Green officially takes over as president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen officially has its first woman president.
Megan Green ascended to the position Friday, 10 days after winning a special election with 55% of the vote. She will fill out the last five months of Lewis Reed’s term. He resigned in June after being indicted in a federal corruption scandal and will be sentenced Dec. 6.
“Colleagues, we have a lot of work to do in front of us,” Green said after she was sworn in. “This board is emerging from the shadow of its worst scandal. We all have a long way to go to restore the people’s trust in their representatives.”
She pledged to run a board built on mutual trust and respect, a contrast to how many believed Reed handled his duties.
“I am here for the hard conversations, the laughs and the work we all must do to build a St. Louis that works for everyone,” she said.
Green has planned a full agenda that includes goals as basic as doing a better job of picking up trash and as sweeping as boosting racial and gender equality in the city. But the hope that a change in leadership would heal the divisions on the board was quickly thrown into doubt over potential changes to the rules that govern the body.
Currently, the rules give the board president the sole power to select members of committees, though aldermen can lobby for particular assignments. On Friday, Alderwoman Sharon Tyus of the 1st Ward proposed several changes that would put the power of choosing committee members in the hands of a triumvirate of people — the board president, the vice president and the majority floor leader. Those positions are currently decided by seniority.
Last week, Tyus successfully changed how seniority is counted at the board, from continuous years of service to total years of service. Because she had previously served 12 years before returning to the board in 2013, the move makes Tyus the most senior alderman, with 21 total years.
Tyus insisted that the proposals to reduce the power of the board president had nothing to do with Green’s ascension to the role. But 24th Ward Alderman Bret Narayan pointed out that when he and others had pushed to make changes to the committee selection process at the beginning of the session, they were called racist for trying to usurp Reed’s power.
Tyus eventually agreed to once again delay a vote on the rule changes after 100 minutes of often tense debate. That means other members may also offer their own amendments.
There are just seven meetings remaining in the current session, and the board also has to appropriate the remaining share of federal COVID relief dollars and prepare itself to operate as a body of 14 instead of 28 after elections in April.