Charter reform to change status of Aldermanic President?

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Some are proposing a charter change in St. Louis city to make the Aldermanic President elected from within the Board of Aldermen rather than by a vote of the citizens. The idea is that the Board would be choosing its own leader, rather than having city voters decide.

Maybe through such a move there would be one further fewer elected official in the City. For instance, say if the full Board were to vote in Sharon Tyus, Alderwoman of the 1st Ward, as Board President. Then Sharon would have the dual role of 1st Ward Alderman and Board President.

Current Board President Lewis Reed is not thrilled with the idea. He's quoted as saying such a change takes power out of the hands of city voters. Maybe he's right. Maybe city voters have too much power?
Wouldn't it make more sense to have the mayor fill that role rather than an alderman, and maybe add some power to the city's top executive position?
This is interesting. I'm curious to hear others' thoughts. I'm not sure how to feel about it. To be honest, I wasn't exactly aware of how one became board president until now anyways.

EDIT: onecity just beat me to it but...

Here's another thought, but there very well may be a good reason why this isn't a good idea.

Why couldn't the Mayor serve as the president of the board of alderman? He is the citizen-elected leader of the city (on a general issues sort of thing).

I know other cities do this, but they're smaller and the Mayor doesn't necessarily have other powers in those cities. I have no idea if major urban cities have done this or not. Maybe that would just be too much on the Mayor's plate.

All of this said, I REALLY like Lewis Reed. I ultimately voted for Mayor Slay for mayor, and I'm not saying I regret that. But I've really gotten to appreciate what President Reed does in his current role and the things he advocates for.
In a sense, former Board President James Shrewsbury became President this way. When Francis Slay was elected mayor, he vacated his position as aldermanic president. As senior member of the B of A, Mr. Shrewsbury, under the current charter, was next in line to become president.

In his first race for Board President, Shrewsbury defeated challenger Lyda Krewson. In his second race, Shrewsbury was defeated by challenger Lewis Reed. Both elections were somewhat heated.

Having the Board President elected from the ranks of aldermen would save the city money by having one fewer campaign every four years. Being Board President is a coveted role. It's for a seat on the powerful Board of Estimate and Apportionment ("E and A"), where city contracts are approved.

This year, the tension between Mayor Slay and President Reed has been palpable. On many issues, the political differences between Slay and Reed have played out over votes at E and A, the most contentious recently being over the proposed Veolia water department management and consulting contract.

Real charter reform would be the elimination of the Board of E and A entirely and the creation of a more powerful executive in the Mayor's office. Changing how the board president is elected seems more about politics than true reform.
Seems to me leader should be nominated by those he/she leads. I think the reform is good simply because you could easily have a situation where the aldermen at large feel one way, but the person elected as leader is of the opposing view. How can a person lead when he opposes the majority of the body they lead. If one wants to "lead" the aldermen then they should cultivate support within that body.

Having the mayor fill the role would be no different than the current situation except you are eliminating a potentially powerful rival to his authority, which i think would be detrimental to healthy debate. It seems to me Alderman Reed uses the position to contend with his political rival the mayor rather than to represent the will of the Aldermen. Its also probably why they are pursuing this reform.
^ Very good points. Sort of like being the leader of the Senate or the House of Representatives. Those positions are elected from within.

Does the fact that St. Louis is really a one-party town make any difference?

And even though they're all democrats, they definitely don't speak with one voice.

There's the northside, the southside, the southwest corner, the central corridor, and the aldermanic black caucus. Lots of little turf areas among aldermen.

So how does a president elected from within change things? Does he become the voice of his corner of the city?

When elected city-wide, he represents everyone.

That's basically what Jim Shrewsbury said when he became board president. His words were basically to this effect: "I am still an alderman, it's just now I am everyone's alderman."

So he took it as more a broader city wide representative role than as the leader of a legislative body.
This rule change would likely mean that it would be more difficult to have a Black President of the BoA. I think we are down to about 11 Black Aldermen in 11 northside wards. This hypothetical rule change wouldn't necessarily have that implication at every election, but it would likely shift even greater dominance to the southside and central corridor.
Changing the Board President from a voted by citizens position to one elected from within the BoA would essentially decrease the number of representatives by one, would it not? The current setup 29 members composed of 28 aldermen plus the president of the BoA and this would therefore change to just 28 aldermen one of whom is the president of the BoA?

As per Shrewbury, the president of the BoA is essentially an at-large representative with additional powers. Is it a bad thing to lose an at-large representative, someone who looks at issues from a city-wide perspective? Should the President of the BoA become elected from within, should the future structure of the BoA be further changed to add at-large aldermen, say 12 wards and 3 at-large aldermen?
onecity wrote:
Wouldn't it make more sense to have the mayor fill that role rather than an alderman, and maybe add some power to the city's top executive position?


^Yes. This.
Presbyterian wrote:
onecity wrote:
Wouldn't it make more sense to have the mayor fill that role rather than an alderman, and maybe add some power to the city's top executive position?


^Yes. This.


Agreed. Separation of powers is sort of built into the American psyche as how politics should be done, but on a city level, it makes a good deal more sense to concentrate more power and streamline local government.
The relevant article:
http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/nick-pistor/on-city-s-birthday-st-louis-aldermen-contemplate-change/article_27806c94-a269-5096-bb72-095a3fc2ff69.html

Best part:
Young said she wouldn’t identify who is behind the aldermanic president change “because it might put a target on them.”


Jennifer Florida also said she wants to lead charter reform to dump the BEA or chase Reed out of his job in 2015.

My hope for all of this, including the ward changes 28->14, is that it's irrelevant by 2020 because BetterTogether manages to shift the needle on municipal and county governance in a big way.