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Two St. Louis Wards Go To the Polls Tuesday In Pandemic-Delayed Special Elections

St. Louis voting stickers are seen on a table at Central Baptist Church in St. Louis on March 10, 2020.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Voters in St. Louis' 4th and 12th wards go to the polls Tuesday to elect their members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

The first elections in the city of St. Louis since the coronavirus pandemic began are scheduled for Tuesday.

Voters in the 4th Ward, which includes the historic Ville neighborhood, and the 12th Ward in southwest St. Louis will elect their representatives on the Board of Aldermen. The contests were originally set for May 19 but rescheduled to comply with public health restrictions.

4th Ward

Dwinderlin Evans, currently the Democratic committeewoman for the ward, is the only person on the ballot to replace Sam Moore, who died Feb. 25 after a long illness. In addition to the Ville neighborhood, the ward covers parts of five others in north St. Louis. 

Evans has been shadowing Moore for the past two and a half years and said she’s committed to continuing his legacy.

“For so many years, the 4th Ward has been slowly dismantled, I’ll put it that way,” she said. “He did all that he could to try and bring development and housing into the 4th Ward, and I just want to carry on his vision.”

Evans said she also wants better city services like trash pickup and grass-cutting for her constituents.

12th Ward

Two candidates — Democrat Vicky Grass and Republican Craig Westbrook — are running to fill the seat vacated by the March resignation of Larry Arnowitz. He was latercharged with mail fraud for using his campaign account to pay his mortgage, and is set to plead guilty Aug. 28.

Both Grass, who retired in 2015 after nearly 30 years with the Firefighters Retirement System, and Westbrook, a truck driver, are political neophytes.

Grass said she chose to run to fill the time in retirement. Her priority is healing the city’s divides.

“North side, south side, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, I want all of us to just be humans living in the city of St. Louis,” she said.

Westbrook’s candidacy is driven by a desire to get the ward what it needs, which he said includes stop signs and speed bumps.

“We got some dangerous stuff going on, and we’ve got a crime problem in the ward,” he said.

Elections in a pandemic

This will be the first election in the city since the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus a pandemic — Missouri’s presidential primary occurred a day before the declaration, and there were no items on the ballot in the city for the June 2 municipal elections.

Gary Stoff, the Republican director of elections, said the city was able to hire a full complement of poll workers, and all polling places in the wards will be open. Personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves is being made available, he said, as well as hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Election judges will sit behind plastic shields, and voters will be asked to practice social distancing and wear masks if possible.

Polls open at 6 a.m. Tuesday, and close at 7 p.m.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

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