis offices, Judges, and Issues to learn about. This blog is an overview of what's on your ballot, and where you can learn more.

Download Full St. Louis City Sample Ballot

Bookmark the Missouri ACLU Election Hub as a great resource for ballot information, finding a notary, voter information/registration, and keeping up with everything you need ahead of Election Day.

View plain language descriptions on Vote411.org from the non-partisan League of Women Voters about what's on your ballot. The issue summaries below are pulled from their site.

Collective Endorsements - Organization for Black Struggle (OBS)

Here's what you'll see on your November 3rd, 2020 General Election Ballot:

President and Vice President

Much information is available about our current inhabitants of the white house in Donald J. Trump/Mike Pence (R) and the Democratic ticket of Joseph Biden/Kamala Harris (D). 

Missouri Governor

Governor Mike Parson (R) took office on June 1, 2018, following the resignation of Eric Greitens. He's been widely criticized for his lack of statewide leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nicole Galloway (D) is our current MO State Auditor and the only statewide elected Democrat. Galloway has the Endorsement of Emily's List, a National Organization supporting diverse Pro-Choice Democratic candidates. Galloway has been a champion of transparency which is demonstrated in the audit reporting found on the Auditor's website.

Missouri Lieutenant Governor

Current Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe (R) was appointed in 2018 by Mike Parson. Previous, Kehoe served the 6th Senatorial District and was Assistant Majority Floor Leader and Majority Floor Leader. Democratic candidate Alissia Canady (D) is a proven leader with a platform of combating City Violence, Addressing Health Disparities, and promoting Education and Economic Development. She also has been endorsed by Emily's List.

Missouri Secretary of State

The Secretary of State is responsible for: Drafting Fair Ballot Language, Administering Elections, Educating Voters. This makes the SOS one of the most important elected officials in the state. Current SoS Jay Ashcroft (R) has demonstrated that he's not interested in making it easier for Missourians to vote with our confusing voting laws and deceptive ballot language for Amd. 3 that ended up in the courts to get fair language presented to voters. In contrast, Yinka Faleti (D) is a champion for voter's rights. He's also a West Point graduate, and a U.S. Army Veteran. Yinka is running to increase opportunities to vote, reduce barriers to voter participation, and protect and honor our ballot initiative process.

Missouri State Treasurer

Current MO State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick (R) has served since 2019 when he was appointed by Parson after Eric Schmitt was appointed to Attorney General creating a vacancy in the Office of State Treasurer. Vicki Englund (D) is a former State Representative with a platform of Experienced Leadership, Economic Recovery Plan, and Dedication to Inclusion. Englund has been posting an idea a day leading up to the election about how to improve Missouri's economy. She is also endorsed by Emily's List.

Missouri Attorney General

Eric Schmitt (R) was appointed by Parson in 2019 to the office of Attorney General after the incumbent, Josh Hawley was elected to the United States Senate. Previously he served as State Treasurer and State Senator. On the Democratic side, Rich Finneran (D) is a former federal prosecutor and Assistant U.S. Attorney. During his time as a federal prosecutor, Rich handled two of the largest financial fraud cases ever prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

U.S. Representative District 1

Congressional District 1 (which encompasses all of Saint Louis city, and parts of STL County) has been represented by Lacy Clay (D) since 2001. Clay lost to Primary Challenger Cori Bush (D) in August 2020 with a platform that puts regular, everyday people first, with solutions that are long overdue. Bush will face Anthony Rogers (R) and Alex Furman (Lib) in November. Rogers has endorsements of Roger Stone and Tiger King star Joshua Dial and Furman is Vice President of STL Proud Boy chapter and served time with drug-related charges.

State Representative District 83

Jo Doll (D) won the Democratic Primary in August to replace term-limited Gina Mitten. With a strong platform focusing on healthcare and family, Doll is the presumptive Rep but will face Andrew Bolin (Lib) on November's ballot before it's official.

State Representative District 84

Current Representative Wiley (Chip) Price IV (D) is running unopposed.

Saint Louis City Circuit Attorney

Incumbent and primary winner Kimberly M. Gardner (D) is challenged by Daniel Zdrodowski (R). Zdrodowski is critical of Gardner's work, but Gardner easily won the primary with 60.7% of the vote.

Saint Louis City Sheriff

Incumbent and primary winner Vernon Betts (D) is challenged by John N. Castellano III (R). St. Louis city has had a Democratic Sheriff since 1933.

Saint Louis City Treasurer

Incumbent and primary winner Tishaura O. Jones (D) is challenged by Robert Vroman (R). Vroman describes himself as "pro-business, pro-choice, pro-gun, pro-immigrant, anti-prohibition, anti-war" in contrast, Jones is working to improve the overall financial health of city residents by opening the Office of Financial Empowerment, offering free financial literacy classes and counseling, and the College Kids Savings Program. 

For candidates, I will be voting the straight D ticket on these races.


