ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed has resigned, he confirmed in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
Mary Goodman, a spokeswoman for Reed's office, said the resignation was effective immediately.
Reed was resisting calls to resign on Monday, four days after federal prosecutors charged him with accepting cash bribes in exchange for rewarding business owners with tax breaks. Reed, former Alderman John Collins Muhammed and former Alderman Vice-President Jeffrey Boyd were all indicted on federal bribery charges.
"I am heartbroken and saddened to have to make the difficult decision to step down and end my time as President,” Reed then wrote in a public letter Tuesday, adding that he needs to focus on his family and the legal challenges ahead.
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones addressed the resignations and the accusations against the former aldermen Wednesday morning, calling the allegations troubling.
"All three did the right thing in resigning," the mayor said. "Now our city can take the first tentative steps in moving forward.
Jones acknowledged it's been a troubling few weeks for the city, with three elected officials stepping down amid controversy.
"This is a stain on our city, but it will not prevent us from becoming fairer, safer and stronger," she said.
The mayor also expanded on her written statement Tuesday that read "this problem runs deeper than a few individuals."
"We’ve known that aldermanic courtesy has been something that has been at the board for a long time," Jones said, replying to a reporter's question. "We don’t know how many other people are involved, and I think there are more federal indictments to come. I don’t know that, but I think that this is the tip of the iceberg."
Jones said her office remains focused on doing what's best for the residents of the city.
At least six members of the Board of Aldermen – Bill Stephens, Tina Pihl, Christine Ingrassia, Anne Schweitzer, Cara Spencer and Megan Green – had publicly called for Reed to resign. Others called on him privately to step down.
On his way out of the federal courthouse in downtown St. Louis on Thursday afternoon, Reed signaled he planned to dig in and fight the charges while he keeps his job.
“I think you can tell when politicians are acting from their heart and he's one of them,” Emily Cullins said.
She is disappointed after working on campaigns to get Reed elected.
"I'll always believe that he's of great character and someone who did great things for the city of St. Louis,” Cullins said.
Alderman Joe Vollmer is now preparing to wear a new hat.
"I am Interim President of the Board of Aldermen…I assume all his duties,” Vollmer said.
He said it's a temporary move until a special election in November. When that time comes, Vollmer says he will not run to be president full-time. Instead, he will seek re-election as an alderman.
As for the alleged actions of his former counterparts.
"In people's worse dreams, this is what they think of. This is something you see in the movies and that's how people assume actions are occurring…When you're elected to serve people, you're held to a little higher standard,” Vollmer said.
"I just think the court of public opinion has been trying him so far,” Cullins added.
Reed's full statement is as follows:
For nearly 20 years, I have dedicated my time and efforts to the betterment of the City of St. Louis. And I am proud to say that throughout the years, we’ve accomplished a lot.
Throughout my time in public service, I have had the great honor of playing a role in many accomplishments for the City such as: the accreditation of our public school system; creating alternative means of transportation, including Bike St. Louis; the creation of a historic $37M small business development program for North St. Louis; establishing the first program at SLPS to help transient students; leading St. Louis to become the first city in the Midwest to commit to 100% clean energy; securing funding for body cameras for our police; bringing the Sprint 1M program to SLPS to help with the homework gap; supporting our hard working city employees through legislation, events and more; leading the creation of the SLDC Equitable Economic Development Framework; bringing Cure Violence to St. Louis, and along with it a significant drop in homicides; sponsoring legislation to establish the new MLS stadium; sponsoring legislation to make Juneteenth a paid city holiday; setting up free covid-19 testing sites in North St. Louis; creating a free gun lock giveaway program at city fire houses to promote children’s safety in gun-owning households; increasing funding for programs for our seniors and youth and much, much more.
Throughout the years, the Board of Aldermen has never worked more collaboratively and cohesively. For the second time, we were able to pass a redistricting map with unanimous support. We have been able to come together, share our differences and move forward many pieces of legislation that have transformed our City.
Whether it was help with trash service requests, crime victim support, or any other citizen need, my team and I have worked tirelessly for the future of the City of St. Louis and we were always honored to help.
When you choose a career in public service, your family ultimately sacrifices the most and many hours spent together. But for me and my family, we wouldn’t have done it any other way. This has been the honor of a lifetime.
That is why I am heartbroken and saddened to have to make the difficult decision to step down and end my time as President of the Board of Aldermen.
The President of the Board of Aldermen is a unique position with both legislative and executive duties. With this being such a pivotal time for our City, I wanted to ensure to have the necessary discussions over the past few days to add whatever insight and experience I could to make the transition of my office as smooth as possible. It is essential to assure the citizens have access and the best service available in such a pivotal role. I cannot fulfill these duties as I take the time to focus on my family and my current legal challenges.
This was a very difficult decision, but this is what I need to do for my family and to ensure a fully functional city government that our citizens deserve.
Thank you, St. Louis, for the greatest challenge and honor of my life.
Lewis E. Reed
In a statement, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said Reed made the right decision to resign. The full statement is as follows:
"By resigning in the face of disturbing federal corruption charges, Lewis Reed did the right thing for our city. The shocking indictment represents a betrayal of everyday St. Louisans who Reed claimed to serve for his two decades at the Board.
"It’s no secret Lewis Reed and I have been at odds for years, but I remain disappointed it came to this. The troubling charges brought by the US Attorney pull back the curtain to highlight how those elected may exploit our city for their own benefit and profit; this has been an incredibly dispiriting, but necessary, moment of reflection for our city. I’m praying for the loved ones whose world has been turned upside-down in the past week through no fault of their own.
"Let me be clear: This problem runs deeper than a few individuals. St. Louisans deserve better, and I am committed to working alongside fellow leaders to begin the difficult process of restoring trust and integrity in our city government."
Following the announcement of Reed's resignation, Comptroller Darlene Green issued the following statement:
“We are grateful that Mr. Reed has decided to do the right thing; and with his resignation, the city can now move forward."