Ferguson, the St. Louis suburb where Michael Brown was killed by a white cop last summer, voted yesterday. Viewed from across the country, the results seem mixed.
Two-thirds of Ferguson’s 21,000 residents are Black. Yet there had only been one African American on the city council. The new city council will be replacing the city manager. The previous occupant of that position resigned after the city's racist law enforcement practices were excoriated in a Department of Justice report. The new city manager will have to supervise a new police chief as the previous chief also has left.
Turnout was way up -- 30 percent rather than 12 percent of eligible voters who participated in the last election. Given that these elections are held in April of odd numbered years, it is amazing that anyone votes.
Three council seats were open. An African American woman, Ella Jones, who seems to have had activist support, replaced a white council member who did not stand for re-election. Two Black men ran in Ward 3 where Michael Brown was shot, so Wesley Bell has added another African American face to the council. In Ward 2, two white men ran. A former Ferguson mayor, Brian P. Fletcher, who had peddled “I Love Ferguson” t-shirts in opposition to the protests, triumphed.
In the run up to the election, Democratic committeewoman Patricia Bynes explained why increasing Black turnout is so laborious:
Ferguson has made a start on a new history, but nothing comes easy.