Muni Election Results: Clayton Splits On Props; U City Firefighters In Campaign Controversy
Clayton voters decided to split the difference when it came to four ballot propositions, passing two and rejecting two. Propositions A and C would have raised the sales tax, while Props B and D allowed the city to issue bonds for various projects.
- Proposition A: Prop A raises the sales tax by one quarter of one cent (to an overall rate of 8.863 cents) to pay for fire and ambulance services. It passed with 67 percent of the vote.
- Proposition B: Prop B allows the city to issue $15 million in bonds to pay for street improvements and maintenance. It passed with 69 percent of the vote.
- Proposition C: Prop C would have raised the sales tax (one quarter of 1 percent) to pay for economic development programs. It lost by a handful of votes — 1,426 voted in favor, while 1,431 voted against.
- Proposition D: Prop D would have allowed the city to issue $12.6 million in bonds to pay for a new outdoor ice rink and recreation center. It failed, and needed a little more than 57 percent to pass, but only reached 47 percent.
"We have a lot of ideas, but need the money to actually execute our ideas," Cynthia Garnholz, the alderwoman for Clayton's 2nd Ward said. Garnholz supported the four propositions.
"I think it's a lot to ask of our voters, for tax increases," she said, speaking before the polls were closed. "But Clayton residents have proven time and time again that they care deeply about the well-being and future of their city."
Twelve percent of registered St. Louis County voters turned out to the polls. Typically fewer than one out of five voters votes in Missouri's April elections, when the public elects local leaders, school board members and approves tax and bond issues. This election lacked the kind of marquee races and ballot issues that would bring people to the polls.
Many elected officials ran unopposed. In Clayton, for example, none of the aldermen up for re-election had opponents. In University City and Webster Groves, neither mayor had an opponent.
This year, many of the highest profile races were actually for school board — which St. Louis Public Radio reporters Tim Lloyd and Dale Singer have covered extensively. You can read the results of Normandy's and Ferguson-Florissant's races here.
The most controversial development on Election Day may have come when six University City firefighters were told that they were losing their jobs due to their appearance in a campaign photo, according to the union's vice president.
This occurred "despite the fact that they were off duty, not in University City, not in front of a UCFD fire truck, not in uniform, and not identifiable in any way as employees of University City," Kurt Becker of local 2665 wrote in an email to University City Mayor Shelley Welsch. Becker said it was a tremendous concern.
Missouri statute states:
67.145. No political subdivision of this state shall prohibit any first responder, as the term first responder is defined in section 192.800, from engaging in any political activity while off duty and not in uniform, being a candidate for elected or appointed public office, or holding such office unless such political activity or candidacy is otherwise prohibited by state or federal law.
Lehman Walker, city manager of University City, said the city was "reviewing the situation" and state statute to see if any violation was committed. Walker said the firefighters were not told that they would be terminated. He added that he and the fire chief expected to resolve the situation in the next few days.
Becker has asked the mayor to make a public statement condemning the potential discipline. As of Tuesday evening, he said he had not heard back from the mayor's office.
Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel