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Airport Privatization Proponent Drops Effort To Recall St. Louis Alderwoman

St. Louis Alderwoman Cara Spencer, D-20th Ward, says a circulating petition to recall her from office is "intimidation" from airport privatization proponents.
Carolina Hidalgo
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Alderwoman Cara Spencer, D-20th Ward, says a circulating petition to recall her from office is "intimidation" from airport privatization proponents.

A consultant linked to airport privatization efforts in St. Louis said Tuesday he’s not moving forward with a petition campaign to recall an alderwoman who has been critical of the idea, at least not yet.

LeJuan Strickland collected about 1,900 signatures in an effort to oust Alderwoman Cara Spencer, D-20th Ward, from office. He earmarked $10,000 of his own money, using his company Metropolitan Strategies and Solutions, to collect the signatures from 20th Ward residents.

About two weeks ago, Strickland said he had collected more than the required 1,139 signatures— or 20% of registered voters in the 20th Ward as per the last mayoral election. But he hadn’t decided when to submit them to the St. Louis Board of Elections. At the time, he said he hoped to get the issue on the Nov. 3 ballot — when residents across the city are expected to weigh in on whether the city should lease St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

Strickland, who is Black, previously said he launched the campaign because Spencer, who is white, doesn’t reflect the interests of her majority minority ward. But Spencer, who won her seat last year with 70% of the vote, has said the campaign was an intimidation tactic for speaking out against airport privatization efforts.

Strickland advised St. Louis officials last year as they considered leasing Lambert, and earlier this year his company helped gather signatures to get the airport privatization petition on the November ballot.

After meeting with Spencer last Thursday, Strickland said that the two still don’t agree about what’s best for the airport but that they were able to come to a “mutual understanding.”

“For the folks who signed the petition, I did talk about the issues we saw firsthand walking in that neighborhood, and I think Alderwoman Spencer will address them or will come up with a plan to address them hopefully in the future,” he said. “And if not, like I said, the petition is never off the table.”

Strickland declined to share more details regarding the content of the private meeting.

Spencer, who is also running for mayor, said Tuesday the regional community has been “overwhelmingly supportive” of her role over the past few weeks and her stance on privatization in particular.

“Well, I’m disappointed to learn that Mr. Strickland is going to keep the petition looming over my head as an intimidation tactic moving forward despite having a productive meeting,” she said.

If Strickland changes his mind, he would need to submit signatures to the Board of Elections by mid-September if he hopes to get the issue before 20th Ward voters on Nov. 3.

If he falls short on timing for that election but has enough verified signatures, the Board of Elections would schedule a special election between 30 and 90 days later.

Corinne is the economic development reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.