City of St. Louis 2023 Primary Municipal Election: Meet the CandidatesJanuary 9, 2023
On March 7, 2023, the Primary election for the City of St. Louis Municipal Election will take place. This election will determine the candidates for the President of the Board of Aldermen and all Aldermen for the General election. The General election will be held on April 4, 2023. The upcoming Primary election will be the first election held in the City of St. Louis since the Board of Aldermen voted to reduce the number of Wards by half. Candidates will run on a nonpartisan basis without party affiliation. The two candidates with the highest number of votes will run against each other in the April General election. For the initial terms under the new Ward boundaries, candidates in odd numbered Wards will be running for two-year terms and candidates in even numbered Wards will be running for four-year terms. Below is a brief description of each candidate that has secured a slot in the Primary elections.
Ten current Aldermen decided not to run: Dwinderlin Evans, Christine Ingrassia, Jack Coatar, Annie Rice, Dan Guenther, James Lappe, Bill Stephens, Carol Howard, Jesse Todd, and Marlene Davis.
Please note, information about the candidates was obtained from public online sources by conducting searches of websites, news outlets, and public social media accounts. The amount of information available varied from candidate to candidate.
President of the Board of Aldermen
The race for the President of the Board of Aldermen will be uncontested.
- Megan Ellyia Green defeated fellow Alderman Jack Coatar in a special election held in November 2022 to fill the seat formerly held by Lewis E. Reed who resigned on June 7, 2022. Prior to her election as President, Green had been the Alderwoman for the current 15th Ward since October 2014. As Alderwoman, Green served as Chair of the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee and Vice-Chair of the Engrossment, Rules, Resolutions and Credentials Committees. She is a former St. Louis Public School teacher. Green previously ran for the Missouri State Senate.
WARD 1 – Two-Year Term
- Anne Schweitzer is the Alderwoman for the current 13th Ward. She is the Vice-Chair of the Convention and Tourism Committee as well as the Vice-Chair of the Education and Youth Matters Committee. She is a St. Louis native. Over the years, Schweitzer served as a community organizer and worked in a variety of industries including for non-profits, in political campaigns, and in public relations. In previous elections, Schweitzer ran on a platform focused on public safety, schools, constituent services, the environment, supporting police officers, and citywide development and promotion.
- Matthew Kotraba is a GOP Committeeman for the current 13th Ward. As a Committeeman, Kotraba stated that he enjoys promoting conservative ideas that may help to reduce taxes and hold politicians accountable.1
- Anthony Kirchner is a Deputy Sherriff for St. Louis City. He is a St. Louis native, a lifelong public servant, and a United States Navy veteran. Kirchner is also a graduate of Webster University. He states that he is running for Alderman because the City’s government has failed to provide basic services necessary to function such as trash collection and 911 dispatch. Kirchner’s says that his number one priority is to provide police with proper training and resources to properly address the crime in the City’s neighborhoods.
WARD 2 – Four-Year Term
- Thomas R. Oldenburg is the Alderman for the current 16thWard. He is the Chair of the Convention and Tourism Committee and was elected to the Board of Aldermen in 2017. Oldenburg is a Vice President at the community development division of a national bank. He has 14 years of professional experience in public finance and economic development and is a graduate of St. Louis University. Oldenburg is a graduate of the Leadership St. Louis Program, is a member of the Urban Land Institute, and previously served on the board of the International Institute of St. Louis. He is running on a platform of fixing the City’s 911 system, improving the City’s infrastructure, investing in public safety, addressing homelessness, and improving trash collection.
- Phillip (Phill) Menendez is a Key Account Executive at Blue Line Technology in Fenton and is a retired officer from the St. Louis City Metropolitan Police Department. Menendez was an officer for 21 years during which he and other officers were disciplined for personally using the World Series tickets that they had seized as evidence from ticket scalpers. Menendez received a demotion for his involvement in the scheme.
- Katherine (Katie) Bellis is a Quality Improvement Coordinator for St. Louis County. Bellis is a 2022 Citizen’s Advisory Committee appointee for the St. Louis City Capital Committee. The Capital Committee is responsible for reviewing and assessing capital needs, and developing and recommending a Capital Improvement Plan and capital budgets for the City.
WARD 3 – Two-Year Term
The race for Ward 3 will be uncontested.
- Shane Cohn is the Alderman for the current 25th Ward. Cohn is the Chair of the Transportation and Commerce Committee. Cohn has served as the Alderman of the 25th Ward since 2009. Cohn helped St. Louis’ bid to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention by sponsoring and winning unanimous approval of a bill to add “gender identity” to the list of characteristics protected by municipal law. Also, Cohn was the principal sponsor of St. Louis’ Complete Streets laws, which requires future projects to incorporate the needs of pedestrians and mass transit users into road and street design.
