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Politically Speaking: Alderwoman Baringer on voter turnout and police oversight board

On this week’s edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio reporters Jason Rosenbaum, Jo Mannies and Rachel Lippmann welcome St. Louis Alderwoman Donna Baringer to the show.

The 16th Ward Democrat was first elected to her post in 2003, succeeding longtime Alderman Jim Shrewsbury. Before taking on her current job as the executive director of Lemay Development Corp. earlier this year, Baringer was the director of institutional advancement for United 4 Children. A native of Jefferson City, Baringer has a master’s degree in corporate communications from Lindenwood University and a bachelor’s degree in business management from Maryville University.

The ward is in southwest St. Louis and covers all or parts of the Lindenwood Park, Princeton Heights, Southhampton and St. Louis Hills neighborhoods. 

Baringer is the chairman of the aldermanic legislation committee, which, in recent years, handled major bills on campaign finances and government transparency. In 2011, she successfully pushed legislation to curtail scrap metal theft within the city.

Baringer with St. Louis Public Radio reporter Jo Mannies
Credit Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio
Baringer with St. Louis Public Radio reporter Jo Mannies

  During the show, Baringer talked about:

  • The dismal turnout in this March’s Democratic primaries. Many have attributed the low participation — 9.5 percent — to Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed's lack of any credible opposition.
  • The need to deliver basic services. Voters are less concerned, she said, about a candidate’s political party than whether they can deliver basic governmental services. “Nobody cares if you’re a Republican or Democrat as long as the trash is picked up, the streets are cleaned, and the lights are on,” Baringer said.
  • How a proposed oversight board of the St. Louis Police Department might operate. Specifically, Baringer worried that potential board members may not be protected from lawsuits — which in turn may make people hesitant to serve on such a board.
  • Extending bonds for a football stadium on the city’s north riverfront without a vote of the people. “The one thing I told my constituents then is if they’re going to use your tax dollars to build a new stadium, then you have a right to vote on it because it’s your tax dollars,” she said.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter:@jmannies

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Follow Donna Baringer on Twitter: @udmcb

Music: "War on War" by Wilco

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.
Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.