Missouri Supreme Court Judge, Missouri Court of Appeals (Eastern District) Judges, Circuit Court Judges (22nd Judicial Circuit), Associate Circuit Court Judges (22nd Judicial Circuit)

Researching judges is always something that I get a lot of questions about. The best resource we have to see how the MO Bar Review Committee rates our judges at YourMissouriJudges.org 

Thread by Rebecca Rivas (Reporter for @MO_Independent) on 22nd Circuit Judges.

Constitutional Amendment 1 

"Do you want to amend the Missouri Constitution to extend the two term restriction that currently applies to the Governor and Treasurer to the Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor and the Attorney General?"

A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to impose a two term restriction on all statewide elected officials, which currently only applies to the Governor and Treasurer.
A “no” vote will leave the terms that statewide elected officials may serve unchanged.

State and local governmental entities estimate no costs or savings from this proposal.

Summary: If passed, Amendment 1 would limit the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor and attorney general to two terms. The state constitution now limits only the governor and treasurer to two terms. Supporters say term limits will keep elected officials from becoming career politicians. Opponents contend that those positions should be limited by voters, not the constitution.

24WPD have endorsed Yes on 1.

Constitutional Amendment 3 

Known as "Dirty Missouri" This effort by those in Jeff City would overturn the Clean Missouri Amendment voters passed by 62% in 2018. So, if you voted yes on Clean MO, vote NO on 3.

"Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
• Ban gifts from paid lobbyists to legislators and their employees;
• Reduce legislative campaign contribution limits;
• Change the redistricting process voters approved in 2018 by: (i) transferring responsibility for drawing state legislative districts from the Nonpartisan State Demographer to Governor-appointed bipartisan commissions; (ii) modifying and reordering the redistricting criteria.

State governmental entities expect no cost or savings. Individual local governmental entities expect significant decreased revenues of a total unknown amount."

A “yes” vote overturns the will of 62% of MO voters who passed Clean MO in 2018
A “no” vote upholds what voters passed in 2018 with Clean MO

Summary: This proposal asks voters to reverse key parts of a "Clean Missouri'' redistricting overhaul they approved in 2018. The ballot language was disputed and had to be finalized by a Missouri Western District Court of Appeals ruling.

If passed, Amendment 3 would eliminate the nonpartisan state demographer used for redistricting approved in 2018. It would return to the use of bipartisan commissions in the state house and state senate appointed by the governor. It would not use the total population count to determine districts, but only count eligible voters. It would also change the limit of lobbyists' gifts from $5 to $0 and lower the campaign contribution limit for state senate campaigns from $2,500 to $2,400.

Supporters say that voters need to be given another chance to consider the issue of redistricting. They also say that bipartisan commissions would less likely be corrupted, reflect the views of different communities and protect minorities.

Opponents say that Amendment 3 is the legislators' gerrymandering amendment, and that it would reverse the 2018 voters' decision, thus threatening democracy. Missouri would be the only state in the country to discount 1.5 million children, immigrants, international students and incarcerated citizens. Communities of color would be significantly underrepresented.

I urge you to vote NO on 3. 24WPD have also endorsed No on 3.

Proposition D

Proposed by Initiative Petition and supported by STL Approves, this would change how local STL elections are run taking effect ahead of our Municipal Elections in March 2021.

"Shall the City of St. Louis adopt an ordinance to:
* establish an open, non-partisan system for elections to the offices of Mayor, Comptroller, President of the Board of Aldermen, and Alderman
* enable voters to choose all the candidates they wish in the open, non-partisan primary
* allow the top two candidates to then compete in a runoff general election?"

"Yes" vote would change the elections to this format
"No" vote would keep elections as they are

Summary: This proposition was placed on the ballot through an initiative petition drive. If passed, it would remove party affiliations from the primary ballot for candidates for mayor, comptroller, aldermanic president and alderman, and make the general election a runoff between the top two vote-getting candidates for each post. In the primary, voters could vote for any or all candidates they approve and then would vote for one in the general election. The change would go into effect for the 2021 elections. Supporters complain that some city officials have been elected with less than 40% of the primary vote under the current system. They add that under the proposition, some officeholders would be elected with broader citywide support. They also point out that nonpartisan city elections are held in all other Missouri municipalities and 80% of municipalities nationwide. Opponents say political parties would be hurt and lose their candidates' party identity and that the ward committee system would be weakened. They also say residents would be confused by the proposed change.

Both 24WPD and both committeepersons in the 24th endorse Yes on D.

Proposition 1

"Shall Section 2 of Article VIII of the City of St. Louis Charter, which requires all officers and employees of the City of St. Louis to reside within the City's boundaries, be amended to permit the employees of the City of St. Louis except for City agency and department directors appointed by the Mayor to reside outside of the City's boundaries?"

"Yes" vote would allow city employees to live outside city boundaries
"No" vote would keep the current requirement in place for city residency.

An important note about this Proposition, this DOES NOT include employees of SLMPD as that requirement has already been lifted by the MO Legislature and was signed into law 9/21/20.

