Vote Annie Rice, 8th Ward Alderwoman

anniefor8thToday, I reaffirm my support for the election of fellow Democrat Annie Rice to Alderwoman of the 8th Ward in the February 13, 2018, Special Election.

Annie Rice has been a selfless, tireless advocate for the Democratic Party as 8th Ward Democratic Committeewoman, Democratic Party 5th Senate District Committeewoman, and active member of the Missouri Democratic State Committee. She has given her time and passion to campaigning for Democrats across Missouri, voter registration, and working on State Committee’s Platform Committee and St. Louis Democratic City Central Committee projects.

My continued support for Annie Rice, a Democrat now running as an Independent, is not rebellion against voters decision in a Democratic Party Primary Election. They were denied the right to vote in a Primary under present Missouri law regarding Special Elections to fill vacancies. Instead, the City Central Committee-  two Democratic Committeepersons from the 8th Ward and 52 Democratic Committeepersons from the City’s 27 other wards- nominated a candidate on behalf of 8th Ward Democrats. It is an outdated, undemocratic, paternalistic system that desperately needs reform.

I stand with the 540 voters of the 8th Ward who signed petitions of support for Annie Rice. The input by 8th Ward voters was not only rejected by City Central Committee, it was, shockingly, disrespected. I apologize to the voters of the 8th Ward for the disrespect shown them.

Annie Rice is the best candidate. Her progressive Democratic values, her skills as an attorney, her experience fighting for justice and against the status quo, this is what I believe the voters of the 8th Ward want from their alderwoman as evidenced by the petitions with 540 signatures.

Vote Annie Rice, 8th Ward Alderwoman

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman


UPDATED: 8th Ward Alder Special Election February 13th

8thwardFiling has begun for the February 13th Special Election to fill the 8th Ward Alderman Vacancy created when Alderman Stephen Conway was appointed Assessor by Mayor Lyda Krewson. Here is the Board of Election Notice. 

Political party central committees must meet and select their 8th Ward nominees for this election by January 12th. In a special election, nomination by party committees replaces the primary election. I will post St. Louis Democratic City Central Meeting Notice when I get the info.

Persons who wish to run as Independent Candidates for 8th Ward Alderman need to turn in their petitions by January 12th. You need signatures from 325 voters who voted in the April 4, 2017, mayoral election. Advise you to get lots more signatures. Some people will fib and tell you they voted last April when they didn’t.

Absentee Voting for 8th Ward Alderman begins January 16th. Voter Registration Deadline for 8th Ward Aldermen election is January 17th.

Here is some information on filing requirements. 

The 8th Ward includes parts of the Shaw, Southwest Garden, and Tower Grove East Neighborhoods.

UPDATE: Adding information on proxies. Under Missouri Democratic Party By-Laws, proxies may not be used for nominating to fill legislative district vacancies and countywide vacancies. State Party By-Laws, nor our City Central Committee By-Laws say anything about alderman nominations. Proxies may, therefore, be used for special election alderman nomination. A committeeperson may carry up to two proxies. The proxy form is posted here.

Disclosure: As a committeewoman voting on nominee for 8th Ward Alderman, I have pledged my vote to 8th Ward Committeewoman Annie Rice.

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

My Email Tonight To Central Committee On 28th Ward Candidates

Dear Central Committee Colleagues: Yesterday on St. Louis Public Radio, we found out Missouri Senate Pro Tem Ron Richard (R-Joplin) would carry the ball for Rex Inc.’s anti-St. Louis Agenda, including selling off St. Louis Lambert International Airport and forced re-entry of St. Louis City into St. Louis County.

Rex Inc. is negotiating privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport with no input from aldermen or public. The pro-privatization website by Rex Inc. appears to be saying this is the greatest thing ever and nearly a done deal.

We need to know who are our friends at every level of government, who we can depend on to stand with us against Rex Inc. That includes the Board of Aldermen.

We have an opportunity to vet 28th Ward Alderman candidates and find out where they stand on issues, including Rex Inc. related issues. We should take it. I am asking, again, that St. Louis Democratic City Central Committee invite all candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for 28th Ward Alderman to our Thursday meeting to answer our questions.

