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Wahby to step down as city Democratic Party chair

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 21, 2012 - St. Louis Democratic Party chairman Brian Wahby plans to step down this evening, saying that eight years is plenty in the city's top political post.

Wahby, 46, plans to stay on as 7th Ward Democratic committeeman -- to which he won re-election on Aug. 7 -- and to stay on as a Missouri at-large delegate on the Democratic National Committee. His wife, Robbyn Wahby, is a top aide for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.

Wahby will formally announce his plans, and be replaced, at Tuesday night's meeting of the city's 56 ward committeemen and committeewomen. His successor could be 2nd Ward Committeewoman Mattie Moore, who is the party's vice chair.

Being city party chairman is "a tremendous investment of time," Wahby said, adding that he needed to spend more time with his family and in his real estate and redevelopment profession.

Wahby lost his bid on Aug. 7 to win the city's Democratic nomination for city treasurer, after a blistering four-way contest that found him the target of brutal attacks. State Rep. Tishaura Jones won the nomination and is the likely victor in November.

Wahby said in an interview that he had made his decision to step down from the political post several months ago, although he acknowledged that his treasurer loss may have played a role. "No decisions are made in a vacuum," Wahby said. "But I was already leaning toward not running again."

He said that he was proud of his campaign, adding that it had been "a fantastic experience for my family."

Wahby cited a number of Democratic successes on a state and regional level in which he said the city Democratic organization had played a role. He said he is particularly proud of his involvement in the successful effort for St. Louis to host in 2010 the DNC's summer meeting -- which included an appearance by Vice President Joe Biden -- and St. Louis' runnerup status as the site of this summer's Democratic National Convention, which will be in Charlotte, N.C., in a couple weeks.

"We came within an inch of being selected," Wahby said, adding that he believes St. Louis is in prime position to be chosen as the site for the Democratic presidential convention in 2016.

Regarding his tenure as city Democratic chief and being an unsuccessful treasurer candidate, Wahby said he also believed he had offered some new ideas that may take root.

"I think we planted some seeds about policy in this region, and in improving the environment and sustainability in St. Louis," he said. "We talked about reforming the government of this city and this region."

"With the right decisions, Wahby added, "St. Louis is poised to reclaim its rightful place as one of the nation's greatest cities."

Even without the city political title, he hopes and expects to be involved in such efforts.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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