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St. Louis aldermen bid farewell to Navarro, re-up mask mandate

Alderwoman Heather Navarro, D-28th Ward
Jason Rosenbaum
St. Louis Public Radio
Heather Navarro, shown in 2017 when she first ran for office, attended her final meeting Friday as alderwoman. She has taken a new job at Washington University

Heather Navarro has ended her time as a St. Louis elected official.

“I just want to tell you all what an honor it has been to serve not only the 28th Ward, but also the city of St. Louis, and to work alongside each of you,” Navarro said Friday at her final meeting as alderwoman. “To do this job well, you have to care deeply about our city and the people who call it home, and I know that each of you do.”

Navarro, who has represented the 28th Ward since July 2017, will officially resign her post on Monday to take a job with Washington University’s Midwest Climate Collaborative. She was originally elected to fill a seat left vacant by former Mayor Lyda Krewson’s election, then ran for a full term in 2019.

Navarro was a leading voice on environmental issues during her 4½ years as alderwoman, but she said she was equally as proud of her work on drawing a map that took the city from 28 wards to 14. She told her colleagues that “she would be watching, probably not from Zoom on Friday mornings,” to make sure they completed the work of downsizing in an equitable and fair manner.

Colleagues like Alderwoman Shameem Clark Hubbard, who represents the neighboring 26th Ward, said they appreciated Navarro’s willingness to take principled stands while also listening to the other side.

“In a ward, and in wards that have so many divides in them, I think that we definitely showed that we can be connected, and we can work together,” Hubbard said.

Twenty-second Ward Alderman Jeffrey Boyd said he used to tell people who found Navarro to be an unreliable vote on issues that she would always vote her conscience.

“And I think those should be guiding principles for all of us that serve as elected officials,” he said.

A special election to fill Navarro’s seat must be held sometime in April.

Mask order renewed

Aldermen on Friday voted unanimously to renew the city’s public health order on masks for another 21 days. The order requires everyone over age 5 to wear a mask while inside public spaces or on public transportation.

Alderwoman Sharon Tyus of the 1st Ward urged health officials to get the renewal resolutions to the board sooner so there was no rush to get them approved.

“I don’t want to give the people at the state even one day of satisfaction that we don’t have this,” she said, a reference to Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s lawsuits challenging masking orders and mandates in St. Louis and St. Louis County.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

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