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After decades of contemplation and debate, a group known as Better Together is recommending an end to the “Great Divorce” between St. Louis and St. Louis County.Better Together is proposing an ambitious plan to create a unified metro government and police department and limit municipalities' ability to levy sales taxes. The plan would be decided through a statewide vote.Proponents contend it will scrape away layers of local government that has been holding the St. Louis region back. Opponents believe the plan will create an unwieldy and large centralized government that could be implemented against the will of city and county residents.

St. Louis Aldermen Plan Recall Of Krewson Over Her Support For Better Together

Brandon Bosley thanks his family and friends as aldermen introduced their special guests.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Two St. Louis aldermen are launching a petition to recall Mayor Lyda Krewson, saying she is not doing enough to protect the interests of the city in the debate over consolidation.

“She cannot continue to be the chief executive voice within the city and be trying to dissolve the city at the same time,” said Alderman Brandon Bosley, D-3rd Ward.

Under Better Together’s proposal, the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County would cease to exist as separate governments. The combined area would be represented by a metropolitan mayor — a role County Executive Steve Stenger would hold at first — and a 33-person council. Every elected position in the city would be eliminated, although Krewson would serve as a transitional mayor.

A number of political leaders, including Bosley and John Collins-Muhammad, D-21st Ward, are concerned about the potential loss of black political power under the proposed metro government. Krewson’s support for the initiative, Bosley said, is just another way that Better Together’s backers are attempting to silence opponents.

“The only way to make sure that St. Louis city residents have a seat at the table is by removing those who are keeping them from having a seat at the table and then opening up the doors so everybody can come in,” Bosley said.

He said a new group, Citizens to Protect St. Louis, has a broader plan that goes beyond the recall, but he did not elaborate.

In a statement, Krewson acknowledged that change is hard, but called the recall effort “more internal fussing.”

“We are losing ground every day because we spend our time fussing among ourselves,” she said. “The real competition is between St. Louis and Nashville, St. Louis and Louisville, St. Louis and Indianapolis, or Kansas City, or Austin, or Denver.”

Better Together said it wasn’t surprising that opposition to its proposal "continues to come from politicians trying to keep their taxpayer-funded jobs while offering no solutions of their own,” and applauded Krewson for “selflessly supporting the proposal.”

Recalling the mayor is a tough endeavour. To get on the ballot, the city’s charter requires signatures from 20 percent of the registered voters in at least 19 of the city’s 28 wards, and more than 39,000 signatures total. That’s 20 percent of the number of registered voters in April 2017, the last mayoral election. Once it’s on the ballot, a recall vote takes a simple majority.

The city’s Democratic elections director, Steve Capizzi, said officials could not remember a successful mayoral recall, though several aldermen have been ousted that way.

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