Summary: The measure, a proposed amendment to the city charter, would extend repeal of the city residency requirement to all city civil service employees. A state law passed in September already has removed the requirement for employees of the police and fire departments and other first responders hired before September 2023. Supporters of repeal say it could help the city attract more people to fill hundreds of vacancies in city government. Opponents say the residency requirement makes it more likely that city employees will know the areas they serve. Opponents also argue that the city personnel department should do a better job recruiting city residents for available jobs.

24WPD have endorsed No on 1.

Proposition R

"Shall the City of St. Louis levy an additional tax of six cents per each one hundred dollars ($100.00) of assessed valuation as authorized by Section 210.860 R.S.Mo. for the purpose of providing additional funding for community children's services, in particular, early childhood services for children aged five years and under, in addition to the current levy of nineteen cents per each one hundred dollars ($100) of assessed valuation?"

"Yes" vote would allow additional sales tax
"No" vote would not add sales tax

Prop R is similar to a scenario that recently hit a roadblock in the County. 

Summary: City officials want to increase the tax rate for the community children's services fund from 19 cents per $100 dollars assessed valuation to 25 cents, the maximum allowed by state law. The Children's Services fund is administered by the city mental health board. If passed, the owner of a $150,000 home would pay about $17 more a year, and about $2.3 million would be raised annually. The additional funds would be targeted for early childhood services for children under age 5 in the city's most vulnerable neighborhoods.

Supporters say early childhood education is a key to success in school. The current 225 licensed early childhood centers serve about 10,000 children, but many more need these services. Parents of these children would be able to work and pursue educational opportunities to improve their families' lives.

24WPD are No on R.
OBS, Teacher's Union, and STL School Board have all OPPOSED this measure.

Proposition T

"Should Chapter 23 of the Revised Code of the City of St. Louis be amended to impose a gross receipts tax of seven and one half percent of the gross receipts obtained from Telecommunications Providers, which are and include every entity now or hereafter engaged in a general telecommunication business in the City, providing telecommunication, telecommunications exchange, or local, toll, or long distance, telephone service to its customers with a service or billing address within the St. Louis City limits; and Fiber Networks Providers, which are and include every entity now or hereafter engaged in providing fiber networks, built whole or in part in the City's public right of way, which are not internet or service providers subject to franchise fees, to customers and other users of fiber networks?"

"Yes" vote would impose tax on Telecomm Providers
"No" vote would not 

Summary: Officials want to replace the city's $2.20 per linear feet right-of-way fee that network providers pay before giving service, with a gross receipt tax of 7.5 percent. If passed, customers will pay the same tax as they do for telephone service. The right-of-way fee is currently rolled into internet charges. Some parts of the city, particularly north of Delmar, are getting poor service, supporters say. They add if the right-of-way fee is eliminated, providers will have a strong incentive to move into new neighborhoods, competitors will enter the market and all parts of the city will get better service. Providers will not have to pay high fees up front. They can collect the tax after gaining customers.

24WPD has endorsed Yes on T.

Make your VOTING PLAN now, and make sure your voice is heard on 11/3/20! Please check back to this blog as it will be updated as new sources/information becomes available.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Be a Poll Worker

As many of you know, I've been working as an Election Judge for the past handful of Elections. And this year, it's especially important to recruit new Poll Workers because many of those to consistently do this work unavailable due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

Signing up to be a Poll Worker is an important way you can ensure we don't have polling locations close. Staffing Poll Workers is key to keeping all of our city polling locations open, making it as accessible as possible for voters to cast their votes. 

We can't have a successful Election Day without some of us stepping up to do the work on November 3rd.

There are a couple different jobs you could have on Election Day:

Election Judge Poll Worker

Check-in and assist voters on Election Day, these are partisan roles

In order to become an Election Judge in the City of St. Louis, residents must:
• Be a City of St. Louis resident
• Be 18 years of age or older and a registered voter
• Be able to read, write, and speak the English language
• Be available from 5:00 a.m. until the closing of the polls
• Attend a training session prior to the Election
• Pay per Election = $125 (includes mandatory training pay)
• Declare a Political party (Democrat, Republican or Independent)

Technical Specialist Poll Worker

Set up and maintain all the technical aspects of the polling place machines under the direction and rules specified by law, the BOE, and poll managers, this is a non-partisan role. 

Requirements: (including those above except this is non-partisan)
• Must have basic computer comprehension and mechanical skills 
• Non-Partisan Position Pay per Election $150 (includes 6-hour training class)
• Must have your own vehicle 
• Able to lift 40 lbs

High School Student Poll Worker

St. Louis City High School Student Election Participation Project

The following guidelines apply to High School students seeking to become a poll worker:

• Students must be at least 15 years old and in tenth, eleventh, or twelfth grade at a St. Louis City High School 
• Students who are 16, 17, or 18 years of age can earn community service hours for training service and working on Election Day(s) OR may be compensated monetarily for their services
• Students must serve as Student Poll Workers/Greeters with the permission of a parent or legal guardian
• Students must have a recommendation from their high school for participation in the program. [Principal or counselor preferred]
• Students will work in a non-partisan capacity
• Students hours on Election Day are 5:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Ask regarding partnering hours.)

