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Murphy May Have Inside Track For Soon-To-Be-Vacant 13th Ward Seat

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

As St. Louis Alderman Fred Wesselsprepares to leave his post to lead the city’s Community Development Association, a long-time committeewoman is primed to take his aldermanic seat. 

Beth Murphy told St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon that she would seek the Democratic nomination for 13th Ward aldermanic seat. Wessels is expected to resign his post in early February, which would likely trigger a special election in April.

Murphy has served as the 13th Ward’s committeewoman since the mid-1990s. She’s taught in St. Louis and St. Louis County schools for nearly three decades and has been active in the ward's civic and business organizations.

She said that serving as alderwoman for the ward that includes neighborhoods such as Holly Hills, Southampton, Boulevard Heights and Carondelet would be the “next level of service” in helping the ward thrive.

“I have done more service in this ward probably than anyone I could think of,” Murphy said. “I have painted buildings. I have painted bridges. I’ve held organize and run house tours. I mean, you name it – I’ve done it.”

“If I had a nickel for every time I did a Carondelet Park cleanup, I’d be rich,” she added. “I love this city and I love my area.”

Since Wessels is resigning, the city’s Democratic Central Committee will pick the Democratic nominee for a special election. One factor in Murphy’s favor is that she has the endorsement of13thWard Committeeman Michael Dauphin. The city’s Democratic Central Committee ultimately decides on the nominee, but traditionally the committee acquiesces to whomever the ward committeepeople favor.

Murphy said she has the backing of Wessels, Collector of Revenue Gregory F.X. Daly, state Rep. Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis, and state Rep. Michele Kratky, D-St. Louis. 

If she wins in the special election, Murphy said she would want to be involved in the long-term planning for Carondelet Park. She said wants to use her aldermanic “bully-pulpit’ to help make public schools in and around the 13th Ward attractive for families. And she also said she wants to attract small businesses, such as craft breweries, to the ward.

Describing herself as a “team player,” Murphy said she wants to collaborate with other aldermen and city officials to help build up all parts of the city.

“What’s good for the city is good for my ward,” Murphy said. “The 16th Ward, the 12th Ward and my ward – we are not going to survive if we’re little islands and downtown looks like Detroit. So we have to get over some of that parochialism and we have to work together. And that means helping the north side, even though sometimes it seems like the south side doesn’t want to. … We have to do those things.”

Murphy could face Republican and independent candidates in the special election, although whoever receives the Democratic nomination will be heavily favored. The winner in the special election will have to run again for the seat in 2015. 

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.