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Four St. Louis aldermen file lawsuit over Proposition R

A sign advocating for the passing of Proposition R on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Tower Grove South.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
A sign advocating for the passing of Proposition R on April 5 in Tower Grove South.

Several members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen are filing a lawsuit to try to prevent Proposition R from going into effect.

The proposition creates a citizens commission to draw city wards and also tightens ethics and conflict-of-interest requirements for aldermen. It passed with almost 70% of the vote in April’s municipal elections.

The four aldermen named as plaintiffs are Marlene Davis, Carol Howard, John Collins Muhammad and Jack Coatar.

The suit takes issue with multiple aspects of the amendment, including process-focused criticisms of how the measure was passed and arguments that the ethics requirements are too broad and vague.

“It does a lot more than just catch corruption that folks have an interest in rooting out,” said Sam Gladney, an attorney for the group of aldermen. “It also catches anybody that has any tie to the City of St Louis as a member of the board, and the impact on legislating there is going to be really chilling.”

Opponents also say that the requirements for members of the redistricting commission are too narrow and that the positions will be difficult to fill.

Advocates for the proposition say the vote’s large margin shows voters broadly support the measure.

“The people of St. Louis spoke loudly and clearly when 70% of St. Louisans voted yes on Proposition R for reform,” said Benjamin Singer, CEO of Show Me Integrity, a group that advocated for the ballot initiative. “It's very specific. It's not overly broad. It is written based on best practices from other cities.”

The lawsuit is asking for injunctive and declaratory relief, which would essentially prevent the measure from being implemented.

Follow Kate on Twitter: @Kate Grumke

Kate Grumke covers the environment, climate and agriculture for St. Louis Public Radio and Harvest Public Media.