Mail your paper application to:

Attn: Summer Richardson
Assistant Deputy Republican Director
St. Louis City Board of Election Commissioners
300 N. Tucker
St. Louis, MO 63101

or FAX the hard-copy application to 314-622-4060

Democratic Poll Watchers/Challengers

Democratic Poll Watchers are not employed by the Election Board but are credentialed and allowed to be in a polling location to watch the process. If you're interested in volunteering in the city of St. Louis as a Democratic Watcher/Challenger send Carolyn an email and her know you'd like to know more.

Election Protection Volunteers

Sign up to work for the Saint Louis Voter Protection Coalition (866-OUR-VOTE). They need roving monitors, polling place monitors, social media monitors (an ongoing volunteer position starting soon!), folks to help place 866OURVOTE signs at polling places, and lawyers to answer the hotline & pursue urgent problems. All volunteer positions can be contactless. Sign up and learn more. 

Let's do this.

So, make this year the year YOU help make our elections run smoothly and witness Democracy in action by working as a Poll Worker. I won't lie to you, it's a long day... but it's also incredibly rewarding.

If you are employed by the Election Board, you can vote absentee in-person ahead of Election Day. 

Learn more about how you can be involved in St. Louis City Board of Election Commissioners website. Or if you're outside the city, you can apply on your local election authority website or learn more on the Secretary of State website.

FYI: You may also See Poll Managers and Roving Deputies in the city. Poll Managers are long-time Election Judges who will oversee the operations at each polling location, they work in bi-partisan teams, meaning there will a Republican and Democrat Poll Manager at each polling location. Roving Deputies also work in bi-partisan teams but they rotate between polling locations within a ward of the city. Roving Deputies are escorted by an SLMPD officer, they are why you might see more police around your polling location than usual. Rovers are ultimately responsible for returning ballots back to the Board of Election downtown after polls close, so remember, while it's a long day for all Election Judges, it's the longest day for a Roving Deputy and Poll Managers. Bring them coffee.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Community Spaces: Our 24W Parks

If there's one thing that living through a global pandemic will demonstrate, it's how much we as a community need our public spaces. Our parks are one of the most amazing things about living in Saint Louis, and right here in the 24th Ward, we have some hidden gems.

**Please practice social distancing in our parks and follow orders from the City of Saint Louis about use of public spaces during COVID-19**

Clifton Park
Simpson Avenue loops around the "bowl" portion of the park that was originally developed as a private park for residents of Clifton Heights, the park was conveyed to Saint Louis city in 1912.  Ten years later, the city bought the adjoining property, enlarging the park to the 4.4 acres we know now.

Throughout the year you can find events sponsored by the Clifton Heights Neighborhood Association including the annual "Party in the Park" and Easter Egg Hunt. We enjoy the park with our dogs along the walking paths that cross through the park letting them say 'hi' to the many ducks that reside in the pond.

Franz Park
Bordered by Mitchell Avenue, Glades Avenue, Prather Avenue, and Kraft Street - Franz Park is also utilized by Wilkinson Early Childhood Center. Highlights of Franz Park include Tennis courts, softball fields, a soccer field, and exercise challenge course. The 4.67 acres became known as Franz Park after Sophia D. Franz gave her acres to the city for a park and playground in honor of her husband Ehrhardt D. Franz in 1915.

The shelter house and picnic tables are a great place to meet neighbors at a safe social distance, or in my case: Notary work.

Francis Slay Park
Located in the Ellendale neighborhood and bordered by McCausland Avenue, Arsenal Street, and Canterbury Avenue you'll find Slay Park. Known as Ellendale Park up until 2009, this park was named after former Democratic politician, restaurateur, and father of the former mayor Francis G. Slay. This 9-acre park was placed into ordinance in 1926 and features shared trails, a tennis court, soccer field, and baseball fields along with a shared trail and playground.

Turtle Park
While technically a part of Forest Park, Turtle Park is an icon of the Clayton/Tamm neighborhood. Located across from Pat Connolly Tavern at the intersection of Oakland and Tamm Avenues, Turtle Playground contains seven concrete turtles and one snake. The turtles were designed and sculpted by Bob Cassilly and the park opened in August 1996.

You can also see works by Cassilly at the St. Louis Galleria, St. Louis Zoo, and the Missouri Botanical Garden and in other cities across the country such as Dallas and NYC.

Forrest Park
One of the greatest benefits of living in the 24th Ward is our proximity to Forrest Park. Our Hi-Pointe, Franz Park, and Clayton/Tamm neighborhoods are all a short distance from the 1,370 acres and all the amazing culture of Forrest Park. Dedicated in 1874 to coincide with the centenary of the U.S. Declaration of Independence it was also the site of the 1904 World's Fair.  

I could write a whole blog on the amazing features of Forrest Park, but my favorites aren't the sports courts, picnic areas, or playgrounds... you can find me in the Art Museum or on the trails.

