St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed doesn’t keep his disapproval of Proposition R quiet.
In a press conference Monday, Reed slammed the proposition that would change the city’s process for redrawing wards if approved by voters tomorrow.
“I don’t say this lightly – two of the most poorly written pieces of legislation that I’ve seen are probably Prop R and Prop D,” Reed says.
Prop R would also prohibit aldermen from overturning legislation passed by voters such as Prop D, which some aldermen have tried to overturn since it passed in 2020. It changed St. Louis’ elections to a nonpartisan, approval voting system, which allows people to vote for as many candidates as they want in nonpartisan races such as comptroller and board president.
A California-based nonprofit called The Center for Election Science donated to a campaign for Prop D.
Reed condemned this connection, saying the Center for Election Science wants to use St. Louis as a “lab rat” to see how legislation outlined in Prop R would play out.
Wally Siewert, a petitioner for Prop R and volunteer for Reform St. Louis says the Center for Election Science provided “some” funding to the group, but the push for Prop R was citizen led.
“[Prop R] was driven by, guided by and written by citizen volunteers here in the city of St. Louis,” Siewert says. “The fundamental truth is it challenges the way people come into power and the way people hold power in this city. What we’re seeing here is the people who currently hold the power have a problem with that.”
Prop R would also require aldermen to make financial disclosure statements open to the public and prohibit them from taking action on policies they have a personal or financial interest in.
If the proposition passes, a nine-person “People’s Commission” would draw ward lines instead of the Board of Aldermen. Though the Board of Aldermen could appoint people to an oversight committee that would ultimately select four of the members of the “People’s Commission.” These four appointees would choose the rest of the commissioners.
Opponents say this takes representation away from residents. “How can people who don’t live in these communities speak for people that do?” questioned Ward 27 Alderwoman Pam Boyd.
Ward 23 Alderman Joseph Vaccaro said taking power away from the board is “an attack” on its diversity.
“The women and Black members of the Board of Aldermen have finally made progress,” Vaccaro says. “I don’t know who thinks it’s a great idea to say, ‘Gee, let’s take this away from them.’”
Reed directed further criticism at the several charter amendments outlined in the proposition and said he would file a lawsuit if it passed.
“Hopefully, the voters will see through it, and they’ll vote it down,” Reed said.