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'We want to feel safe and be heard': Residents question St. Louis aldermanic president candidates at forum

"We need the city services that we pay for," said one Tower Grove South resident.

ST. LOUIS — Thursday night, the fight between two local board of aldermen members continued for the St. Louis citywide seat of the president of the board.

The seat became vacant after the slew of indictments that came down against three local board of aldermen including the former president, Lewis Reed, who was in power since 2007, according to the St. Louis Business Journal.

Megan Green, 15th ward alderwoman, and Jack Coatar, who is the 7th ward alderman, heard local concerns during the 25th alderman ward candidate forum hosted Thursday by the St. Louis public library Carpenter branch.

They packed the auditorium at the St. Louis Carpenter Branch Library in south city.

Several dozen citizens wrote their concerns down on index cards for the candidates. Several neighborhood groups, unhappy with the city’s crime problem, lack of police presence, and aggressive panhandling, voiced their concerns at the forum.

"I want to see what are they planning on doing? What are they actually going to do?" said Tower Grove South resident Arthur Williams.

"I'm frustrated that the progress of this neighborhood is at risk," said Rebekah Keen, who also lives in Tower Grove South.

Keen and other homeowners told Green and Coatar they're tired of seeing gun violence, vandalism and car break-ins ruining their neighborhoods, and not seeing enough police patrol their streets.

"My wife's lug nuts were stolen off her car. They only let two lug nuts. I couldn't believe it," said Arthur Williams.

The frustrated residents also say trash, old mattresses and other dirty, bulky items keep piling up in their alleys because city crews aren't routinely picking up the mess.

Plus, they want to know what will happen to the nearby, former Fanning Middle School that's been vacant for more than a year.

"We need to get back to the basics. We need city services that we pay for. They need to be consistent and we need to feel safe," said Rebekah Keen.

Both Green and Coatar promised, if elected, residents' pleas won't fall on deaf ears.

 "I'm not going to claim you can fix every problem in the city as the president of the Board of Aldermen, but it's about priorities," said Alderman Jack Coatar.

"We need to have government that works together. That knows how to collaborate, so we can get business done for residents," said Alderwoman Green.

“Everything from better service delivery to equitable development is contingent upon us getting back to people’s business,” Green added.

Green and Coatar say they hope to have another debate before the Nov. 8 election.

Right now, no date is set.

The winner of the November election will serve until next spring, when a new election for aldermanic president would take place.

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