Carolyn's campaign has started our community park clean-up events! We will visit these amazing parks leaving them a little cleaner than we found them. Follow us on Facebook or sign up to be on our email list to ensure you hear about these upcoming opportunities.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Your 24W Primary Ballot

Now that you've confirmed your voter registration, and figured out your plan to vote (in-person, absentee or mail-in) it's time to look at what's on your ballot.

You can look at the August 4th full combined ballot for Saint Louis City to see all the candidates/issues. In this Primary Election, you can choose from one of six ballot options, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, Constitution, or Non-partisan (issues only, no candidate) ballot. 

If you're looking at that combined city ballot (above) remember that on your ballot August 4th you'll: 
1. Only see the ballot for the party you select 
2. Only see the District and Ward races for where you live

Not sure which Congressional District, House District, or Ward you live in? You can look up your Representatives on the STL city website by checking the box "contacts and elected officials."

In this blog, I will focus on the Democratic ballot in my home ward, the 24th in St. Louis City.
The sample ballot shown below is abbreviated and has the races outside our ward screened-back.

This Primary Election has many candidates from the big congressional races, to statewide Missouri races, and down to the hyper-local partisan Committeepersons races in your ward.

We'll look at your 24th Ward Democratic ballot the way it will appear for you on August 4th, 2020:

Statewide Missouri Offices


Nicole Galloway - CPA and our current Missouri State Auditor, Galloway is the presumptive Democratic nominee. Galloway is currently the only statewide elected Democrat. Nicole has received the endorsement of Emily's List. The 24th Ward Progressive Democrats endorsed her as well.

Jimmy Matthews - You may know him from his unsuccessful bids for President of the Board of Alderman (2015 & 2019) and for Mayor (2017)

Antoin Johnson - n/a

Eric Morrison - Running on "I Got Five on It" Platform: Education, Equity, Equality, Ethics, Environment

Robin Van Quaethem - n/a

Galloway defeated Saundra McDowell (R) in 2018 to keep her post as Missouri State Auditor. McDowell is challenging current Governor, Mike Parson in the Republican Primary.

Lieutenant Governor

Gregory Upchurch  - From the St. Charles area, Small business owner.

Alissia Canady  - Former KC District 5 City Council Member, ran an unsuccessful bid for KC Mayor in 2019. She has received the endorsement of Emily's List. The 24th Ward Progressive Democrats endorsed her as well.

They will go on to face our current LG is Mike Kehoe (R) or one of the several other Republican challengers should he lose his Primary.

Secretary of State

Yinka Faleti - West Point Graduate, Army Veteran, Attorney, Former Executive Director Forward Through Ferguson. Yinka is running unopposed in the Primary and will challenge incumbent Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R) in November. Endorsed by the 24th Ward Progressive Democrats.

Missouri State Treasurer

Vicki Englund - Former State Rep. and Lindbergh School Board member, Englund is running unopposed in the primary and will face current Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick (R) in November. She has received the endorsement of Emily's List. The 24th Ward Progressive Democrats endorsed her as well.

Attorney General

Rich Finneran - Former federal prosecutor and an Assistant U.S. Attorney in St. Louis.

Elad Gross - Former Assistant Attorney General, you might have heard about his Fight Against Dark Money or the Eladpod where he interviews many other candidates and discusses current issues. The 24th Ward Progressive Democrats endorsed him.

Either Finneran or Gross will go on to challenge incumbent Eric Schmitt (R) who was appointed by Gov. Parson in November 2018 following Josh Hawley's election to the US Senate.

Congressional District 1

Lacy Clay - The incumbent serving since 2001, holding this seat by a District-wide vote of 56.7% to 36.9% over Bush in 2018.

Cori Bush - Grassroots activist and nurse who challenged Clay in 2018 and was featured in the documentary "Knock Down the House" alongside AOC, Amy Vilela (NV), and Paula Jean Swearengin (WV). Endorsed by the 24th Ward Progressive Democrats.

Katherine Bruckner - n/a

Bush won the 24th Ward in 2018 with 63.15% of the vote to Clay's 30.10% and that was with two other challengers (DeMarco Davidson & Joshua Shipp) in the race. This rematch will be one watch. Winner of this primary will face one of two Republican candidates in November.

Missouri House District Reps

State Rep District 83
(including parts of Clifton Heights, Ellendale, Franz Park neighborhoods)

Tyler Merkle - Local Attorney who has the endorsement of many labor unions as well as city and county leadership including 24W Committeeman Matt Sisul and 24W Alderman, Bret Narayan. The 24th Ward Progressive Democrats endorsed him as well.

Jo Doll - Elected to the Webster Groves School Board (2017) and a Licensed Physical Therapist, her platform heavy on Healthcare, Education, and Gun Safety. Doll has the endorsement of Gina Mitten.

HD83 is currently represented by Gina Mitten, who is term-limited. Either Merkle or Doll will go on to face Andrew Bolin (Libertarian) in November.

