The citizens of Ferguson elected three new members to its city council yesterday, bringing its members from majority white to half African American.
Ella Jones won decisively in Ward 1, replacing former Ferguson police officer Kim Tihen. Former Ferguson mayor and I Love Ferguson founder Brian Fletcher edged out activist Bob Hudgins in the 2nd. Finally, Velda City municipal judge and St. Louis Community College professor Wesley Bell claimed victory over opponent Lee Smith in Ward 3.
"We could not be more ecstatic -- that means we're reaching our constituents," says Bell. "When you have a community that is engaged, the sky's the limit."
Though the council now has two new black members, interestingly, the candidates who aligned themselves most closely with the protest movement -- Lee and Hudgins -- did not prevail. Additionally, during the campaign, none of the candidates supported dismantling the Ferguson Police Department.
As hoped, turnout was about twice as high as past years, when candidates sometimes ran without an opponent or won by a handful of votes. According to the Post-Dispatch, 30 percent of the city's 12,738 registered voters turned out to the polls yesterday, despite the dismal weather.
Bell says he does not believe the new racial makeup of the council will only result in improved optics.
"Diversity has shown to be good for the community. For a council that more reflects the community is only going to result in more community engagement," he says. "It facilitates making those positive changes and sustainable change, because now the community is on board for it."
Here's the breakdown by the numbers:
Ella Jones 824 / 49.76 percent
Doyle McClellan 217 / 13.10 percent
Adrienne J. Hawkins 217 / 13.10 percent
Mike McGrath 389 / 23.49 percent
Write-In 9 / 0.54 percent
Brian Patrick Fletcher 847 / 56.77 percent
Bob Hudgins 636 / 42.63 percent
Write-In 9 / 0.60 percent
Wesley Bell 494 / 66.94 percent
Lee Smith 242 / 32.79 percent
Write-In 2 / 0.27 percent
Meet the three winners in the following video profiles from the Post-Dispatch:
Email the author at Jessica.Lussenhop@RiverfrontTimes.com.