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Megan Green takes stock of her year as president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Megan Green is photographed on Nov. 29, 2023, in her office at City Hall in downtown St. Louis.
Tristen Rouse
/
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Megan Green on Wednesday in her office at City Hall.

Megan Green says her first year as president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen was 12 months of progress.

“Tonight, I am proud to say that St. Louis is choosing progress,” Green said Tuesday in a speech streamed on the city’s YouTube channel. “We're learning from our past to fulfill our city's potential.”

Green beat her former aldermanic colleague Jack Coatar in a November 2022 special election to fill out the remainder of Lewis Reed’s term after Reed was charged in a federal corruption case and resigned. Green then won a full four-year term in April.

Since then, the board has cut its numbers in half, boosted its salaries, made the job of alderman full time and hired legislative assistants for each member. Green has also expanded the number of staffers in her office.

“I think the product of the legislation that we're seeing coming through the board is of a higher caliber,” she said. “We're seeing more substantive policy things that actually changed systems for our city.”

She pointed to new limits on short-term housing rentals, which will take effect no later than next year. Aldermen also expanded a guaranteed basic income pilot program, limited who can openly display weapons and gave renters facing eviction the right to an attorney.

But she said aldermen also appropriately balanced addressing big–picture changes with the nuts and bolts of operating city government.

“We passed a budget this past year that gave pretty significant raises to a large number of city employees,” Green said. “And we're already seeing the fruits of that in being able to hire many more 911 operators.”

The wait times for 911 have been a persistent problem.

In the coming weeks, Green and her allies on the board will introduce legislation continuing their focus on tenants’ rights.

More than half of city residents are renters, Green said, and while they will get the right to an attorney in eviction proceedings, sometimes those evictions are the result of a building being condemned. She wants the city to establish a tenants fund that would help pay relocation expenses for renters in that situation. She also hopes to set up a rental registry that would provide more information about landlords.

Green also promised additional citizen input. The city has in the past sought community participation around specific issues, like spending the settlement over the departure of the Rams to Los Angeles. Green wants to expand that to overall legislative priorities.

“Fostering a true democratic partnership between elected officials and city residents creates an engaged public, an accountable government and long-lasting solutions to our city's biggest challenges,” she said.

New technology at City Hall will make virtual participation in in-person meetings easier, she said. And her office has taken steps to make sure it gets public input from all areas of the city.

Green said she hopes to make a legislative update a yearly tradition.

“And just like we are making this year, the year of the tenant, maybe next year is the year of the worker,” she said.

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