State Rep District 84
(including parts of Highpointe, Clayton-Tamm, and Cheltenham neighborhoods)

Wiley (Chip) Price IV – Current HD84 Representative who is running unopposed in the primary. 24th Ward Progressive Democrats endorsed.

STL City Races

Circuit Attorney

Kimberly M. Gardner - Serving as the St. Louis Circuit Attorney since 2017, Gardner is the first African-American to head the CAO. Gardner has a long, public history with the SLMPD and filed a civil rights lawsuit against them in January 2020. She was also a key player in the Former Gov. Eric Greitens investigation. The 24th Ward Progressive Democrats have endorsed Gardner.

Mary Pat Carl - Also serving as 16th Ward Committeewoman, Carl is challenging incumbent Gardner. She has been a lead homicide attorney and a prosecutor for 15 years in the Saint Louis area.

This is one of the more spirited races in STL city, as you can tell by this recent interaction between the candidates on a video conference. Either Gardner or Carl will face Daniel Zdrodowski (R) in November.


Vernon Betts -
Our current Sheriff, Betts is also running for 5th Ward Committeeman against Rasheen Aldridge.

Alfred Montgomery - Former Deputy Sheriff, Montgomery is looking to address some of the issues he says he's seen from within the department.  The 24th Ward Progressive Democrats have endorsed Montgomery.

David (Da) Mosley - Running on the platform: "Enough is Enough" and also running to be the 2nd Ward Committeeman against incumbent Larry Middlebrook.

The winner of the Democratic Primary will go on to face one of two Republican Sheriff candidates in November.


Tishaura O. Jones - Current STL City Treasurer and former Missouri House of Representatives Assistant Minority Floor Leader, Jones has launched the "Office of Financial Empowerment" (OFE) to help STL make better financial choices, and the College Kids Program to help public school students start educational savings accounts. Jones has been endorsed by the 24th Ward Progressive Democrats.

Jeffery L. Boyd - Current Alderman representing the 22nd Ward, Boyd is critical of Jones' OFE and has pledged to return the parking fund to the city administration should he be successful in his challenge.

Either Jones or Boyd will go on to face Robert Vroman (R) in November.

Ward-level Races

As elected representatives for the political party, this election that appears on the Primary ballot is THE election for committeepersons.
Committeeman Ward 24

Matt Sisul - Longtime President of the Ellendale Neighborhood Association, and our current Committeeman since he was appointed in October of 2019. Sisul is running unopposed in this race with the endorsement of the 24th Ward Progressive Democrats.

Committeewoman Ward 24

Carolyn McMahon - Author of this blog and Past-President of the 24th Ward Progressive Democrats, McMahon is running to improve communication and transparency between Central Committee and local Ward organizations with a pledge to help anyone who wants to be involved find a way to connect. Carolyn has the endorsement of current 24W Alderman, Bret Narayan, and the 24th Ward Progressive Democrats.

Teri Powers - Incumbent Committeewoman who was first appointed in 2010. Powers has a challenger for the first time this election after running unopposed in 2012 and 2016. 


Medicaid Expansion Initiative -  Constitutional Amendment 2
A YES vote on Amendment 2 will expand Medicaid in Missouri and bring more than a billion federal tax dollars back to our state and provide healthcare to 200,000 Missourians. A yes vote on Amendment 2 will make Missouri the 38th state (including DC) to have expanded Medicaid. You can also learn more at Missouri Healthcare for All. The 24th Ward Progressive Democrats have endorsed this initiative.

If you still have questions about registering to vote or how to request a mail-in or absentee ballot, check out my other blogs on those topics!

Remember to get out there and VOTE on August 4th!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Absentee Voting Options 2020 - STL City, MO

With some of the new absentee and mail-in options for voting in 2020, it might seem confusing to figure out what is best for you. 
Fortunately, the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition has put together this chart to help us figure it out. 

We'll look at your absentee/mail-in voting options in 4 easy steps:
1. What kind of ballot do I qualify for?
2. Where can I get that ballot request form?
4. What is the deadline to apply to vote absentee/mail-in?
3. Once I vote, will I need a Notary for my ballot? How do I find one?

1. What kind of ballot do I qualify for? 
For COVID-related excuses, you will qualify for under one of these options:
• Absentee Ballot under reason #2 or #7 (with qualifying condition)
• Mail-in Ballot (for any voter who doesn't qualify under #2 or #7 but prefers to vote absentee by mail)

Note: If you qualify to vote absentee under #2 or #7 you can also choose to vote absentee in person at the Board of Election office, 300 N. Tucker Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63101 until 5pm the day before the election. You can fill out your absentee request form and vote at the same time (providing the absentee voting is open for that election). Mail-in ballots can ONLY be returned by mail.

Combined Absentee/Mail-in Ballot Request Form (6.16.20)

2. Where can I get my ballot?
Both Absentee and Mail-in ballots can be requested in-person or by returning this combined Absentee and Mail-in Ballot Request Form to the Saint Louis Board of Election Commissioners, 300 N. Tucker Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63101. 