WARD 4 – Four-Year Term
- Bret Narayan is the Alderman for the current 24th Ward. He is a member of various committees including the Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee and the Public Safety Committee. Narayan grew up in St. Louis and is currently a resident of Dogtown. He is an attorney and a graduate of St. Louis University School of Law. In previous elections, he ran on a platform of promoting transparency, advocating for St. Louis Public Schools, reforming criminal justice, improving public safety, and ending the abuse of Tax Increment Financing.
- Joseph (Joe) Vaccaro is the Alderman for the current 23rd Ward. Vaccaro is Chair of the Public Safety Committee and Vice-Chair of the Transportation and Commerce Committee. He was first elected in 2009. Vaccaro is a St. Louis native and a lifelong resident of the 4th Ward. He is a former car wash owner in the City.
- Casey Otto is a professional freelance photographer and is the co-owner and co-founder of a photography studio called Pink Studio, located in downtown St. Louis. He is the son of former Missouri State Representative Bill Otto.
WARD 5 – Two-Year Term
- Joseph (Joe) Vollmer is the Alderman for the current 10th Ward. He is Chair of the Legislation Committee and sponsored the bill that redrew the Ward boundaries. He has also chaired other committees, was involved in the creation of the Soccer Stadium Redevelopment Area, and served as the interim Board of Aldermen President from June 2022 until Megan Green was elected. Vollmer grew up in St. Louis, became a partner in Milo’s Bocce Garden on the Hill in 1989, and his family gained sole ownership of it in 2019. Vollmer has represented the current 10th Ward for 20 years. He states that his main goal as Alderman is neighborhood preservation and cites the recent redevelopment on the Hill that converted a vacant 12 acre industrial site into housing as an example.
- Helen Petty is a stylist and owner of a local collective of independent beauty professionals called ChopShop in the Grove. Petty is a California native who arrived in St. Louis in the mid-1990s as a seventh grader. She attended culinary school and worked as a pastry chef before becoming a stylist. Petty is running on a platform of helping the unhoused, enacting a renters’ bill of rights, providing early childhood education, and implementing a citywide infrastructure plan that prioritizes pedestrian and cyclist safety. Petty states that she is running for Alderwoman because she knows what it is like to be homeless, to be a child with both parents in prison, to be a single working mother, and to open a small business.2
WARD 6 – Four-Year Term
- Jennifer Florida is a former Alderwoman for the current 15th Ward. As Alderwoman, she was the Chair of the Public Employees Committee and Vice-Chair of the Ways and Means Committee. She was elected as Alderwoman in 2001 and resigned in 2014 when she was appointed as the City’s Recorder of Deeds. As Recorder, Florida assisted in overturning Missouri’s ban on same-sex marriage. She subsequently ran for Alderwoman of the 15th Ward in 2021 and lost to Megan Green. Florida is a licensed realtor. She states that her top issues as Alderwoman would be safety, affordable housing, and sustainability. Florida states she has the passion, the experience, and the knowledge to help move the City forward.
- Daniela Velazquez is a public relations executive and is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Over the years, Velazquez has worked with NARAL, the ACLU, the Fergusson Commission, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Mosaic Project. She describes herself as a progressive city resident and is running on a platform of three issues: economic justice, public safety, and city services. Velazquez states that she is running because her informed and compassionate perspective will help her serve the people of St. Louis and she believes in a vision of the City where all can thrive.
WARD 7 – Two-Year Term
- Alisha Sonnier is a member of the Board of Education for St. Louis Public School system and is a graduate of the University of Missouri – St. Louis. Sonnier is a St. Louis native. She states that all of her life, she has been called to serve the public. She co-founded the organizations Tribe X and BlackTea, and she has been involved in numerous local campaigns including “Fight for 15.”3 Sonnier states that she is running because she wants to represent the voices of everyone and lift up those who have been left behind.
- Jon-Pierre (J.P.) Mitchom is the Director of Equity and Inclusion at Saint Louis Priory School. He is a graduate of Missouri Baptist University. Mitchom previously worked as a school counselor for Parkway Schools and as a Homeless Coordinator for Rockwood School District where he served families that were living out of motels.4
- Cedric (C-Sharp) Redmon is a musician and hip-hop artist. Redmon is also a community activist and a former candidate for the Board of Aldermen. He worked as a youth ambassador for St. Louis City and worked to change the “no snitching” policy present in local communities.5
WARD 8 – Four-Year Term
- Cara Spencer is the Alderwoman for the current 20th Ward. She is Chair of the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. Spencer was first elected to the Board in 2015 and unsuccessfully ran for Mayor in 2021. She grew up in St. Louis and graduated from Truman State University in Kirksville, MO. Spencer currently works as a Senior Vice President at Saint Louis Bank and has worked as an analyst and mathematical modeler for more than 12 years. She is running on a platform of fixing the dysfunction in city government, improving public safety, and providing educational opportunities to the City’s youth.
