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Former State Sen. Rita Heard Days Wins Democratic Nomination For County Council Seat

Former State Senator Rita Heard Days speaks after being named the Democratic nominee for the vacant 1st District seat on the St. Louis County Council. Days will run against Republican Sarah Davoli on Aug. 6.
Nicolas Telep | St. Louis Public Radio
Former state Sen. Rita Heard Days speaks after being named the Democratic nominee for the vacant 1st District seat on the St. Louis County Council. Days will run against Republican Sarah Davoli on Aug. 6.

St. Louis County Democrats have picked former state Sen. Rita Heard Days to run for the vacant 1st District County Council seat in an August special election.

At a meeting Thursday evening, a committee consisting of two Democrats from each of the eight townships within the north St. Louis County district chose Days over three other candidates. She will run for the seat previously held by Hazel Erby, who resigned last month to join County Executive Sam Page’s administration.

The contentious road to the nomination included a lawsuit between Democrats.

Last week, St. Louis County Democratic Party Chair Mary Elizabeth Dorsey and County Councilwoman Rochelle Walton Gray of the 4th District both scheduled meetings to nominate a candidate for the special election. Walton Gray and a group of her supporters, called Unity, filed a lawsuit seeking to stop Dorsey’s meeting.

Walton Gray’s assistant and Unity member Anthony Weaver said the organization argued the meeting to nominate a candidate must be called by someone on the committee within the district.

Walton Gray scheduled her meeting for June 15. Dorsey argued most committee members would not be available at that time and scheduled the Thursday evening meeting.

After the legal challenge from Unity, committee member Karen Pierre of Normandy Township scheduled a meeting at the same time as Dorsey’s meeting and Dorsey withdrew her meeting plan.

The Thursday meeting in University City began with a disagreement among members over whether Weaver’s son, Anthony Weaver, Jr., also a member of Unity, was eligible to vote for the nominee. The committee eventually decided the younger Weaver was not eligible because he moved outside the township he was to represent. Unity members also made an unsuccessful attempt to make Walton Gray chair of the committee.

Unity’s preferred candidate, James Cotter, withdrew his name from consideration during the meeting. Days eventually got 10 of the 15 votes. Former state Rep. Clem Smith got five votes, and no committee members voted for Luke Barber or Terry Wilson.

Anthony Weaver said even though Days is not Unity’s first choice, the group will support her in the general election.

“We’re prepared to work with her,” he said.

Days will face Republican nominee Sarah Davoli in the general election. Even though the district is heavily Democratic, Days said she will still have to raise money and knock on doors to win the council seat.

Days also said she wants to move beyond the controversy that has rocked the county executive’s office in recent months.

“We need to restore the integrity to St. Louis County,” Days said. “We are the economic engine of the state, so we need to make sure that we have our ship in order.”

Also on Aug. 6, voters in the 2nd District will pick a replacement for Page, who became county executive after Steve Stenger resigned after being indicted. In that district, Democrat Kelli Dunaway, a Chesterfield lawyer, will face off with Republican Amy Poelker, an alderwoman from St. Ann, and Creve Coeur Mayor Barry Glantz, who is running as an independent.

Follow Nicolas on Twitter: @NDTelep

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