You can also submit the PDF form via email to stlcityabsentee@stlouis-mo.gov

NOTE: For the Primary you must mark which ballot you want. (Republican, Democrat, Constitution, Green, Libertarian, or Non-partisan - issues only) If this is your first time voting after a new voter registration by mail, you may also need to send a copy of your ID, see details on the form.

Now, if you're looking at an absentee ballot, it might be a good time to consider if getting on the Permanently Disabled Absentee Voter List makes sense for you. You can download the form to apply for the Permanently Disabled Voter List at this link. Once on this list, you will be delivered an absentee ballot application for every election you are eligible to vote in.

3. What is the deadline to apply for an absentee/mail-in ballot?
• August 4, 2020, Primary Election --> July 22, 2020 
• November 3, 2020, General Election  --> October 21, 2020

NOTE: Your application must be received by the Board of Election on that date to have your ballot sent to you. You can still vote absentee in-person up to 5pm the day before the election for any of the 7 approved absentee excuses. Mail-in ballots MUST be returned by mail.

4. When I vote, do I need to sign my ballot envelope in the presence of a Notary Public?
• If you vote absentee under excuse #2 or #7, your ballot DOES NOT require a Notary to return.
• If you're on the Permanently Disabled Absentee Voter list, your ballot DOES NOT require a Notary to return.
• All Mail-in ballots DO REQUIRE a notary to sign your ballot envelope to be counted.
• Any other absentee excuses (#1, 3, 4, 5, 6) DO REQUIRE a notary in most cases.

Where can I find a Notary Public?
• The Missouri Voter Protection Coalition and the ACLU are organizing a notary hub to make it easy to connect to a local notary. 
• Notaries by law can't charge for notary services on a ballot but some notaries may charge a travel/mileage fee as that is separate from the Notary fee itself. 
• You can search for a Notary on the Secretary of State website
• Check with your local bank, most have Notaries who will provide services to customers
• The MO Secretary of State has created an Online directory of Volunteer Notaries
DEADLINE TO RETURN BALLOTS: Ballots must be received by the Board of Election by 7pm on Election Day.

If you're a Notary and want to help voters, you can join the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition Notary Coordination Hub

**There is a pending case with the ACLU (among others) with the Missouri Supreme Court to waive this notary requirement, we should have the ruling soon, but you should prepare to find a notary in the event that they are unsuccessful. You can listen to the oral arguments here.**

This blog is meant to be a top-level look at absentee voting in St. Louis city. The Saint Louis Board of Election Commissioners has more detail on all the absentee and mail-in voting options for 2020 on their website. The MO Secretary of State website has additional information including their summaries of the types of ballots as well. 

Also, please follow the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition on Facebook or sign up for text alerts: Text MOVPC to 66866.

No matter how you vote, be sure to make your voice heard this and every Election Day. 

Monday, June 8, 2020

Register MO Voters

Before we start talking about absentee voting in Missouri, we need to make sure EVERYONE who is eligible to vote is REGISTERED to VOTE! 

Check Your Own Voter Registration. Seriously, even if you vote in every election. It's like the safety procedures on an airplane, first, check your own registration before you help others. Check your registration here.

2020 MO Voter Registration Deadlines:
For August 4, 2020, Primary Election --> Deadline is July 8, 2020
For November 3, 2020, General Election --> Deadline is October 7, 2020

Who Can Register?
Missouri voters must be United States citizens & Missouri Residents aged 18 or older.

When Should You Register?
• When you turn 18 (or at age 17.5 if you will turn 18 by Election Day)
• When you attain eligibility by becoming a US citizen or regain eligibility by getting "off paper" from a felony conviction
• When you move to Missouri from another state
• When you move between counties/election jurisdictions within Missouri (Example: If you move from St. Louis City to St. Louis County, you are no longer registered to vote and must re-register)
• Voters must register at least 4 weeks prior to the election date in order to be eligible to vote in that election (see deadlines above). There are limited exceptions for people who move after the voter registration deadline; those people should contact their local election authority or 1-866-OUR-VOTE (a non-partisan voter help hotline)

Keep Your Registration Current!
You should always be registered to vote at the address where you currently live, so make sure you submit address changes to the election authority (or re-register if necessary) every time you move.

Information provided by the St. Louis Metro Area League of Women Voters and the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition. I suggest following both of these organizations and The St. Louis Area Voter Protection Coalition for up-to-date voter information. 


1. Register voters on your own
Anyone can register voters providing you are at least 18 years old and a registered voter in Missouri BUT, you need to fill out the Registration Form for Voter Registration Solicitors and file with the Missouri Secretary of State. You are required to submit this every election cycle, which basically means every two years after the General Elections. 

Ask those around you if they're registered and have checked their registration. Friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers. Get into the habit of asking those you contact throughout your day if they're registered to vote, and if they're not, let them know how they can do so. And remember, Missouri is an open primary state so you do not register with a particular party when you register to vote.