- Shedrick (Nato Caliph) Kelley is a Business Analyst at Wells Fargo, a member of the leadership council with the Organization for Black Struggle, he volunteers for the Coalition Against Police Crimes & Repression, and is an active participant on the Civilian Oversight Board. Kelley is also a prominent St. Louis rapper. He is running on a platform of improving trash collection, community empowerment, and protecting public goods from special interests.
- Kenneth (Ken) Ortmann is the former Alderman for the current 9th Ward. Ortmann was Alderman for the 9th from 1999 until Dan Guenther unseated him in 2017. He ran against Guenther again in 2021 and subsequently lost that election. Ortmann helped create the Neighborhood Crime & Safety Committee and was President of the Housing Corporation. In previous campaigns, he ran on a platform of ensuring safe neighborhoods, making sure that residents were getting the City services that they needed, and that streets, sidewalks, and alleys were cared for.
WARD 9 – Two-Year Term
- Michael J. Gras is the Alderman for the current 28th Ward. He is a member of various committees including the Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee and the Neighborhood Development Committee. Gras was elected on April 19, 2022 in a special election, and he previously served as Democratic Committeeman for the 28th Ward. He is an attorney and a graduate of St. Louis University School of Law. Gras’s priorities are alleviating poverty, ward infrastructure, equitable development, and racial equity.
- Tina (Sweet-T) Pihl is the Alderwoman for the current 17th Ward. She is a member of various committees including the Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee and the Streets, Traffic and Refuse Committee. Pihl was the Executive Director of Union Communion Ministries, is the former President of the Forest Park Southeast Neighborhood Association, and is currently a writer and a consultant. She is a graduate of Yale University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her priorities include, among others, equitable development, transparency, community voice, and safety.
- Michael Browning is a Senior Grant Specialist for Washington University School of Medicine. He states that he is running for Alderman because St. Louis has a lot of work to do and the City needs an alderperson that is responsive, proactive, knowledgeable, and hard-working. Browning states that the challenges facing the City are large, systemic, and decades in the making but that the community is worth the hard work. He is running on a platform of keeping streets safe, reimagining renters’ rights, supporting smarter development, and subsidy reform.
WARD 10 – Four-Year Term
- Shameem Clark Hubbard is the Alderwoman for the current 26th Ward. She is Vice-Chair of several committees including the Neighborhood Development Committee and the Public Utilities Committee. Most recently, Clark Hubbard sponsored the Working Families Bill (Board Bill 116) which directs the City to use $52 million in federal funds to establish Missouri’s first basic income program to provide $500 monthly payments to 440 St. Louis families. Clark Hubbard has been a licensed cosmetologist for over 26 years and has owned and operated two successful salons.6
- Emmett L. Coleman is a real estate agent, a residential real estate developer, and a co-owner of a construction company. He works to raise private capital to rehab long vacant residential homes within his Ward. He is a Board Member of the West End Neighbors Association and serves as its Vice President and Beautification Chair. Coleman is a prior candidate for the Board of Aldermen in which he lost to current 8th Alderwoman Annie Rice. He states that being a homeowner and a block captain has developed a sense of leadership and passion in him for the City, and Coleman says that he is ready to work for the wellbeing of his neighbors and the health of the region.
WARD 11 – Two-Year Term
- Laura Keys is the Alderwoman for the current 21st Ward. She is a member of various committees including the Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee and the Public Safety Committee. Keys was elected to the 21st Ward in August 2022 to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of former Alderman John Collins-Muhammad. She is a St. Louis native and has lived in the 21st Ward since 1989. Keys is a business owner who is active in several community and youth organizations. When she took office in 2022, she called herself a servant leader and said safety is her top focus as Alderwoman.7
- Carla (Coffee) Wright is a St. Louis native and has worked as a real estate investor, a recruiter for pharmaceutical companies, a substitute teacher, and an organizer. She notably is known locally as a Juneteenth organizer holding her first St. Louis Juneteenth Parade in 2016. Wright has never held office but has ran multiple campaigns for public office including for United States Senate. She ran in primaries against Claire McCaskill in 2018 and against Trudy Busch Valentine in 2022. As a Senate candidate, Wright ran on a number of issues including supporting family farms, the right to bear arms and gun control, ending homelessness, and rebuilding urban cities.8
WARD 12 – Four-Year Term
- Sharon Tyus is the Alderwoman for the current 1st Ward. She is Chair of the Streets, Traffic and Refuse Committee and she is Vice-Chair of the Public Employees Committee and the Public Safety Committee. Tyus was first elected to represent the 1st Ward in 2013 and previously represented Ward 20 from 1999 to 2003.