One candidate will get the nod from Central Committee and one or more rejected candidates will file as Independents. By vetting each of the candidates now and making this information known to the public, we would be providing a public service– information on citywide/regional issues that likely might not even come up within 28th Ward-only forums.

We should find out where each of the 28th Ward Alderman candidates stands on, as examples,…
1) Forced re-entry of City into County
2) Privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport
3) Privatization of City Refuse services
4) Privatization of City Water Department
5) Re-Vote on Ward Reduction
6) Maintaining our County elected offices as elected

I understand this is hard for many of you, breaking with tradition, the idea that we not merely nominate the chosen alderman candidate of the ward’s committeeman and committeewoman. But this is an opportunity to find out where candidates (plural) stand on issues important to our future as a party, a City, and a region. I think that is our responsibility here, not rubber stamping a nominee.

Also, I have consolidated the Rex ballot issues information to a new Say No To Rex blog and Twitter account @SayNoToRex to keep track of Rex-related news.

Marie Ceselski
7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

On Tuesday, Vote For Proposition 1 Tax Increase If…

In the 1970’s-80’s, there was a small group of legislator-lawyers in the Missouri House known as “The White Hats.” They actually read proposed legislation and amendments. They wrote amendments without the assistance of lobbyists. They asked hard questions and made eloquent speeches for and against proposals. They were data-driven before it was a thing, requiring documentation and not merely anecdote. They were champions for campaign finance reform and curbing conflicts of interest in public office, reproductive rights, child welfare, the poor and elderly, the environment, public education, civil rights, Labor, and the wise spending of public funds. They were Liberals that spoke against legislative pork. They often butted heads with important elected officials and lobbyists. They were heroes to me and others.

Then, one day in the early 90’s, some of the remaining White Hats fell off the pedestal we had placed them on. Times had changed. The Missouri House Speaker had consolidated power and was the most important elected official in the State. He ruled with an iron fist. He required votes for his priority bills. Sometimes these priorities were more for the good of a few than the many, bills that needed a legislative moral compass, needed The White Hats. But voting your conscience came to have repercussions. Your district would not get money it needed for a public works project. Campaign money would dry up and the Speaker would find someone to run against you. A relative might coincidently lose a job. The Speaker might allow abortion restrictions to come to a vote in order to secure Republican votes for his priorities.

And one by one, I saw The White Hats take to a House floor microphone to say how bad a bill was, walked away holding their noses to demonstrate the legislation stunk, and then they voted Yes.

I hate Proposition 1 because it reminds me of the Fall of The White Hats. I hate it because it makes me question my own values and what is and is not in the public’s best interest. I hate it because it forces me to decide if the ends justify the means.

Proposition 1 is a property tax increase to pay for $180 Million in bonds for capital improvements and other things.

Vote for Proposition 1 if you are OK with special elections designed to incur the least number of voters deciding the fate of an issue.

The City of St. Louis should be encouraging voter registration and voter turnout. Instead, our elected leaders have joined forces to ensure a handful of voters make an important decision. Why? Because they believe that the more voters who turn out, the more likely it will fail.

We need a Charter Amendment to move all our City elections to the state elections cycle. No more low turnout Spring elections in the snow and ice, no more special elections except to fill vacancies. It will save money and increase turnout.

On the other hand, if poor leadership by Mayor Francis Slay and Board President Lewis Reed have caused us to actually be in a capital improvements crisis, and this is a must have bond issue, then I can see where we might hold our noses and vote for it. But. But, we should also be bouncing both the Mayor and Board President out of office first chance we get for having failed to properly plan.

Section6Vote for Proposition 1 if you are OK with Section 6. of the enabling legislation and understand that the money will be spent with the qualification “substantially in accordance with Exhibit A,” the mysterious Exhibit A.

BB2CSAA-Exhibit AIn Congress, state legislatures, courts, and administrative commissions, an Exhibit is an attached document that says “Exhibit.” No such document exists for the Proposition 1 enabling legislation. Is there an attachment to the Board Bill? Yes. A vague list titled “Proposition 1 – CATEGORY.”

