I’m looking at what’s on the ballot a week from tomorrow, and I notice that in the city, there will be a proposed charter amendment that will move the city’s election cycle from the March primary April general cycle that state law proscribes for municipalities to an August primary November system that state law requires for state and Federal offices. The city can do that in spite of state law because of its home rule powers.
I don’t know if it would make a difference either way. I’m just trying to figure out who is behind it through the inference of who would benefit from it. I know that a certain Mr. Rex S. supports B, but I also know for sure that he had no substantial hand in getting B on the ballot, and isn’t spending much on the pro campaign. However, just his support is causing a lot of people to be apprehensive about it, and some are even flat out declaring their opposition for no other reason.
As for my more rational and far less knee-jerk parsing, I come up with two theories:
(1) Remember, only one party in the city matters, that being Democrat. This means that, in the system we have now, all relevant candidate-based electoral politics happen in March of odd-numbered years, with April being pro forma. If B passes, it means that they would all happen in August of even-numbered years, with November being pro forma. One thing we know for sure about St. Louis — It’s always warmer in early August than it is in early March, and there is zero chance of debilitating snow in early August, while there is in early March. It’s possible that moving the meat of city politics from March to August is meant to try to boost black turnout. If NAACP type groups or black/-ish groups are behind Prop B, then we’ll know the time of day.
(2) If it’s not race, then another thing that auspiciously jumps out at me is that, because the change would happen starting in 2020, meaning the March/April 2019 elections normally held then would not be held until August/November 2020, and then the March/April 2021 elections that would be held then would not be held until August/November 2022, it means that the next mayoral election in the city, scheduled for March/April 2021 but for Prop B, would happen in August/November 2022 if B passes, and then every August/November of even-numbered Presidential midterm years going forward. Think of another prominent St. Louis-area local government executive office voted on in August/November of Presidential midterm years — That’s right — St. Louis County Executive. Could this be some sort of slick on-the-low propaganda mechanism to grease the skids psychologically for city-county merger?
As an aside, even if Prop B does not pass, what will happen is that the city board of aldermen will halve in size from 28 to 14 starting at the first normal election cycle after the release of the 2020 Census data (that happens some time in the late spring of 2021) and the requisite drawing of the city map into 14 wards of roughly equal population. I think what will happen as far as that goes is that all 14 wards will go on the first election, then they’ll alternate between the even numbered and odd numbered wards every four years. If Prop B does not pass, then it will go like this: All 14 wards in March/April 2023, then the seven odd-numbered wards in March/April 2025, then the even-numbered wards in March/April 2027, etc. If Prop B does pass, then the all-wards cycle will happen in August/November 2022, then the seven even-numbered wards in August/November 2024, then the seven odd-numbered wards in August/November 2026, etc. I think it will continue to be the case that once the 14 ward system is settled in, odd numbered wards go on the mayoral cycle and the even numbered wards go on the mayoral midterm cycle, which would be the aldermanic president cycle, that city wide office would go on August/November of Presidential cycles if Prop B passes.