2. Register voters with one of these organizations
Show Me Votes (Missouri Democratic Party)
You can search by county, house district, state senate district or congressional district to "adopt" voters who are not registered to vote. Just $2/voter will help fund the MO Democratic Party outreach to those likely voters and help them get registered. Fundraising through ActBlue makes it easy to support.

Rock the Vote
As the coronavirus pandemic disrupts the course of the 2020 election, Rock The Vote is spear-heading a summer-long initiative aimed at registering 200,000 new voters. The effort, "Democracy Summer" will include a series of trainings, campaigns, and events to register, organize and mobilize young voters. You can read more from CNN about this initiative.

Vote Save America
Created by Cooked Media, this site has a bunch of great resources to get involved with voter registration. I'm a big fan of the Adopt a Battleground State campaign that's focused on key states needed to win in November.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Joining the Fight Against Racism

From right here in St. Louis to what we're seeing in Minneapolis, it's clear that racism is a problem. I think that many of us feel outraged but aren't sure where to start to be good allies and to help make our communities more equitable for all. 

As with so many complex issues, there are many ways to provide support both during times of unrest and every day. 

Photo credit: Richard Reilly

Community Support

Reclaim the Block - Community-Lead Safety Solutions in Minneapolis.

OBS - Organization for Black Struggle, STL - A group of veteran activists, students, union organizers and community members in St. Louis were seeking to address the needs and issues of the Black working-class. There are a number of great community resources on their website as well.

(Real Local Control and Effective Civilian Review) A grassroots movement fighting to ensure that local control of St. Louis police are based on the principles of citizen input and transparency.

Action St. Louis - A grassroots racial justice organization that seeks to build political power for Black communities in the St. Louis region. Action St. Louis builds campaigns that leverage organizing, communications, advocacy and direct action to mitigate harm against our community while fighting for long term transformation. Campaigns include Close the Workhouse, #WokeVoterSTL, Political Action, #WeCount314.

Jamaa Birth Village - A non-profit Midwifery, Doula & Maternal Health organization located in Ferguson, Missouri, and serving the greater St. Louis metro area.

The Sweet And - Mutual Aid Fund in St. Louis - Support the Sweet & Queer Solidarity Fund.

For the Culture STL - Directory of Black-owned businesses in Saint Louis you should support and community events.

Northstar Health Collective (Minneapolis, MN) - Mutual aid directory and resources for activists including support for street medics.

Potbangerz  (STL) - Fight injustice by uplifting the community, meeting nutritional needs, helping our unhoused families navigate their way to permanent housing, and advocating for them when they need it the most.

Black Visions Collective (MN) - Since 2017, Black Visions Collective, has been putting into practice the lessons learned from organizations before us in order to shape a political home for Black people across Minnesota.

Jail and Activist Support

Minnesota Freedom Fund - Bail support for Minneapolis.

Cleanup GoFundMe - Grassroots GoFundMe to assist with cleanup in Minneapolis.

Saint Louis Jail and Legal Support - Volunteer attorneys, legal workers, and community members committed to protecting the rights of people arrested when protesting for social justice in St. Louis.

National Lawyers Guild, STL - Has been working, through the courts and in the streets, to defend the rights of public assembly and public protest. You may know them by the green Legal Observer caps around actions.

STL Street Medics - publishing great resources for safety and medical aid while at protests.

Bail Funds & Legal Help by City - full list of jail support for cities across the U.S.

Supplies and Masks (MN) - Paypal donation link for Racial Justice Network.

Arch City Defenders (STL) - Legal support in Saint Louis.

Bail Funds - Nationwide - You can donate through ActBlue and have your donation split among 40 separate community bail funds throughout the country.

Anti-Racist Resources

Anti-Racist Organizing Collective - STL, Providing a joint analysis with organizers of color in the Justice Institute and our Accountability Team which can result in a set of shared beliefs in guiding our anti-racist organizing work. Many great resources and recommended readings on their site.

Anti-Racism Resources
- Document compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein in May 2020 – This is a great resource of recommended reading, blogs, movies, and organizations to follow. 

26 Ways to Be in the Struggle Beyond the Streets - Video resource for other ways to get involved.

5 ways to support Black Americans if you can't protest in person - Great list of other ways to get involved if protesting isn't a good fit for you. 

Media/Voices to Amplify in STL

St. Louis American - the leading, most-trusted voice of the area’s African-American community in Saint Louis.

Real STL News - We are an online news media outlet that concentrates on Saint Louis City and its surrounding areas. Real STL News is a team of community advocates that passionately bring awareness to the community of what is happening around Saint Louis.

Expect US - This page is for us organizers to connect with others and build bridges and connect with people in STL.

Teaching Children About Racism and Equality

Eye See Me - Our mission is to be a resource to parents, teachers, and schools in providing the very best children’s books on the market that promote positive images and stories about African American culture and history.

Your Kids Aren't too Young to Talk about Race -  Great list of resources for parents about how to educate children about race.

We Stories We Stories is a catalyst for change - in conversations, awareness, and choices: In Kids, Parents and Families; Communities, schools, institutions, and ultimately, in St. Louis.