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Politically Speaking: Bell expounds on bid for St. Louis County prosecutor

Ferguson Councilman Wesley Bell
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
Ferguson Councilman Wesley Bell

Ferguson City Councilman Wesley Bell comes back to the Politically Speaking podcast to talk about the race for St. Louis County prosecutor.

The Democratic official is taking on incumbent St. Louis Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, one of the longest serving local officials in the entire state. Because no Republican signed up to run, the winner of the Aug. 7 primary will serve a four-year term.

Bell is an attorney and college professor who was elected to the Ferguson City Council in 2015. The races for three council seats got outsized national attention, when they occurred just months after a Ferguson police officer shot and killed Michael Brown.

Before running for the Ferguson post, Bell unsuccessfully sought a St. Louis County Council seat. He has experience as a municipal judge and prosecutor, and has played a major role in setting up the North County Police Cooperative, which serves seven municipalities in north St. Louis County.

While McCulloch has raised the most money in the race, Bell has received more financial support than any other prosecutorial contender in years. He’s also received support from several national groups, including Color of Change, and backing from a number of township organizations.

Here’s what Bell had to say during the show:

  • If he’s elected, Bell would make sure certain assistant prosecutors were assigned to specific parts of St. Louis County. “I want them to be familiar with the communities that they’re representing,” Bell said. “What Chesterfield needs is not what Wellston needs is not what Ferguson needs.”
  • Asked about how he would be able to combat McCulloch’s experience as prosecutor, Bell replied: “The head prosecutor drives policy and the culture of the office. There’s a lot of good attorneys in there. But what the prosecutor does decide is what direction that office is going to go in, what we’re going to prosecute and what we’re not.”
  • Bell said the St. Louis County prosecutor should take a leadership role in areas that are not in their direct jurisdiction. “If I get the honor of serving as the next county prosecutor, I believe that everyone should have access to quality and affordable health care,” he said. “I’m going to use my platform to push for those things. And you say ‘that might not connect to the county prosecutor’s office.’ Well, healthy communities are safer communities.”
  • He said he’s heartened that he’s been able to get township endorsements from all over the county, as well as some national organizations that are interested in the contest.

McCulloch is slated to record an episode of Politically Speaking in the coming days.
Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Follow Wesley Bell on Twitter: @Bell4STL

Music: “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Metallica

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
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.
Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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