- Darron M. Collins-Bey is a small business owner and previously worked for nearly 10 years at Employment Connection. Employment Connection is a St. Louis non-profit which seeks to help ex-offenders find employment and in turn helps reduce recidivism and prevent future incarceration.
- Tashara T. Earl is a tech entrepreneur and founder of Shades of Color which is a personalized beauty marketplace. Earl is a St. Louis native, is President of the Revitalization of Baden Association, and was a 2021 Neighborhood Leadership Fellow. She is a graduate of Missouri State University and Webster University. Earl has stated that being involved and giving back to the community has shaped her ambition and outlook on life today.9
- Yolanda (Glass) Brown is a 1st Ward Democratic Committeewoman.
- Walter Rush is a resident of the Penrose Neighborhood in St. Louis.
WARD 13 – Two-Year Term
- Pamela Boyd is the Alderwoman for the current 27th Ward. She is Chair of the Ways and Means Committee and Vice-Chair of the Parks and Environment Committee. Boyd won her first term in 2017. She is a lifelong resident of the 27th Ward, has worked as a dietary manager for more than 40 years, and is Chairman of the Board of Directors for Annie Malone Children & Family Services. As Alderwoman she has worked to hold landlords accountable to tenants.10
- Norma J. Walker is the Alderwoman for the current 22nd Ward. She is a member of various committees including the Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee and the Education and Youth Matters Committee. Walker became Alderwoman after a special election was held in August of 2022 to fill the vacancy created by Jeffrey Boyd’s resignation.
- Elicia (Lisa) Middlebrook is Alderwoman for the current 2nd Ward. She is Chair of the Public Utilities Committee and Vice-Chair of both the Health and Human Services Committee and the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. In previous campaigns she has advocated for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to practice more community policing and stated that her Ward is in most need of viable small businesses.11 Prior to becoming Alderwoman, Middlebrook was the Democratic Committeewoman for the 2nd Ward.
WARD 14 – Four-Year Term
- James Page is the Alderman for the current 5th Ward. He is a member of several committees including the Public Safety Committee and the Neighborhood Development Committee. Page has called Downtown St. Louis his home for almost 20 years. He is a former businessman and currently serves as the Executive Director of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, which is a grassroots non-profit that undertakes community building and organizing in order to connect people, create change and positively impact the historic and economic nucleus of St. Louis. He states that as Alderman he will make it his mission to provide a safe place for workers, families, and businesses to thrive.
- Brandon Bosley is the Alderman for the current 3rd Ward. He is the Chair of the Public Employees Committee and Vice-Chair of the Streets, Traffic and Refuse Committee. Bosley won his first term in the general election in 2017. Bosley’s father was a long-time Alderman, and his brother, Freeman Bosley Jr., was the first African American Mayor of St. Louis.
- Rasheen Aldridge is a state representative in the Missouri House of Representatives and was elected in 2019. He is a St. Louis native and received an Associate Degree in Heating and Cooling while attending South Technical High School. Aldridge has been involved in community organizing, was a leader in the “Fight for 15” movement, and was appointed by Governor Jay Nixon to serve on the Ferguson Commission. He also met with President Obama to discuss community and policing relationships. Aldridge describes himself as progressive and has a passion for justice and community engagement.
- Ebony Washington is a real estate agent in the City of St. Louis and is a personal financial advisor at 6FigureAmbition. She is a graduate of Webster University. Washington has ties to the Hubbard family which includes former Missouri State Representative Penny Hubbard, former Missouri State Representative Rodney Hubbard, and former Alderwoman Tammika Hubbard.12
5 https://metrostl.com/2019/04/04/setback-wont-stop-entertainer-politician-c-sharp/; https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/local/stl-activists-working-to-change-no-snitching-policy-after-11-kids-killed/63-db7d6ca4-c309-4fcf-837d-2a05086a46b3
12 https://news.stlpublicradio.org/government-politics-issues/2023-01-06/the-st-louis-board-of-aldermen-will-look-much-different-after-spring-elections; https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/silly-season-with-deadline-looming-st-louis-aldermanic-races-take-shape/article_8fc72e24-0a4a-5f8d-a44a-7db1c8d6e265.html