Election results: Mackenzie Village dissolves; Parkway rejects controversial school board candidate

Apr 4, 2018
Originally published on April 5, 2018 5:21 am

By a three-vote margin, residents of Mackenzie Village — a 72-year-old community in south St. Louis County — have voted to dissolve and become an unincorporated part of the county.

Tuesday’s vote was 18-15. The 33 votes represent roughly a quarter of the village’s 134 residents.

The village is the third small town in St. Louis county to dissolve or merge since 2011. The decision was among the most closely-watched issues on Tuesday.

Other notable results include:

  • Voters in the Parkway School District rejected the candidacy of Jeanie Ames, a self-described conservative who some parents had said made comments on social media that were racist and offensive.
  • In Kirkwood, voters turned down a proposal to change the city’s retirement system for all city employees.
  • Voters in three collar counties —Franklin, Warren and Jefferson — approved tax increases to raise the pay of law enforcement officials. Residents in Gasconade County rejected a similar proposal.

Mackenzie Village to dissolve

In Mackenzie Village, the decision to dissolve means various St. Louis County departments will take over the services that the village now provides. That includes plowing streets, maintaining the 13 street lights and providing police protection.

According to the county planning department, after the election results are certified, county Councilman Pat Dolan – whose district includes the village — will introduce legislation appointing a trustee to oversee the transition to county services.

Pat Berry, chairman of the village’s board of trustees, said she was happy by the vote. “It’s what we were working for this past year,’’ said Berry, who’s 85. The trustees are all women ranging in age from 78 to 92.

But Berry added that she understands why some residents opposed the idea of dissolving the village. “They just liked the way things were run, and they wanted to keep it the same.”

Parkway school board fight

Parkway’s school board race drew an outsized level of interest after social media comments made by a self-described conservative candidate were criticized as being racist.

But the controversial candidate, Jeanie Ames, finished well out of the contest for two spots on the west St. Louis County district's Board of Education.

In January, Parkway parents circulated Twitter posts in which Ames appears to call for Islam to be banned from America and imply former first lady Michelle Obama is a giant rat, and said the posts are offensive.

Ames denied being a racist and struck a more congenial tone in public statements and candidate forums than what’s in her social media accounts. She said she ran to be a conservative voice on the board and promote good taxpayer stewardship. Ames never responded to St. Louis Public Radio’s requests for an interview.

Kevin Seltzer and Matthew Schindler will serve on the board after being the top-two vote earners. They received 27 and 30 percent of the vote, respectively. Amy Bonnett finished third with about 18 percent of the vote. Ames and Jonathan Taylor each earned 12 percent.

St. Charles County schools 

Two out of three St. Charles County school districts successfully raised funds to keep up with growing student populations.

Wentzville residents approved a bond measure so their school district can build two schools. Wentzville is the fastest-growing district in the state and opened two new schools this past fall.

Francis Howell voters rejected a property tax increase. The district was asking for a 48-cent levy. The last time voters approved a tax increase was 2004.

Fort Zumwalt residents said yes to a bond measure to pay for school renovations.

Elsewhere:

Voters in Franklin and Warren counties both approved half-cent sales tax increases that will help boost the pay of sheriff's deputies. Franklin County's levy will also provide additional funding for municipal departments, and money for an addition to the county jail.

Voters in unincorporated Jefferson County agreed to a new property tax for law enforcement salaries. The 35-cent levy per every $100 of assessed valuation is the first new funding source for law enforcement in the county since the late 1980s.

Voters in Gasconade County narrowly turned down a proposed half-cent increase "for the purpose of providing law enforcement services in the county."

Officials said the sales and property tax increases were needed to help county sheriff and municipal police salaries keep pace with those of their counterparts in St. Louis County. 

In Kirkwood, voters turned down a proposal that would have shifted its city employees to the state pension system for local governments. The city currently offers a 401(k)-style retirement plan, and officials touted the change as a way to improve benefits, which would help with recruitment.

The campaign pitted Kirkwood police officers and firefighters against each other. Firefighters liked the current system because benefits could be transferred to their families if they die. Police officers wanted the security of knowing that benefits would remain the same regardless of what happens in the stock market.

And in Ellisville, voters renounced a possible merger between St. Louis and St. Louis County, and also opposed the idea of St. Louis joining the county as another municipality.

The vote was 81 percent against a merger between St. Louis and St. Louis County, while 75 percent rejected the idea of St. Louis becoming another municipality.

Former Ellisville Mayor Adam Paul put the two propositions on the ballot in July 2017 to get ahead of a rumored push for a statewide vote on the issue. At that same meeting, Ellisville council members also hired a lobbyist to work against a merger in Jefferson City.

Follow Jo on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Copyright 2018 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.