BY STEPHEN DEERE
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH / TNS
FERGUSON, MO.– For the first time in Ferguson’s 120-year history, its city council will have three Black members.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of the results for the Ferguson City Council election was that 30 percent of the city’s 12,738 registered voters cast ballots – more than double the typical turnout.
In any other year, it is not uncommon for candidates in Ferguson to run uncontested, and turnout typically hovers around a paltry 12 percent.
But in the aftermath of the Brown shooting, numerous protests, riots and federal investigations, the election featured eight candidates vying for three council seats, and it attracted the attention of media outlets from California to New York.
Ferguson’s population is 67 percent Black, but as of Tuesday, just one of six council seats was held by a Black: Dwayne James in the 2nd Ward.
Favored candidates lost
In the 1st Ward, Ella Jones, a Black woman, garnered nearly 50 percent of the vote in a four-way race.
But the high turnout did not favor two candidates supported by protesters: Bob Hudgins and Lee Smith.
Hudgins, a self-identified protester and independent journalist who ran in the 2nd Ward, lost to former Mayor Brian Fletcher, founder of the “I love Ferguson” campaign.
Smith, a retiree, ran against Wesley Bell in the 3rd Ward. Bell is a municipal court judge in nearby Velda City.
Current Ferguson Mayor James Knowles won an uncontested race last year. But he may soon be forced to mount another campaign; a group of residents recently announced they would work to recall him from office.
Work to do
The next council will be seated in the middle of significant upheaval.
Both City Manager John Shaw and Police Chief Thomas Jackson resigned after a Department of Justice investigation accused the city’s police department of routinely violating residents’ civil rights and acting as a collection agency for Ferguson’s municipal courts.
Nancy Cambria and Nicholas J.C. Pistor of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.