Adding further intrigue, several aldermen are under the impression that Exhibit A is actually the March 20, 2014 St. Louis City Capital Improvements Committee’s Needs Report.  Good luck finding out who is on that Committee and when it meets.

“Substantially in accordance” means that money can be moved around and most assuredly will. Do I believe for a second that the money identified for the Fire Department will not be spent on the Fire Department? No. I have every confidence that fire fighters will either see those funds spent as intended or raise so much hell that recalls of elected officials are the result.

Some of the other monies, I have no such confidence.

Could funds be used to enhance our long vacant Municipal Courts Building as part of a sales deal, essentially subsidizing redevelopment? Yes. I believe so.

Could funds from more than one line item be used for retaining the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency in St. Louis City? Yes. I believe so.

Could funds from the Ward Capital Improvement Fund be used to plug a hole in the Budget? Yes. I believe so. And it won’t be the first time.

Vote for Proposition 1 if you’re OK with aldermen getting more money for their Ward Accounts.

I have no issues with aldermen having a pot of money divided up 28 ways and used for capital improvements within their wards according to how each alderman sees fit. As a 7th Ward resident, I know that my former alderwoman used those funds smartly and as matching funds toward even more neighborhood improvements.

But the added funds for aldermen to spend was, let’s face it, a bribe to get their votes to put Proposition 1 on the ballot. My concern here is not the ethics of legislative pork. That train left a long time ago.  My concern is how easily aldermen had the rug pulled over them. A Budget crisis is coming/here and that new money for the ward accounts will be the first fatality, essentially turning the Ward Capital Improvement Fund into the Emergency Fund.

I also know that these ward accounts are part of what some call the “fiefdom” problem and oft ridiculed parochialism in St. Louis City. Funny thing is some of the very corporations funding Proposition 1 want an even stronger mayor system. They want a big pot of money from which the mayor can draw upon to do big things. But they have ponied up and contributed to increased support of the so-called fiefdom system.

Vote for Proposition 1 if you do not require transparency from your elected officials.

Aug15-Sample-Ballot1The word “tax” does not appear in Board Bill 2 authorizing the bond issue vote nor in the ballot language you will see at the polls. The word “tax” does not appear in any of the proponent literature.

Sure. It’s been done before. But this time it is different. This time, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has failed to call a tax, a tax. While some news stories have included information on the tax increase that would result in passage of the ballot issue, the headlines speak differently.

A tax increase elsewhere is called a tax increase.
tax4 tax5


Tuesday’s ballot issue for a tax increase, however, has only headlined as a bond issue.


The number of people who read a news story is much lower than the number of people who read a headline. I am not suggesting a conspiracy here. I am suggesting that in a ballot issue campaign with a well-funded proponent side and no opposition, the daily paper of record failed in its role as public watchdog. I am also suggesting that we need a Charter amendment to require the words “tax” and “increase” be used in both enabling legislation and ballot language for any tax increase.

Vote for Proposition 1 if you believe the ends justify the means.

I believe that the men and woman of the St. Louis City Fire Department walk on water. They should be paid well, pensioned well, and have everything they believe is required to fight and prevent fires and attend to emergency medical situations.

I want to vote for this bond issue so that they get what they need. I really do. The question is, do I turn a blind eye to all the imperfections of this bond issue? Do I hold my nose and vote in the affirmative? That is the question each of us must ask and answer.
The 7th Ward Independent Democrats did not meet and vote on an endorsement for this issue. I could not have dragged three members to a meeting in the summer. As committeewoman, I have pledged my endorsements to whatever the members decide. Since there was no vote, I cannot endorse either way.

Still, I wanted to provide a forum for the general public to be educated on Proposition 1. Finding pro and con speakers, however, proved impossible. In the end, I thought we’d post pro and con essays on the 7th Ward Blog and call it a day. I asked Alderman Jack Coatar, who voted for the enabling legislation, but he declined. Board President Reed, the bill’s sponsor, did not respond. As I continued to ask elected officials to write in favor of the ballot issue and they were not interested, I grew more frustrated and just gave up on it. Sorry. I tried.

Marie Ceselski
7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman