Op-ed: Vote Megan-Ellyia Green for president of the Board of Aldermen

Jake Lyonfields | Class of 2014

On Tuesday, March 5, City of St. Louis voters will have an opportunity to bring major change to local government by choosing our city’s next president of the Board of Aldermen.

For those who don’t know what the president of the Board of Aldermen does and why this election is so critical to the future of the City of St. Louis, let me fill you in.

The City of St. Louis has several city-wide elected positions. The most prominent is the role of mayor, currently held by Lyda Krewson.

The president of the Board of Aldermen can be thought of as the mayor’s legislative counterpart: the president is responsible for assigning each of the city’s 28 alderpersons to legislative committees, as well as assigning introduced bills to these committees. In these ways, the president has immense power to fast-track or stifle alderpersons’ legislative efforts.

The president also sits on an executive board in the City of St. Louis called the Board of Estimate & Apportionment, which is the most powerful local political board you’ve never heard of.

“E&A,” as it’s typically referred to by local politicos, is comprised of the mayor, the comptroller and the president of the Board of Aldermen, and the three of them are responsible for crafting the city’s budget, as well as approving real estate deals and city contracts.

This all may sound a bit esoteric, but the upcoming March 5, city-wide election to choose the next president of the Board of Aldermen has real implications, given the power of this position.

For instance, when current 15th Ward Alderwoman Megan-Ellyia Green (who is herself running in the March 5 primary for president of the Board of Aldermen) introduced a Homelessness Bill of Rights during the 2017 legislative session, current president of the Board of Aldermen, Lewis Reed, did not assign the bill to the Health and Human Services legislative committee—where it would have most naturally been heard and where it would have received a fair hearing—but instead assigned it to the aldermanic committee tasked with redistricting. Put another way, Reed wanted Green’s Homelessness Bill of Rights to never reach a vote before the full Board of Aldermen, so he made sure the bill died in an unrelated and unfriendly legislative committee.

What’s more, E&A is currently considering efforts to privatize our region’s airport, which is currently managed by the City of St. Louis. Privatization of Lambert Airport would likely result in union busting and a loss of millions of dollars annually for the City of St. Louis.

Right now, a simple majority vote at E&A would be enough to approve privatization, and Reed has sent several signals that he would support the privatization of our airport. Notably, Comptroller Darlene Green seems to oppose airport privatization, while Krewson supports privatization. Accordingly, replacing Reed at the helm of the Board of Aldermen is essential to defeating this wrong-headed, profit-motivated privatization measure.

There are three candidates to consider on Tuesday, March 5 for the position of president of the Board of Aldermen. I urge members of the Washington University community who are city voters to support Alderwomen Megan-Ellyia Green, as she is the only true progressive in this race.

I’ve already mentioned a couple of examples of her progressive leadership credentials, but there are more: she successfully fought to raise the City of St. Louis’ minimum wage; she has proposed reforming our use of property tax incentives so that we are prioritizing funding for St. Louis’ public schools instead of lining the pockets of big developers; she has repeatedly shown up at Black Lives Matter actions across our region and sought to advance the calls to action outlined in the Ferguson Commission Report.

Alderwoman Green is a consistently, persistently progressive leader and she deserves our votes on Tuesday, March 5 in the president of the Board of Aldermen race. She has an amazing, grassroots-powered ground game, and I’m proud to call myself a volunteer of her campaign. As an alumnus of Washington University who fell in love with St. Louis during my undergraduate years, I urge you to vote to help bring sorely needed change to the City of St. Louis: vote for Megan-Ellyia Green for president of the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday, March 5.

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