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Steve Conway resigns as 8th Ward alderman to become St. Louis assessor

Steve Conway, who represented St. Louis' 8th Ward for 27 years, resigned Monday to become the city assessor.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
Steve Conway, who represented St. Louis' 8th Ward for 27 years, resigned Monday to become the city assessor.

Updated at 4:25 p.m. Nov. 27 with comments from Conway — A 27-year veteran of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen has resigned to become the city’s assessor.

Krewson’s office announced Monday morning that Alderman Steve Conway, D-8th Ward, would replace St. Louis assessor Freddie Dunlap, who recently retired. The assessor determines property values in the city.

“Steve’s experience in government, his acumen and his passion for the City make him the ideal candidate for this position,” Krewson said in a statement. “The Assessor is a serious position that requires someone with Steve’s commitment. I couldn’t be more happy that he is taking on this role.”

Conway, the son of former St. Louis Mayor James Conway, has represented the 8th Ward since November 1990, and was third in seniority at the board. He said he has accomplished most of the things he wanted to over those 27 years.

“Look at what we’ve done on South Grand and Vandeventer,” he said, referring to two main streets that run through the 8th Ward. “We've brought more businesses into the city and into the neighborhoods, stabilized the housing crisis, reduced the nuisance properties, decreased crime every year for the past decade or so. There are probably one or two final challenges. One is to expand the [South Grand] business district from Arsenal all the way down to Highway 44. And I would like to see the Kingshighway Bridge open all the way.”

Conway will take over the assessor’s office as it implements two new computer programs that will help it set property values across the city. That will make information easier to access, Conway said, and help shape development and bring businesses into the city.

“People can make determinations that these areas are going to be positively impacted. We can also demonstrate that the areas where there may or may not have been tax abatement, how much the property values now have come on the rolls.”

In addition to his elected service, Conway is a lawyer and an accountant. He’s been the chief financial officer for Imo’s since 2004, a position he will leave to become assessor. He had chaired the Ways and Means committee, which handles the city’s budget.

Conway faced no opposition in his 2007 and 2011 contests. But in 2015, he beat his challenger, Kevin McKinney, by less than 100 votes. Recently, he found himself at odds with his ward on key issues. Conway had endorsed Krewson in the Democratic primary, but his ward voted soundly for city Treasurer Tishaura Jones. In addition, he had supported Proposition P, a half-cent sales tax increase that will help fund raises for police and firefighters. The 8th Ward was one of four wards to vote against the issue.

Conway’s resignation sets up a special election to fill the remainder of his term. The city’s Democratic Central Committee will pick the party’s candidate, but others can enter as Republican, third-party or independent challengers. No date has been set for that new election.

Conway is the second alderman to leave the board for a position in the Krewson administration. Dionne Flowers resigned in August to become the register, the city’s top record-keeper.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.