St. Louis mayor says he will approve redistricting despite complaints it is racist

Wednesday, December 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Mayor Francis Slay says he will sign into law a redistricting plan that was approved over the shouts and screams of opponents who call it racist and bigoted.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved the redistricting plan 19-7 on Tuesday, despite the protests led by Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, who represents the north side 20th ward that is 98 percent black.

Under the new plan, Tyus' ward will cover a racially diverse area on the city's southeast side. Tyus said she plans to challenge the redistricting in federal court, contending it violates the federal Voting Rights Act.

``Certain people have not understood that black people have a voice,'' Tyus said.

Five of the 19 aldermen who voted in favor of the new map are black. Tyus said she would work to defeat them in the next election. All seven who voted against the plan are black.

In the last decade, the city has lost population, especially on the largely black north side, the mayor noted. ``It's balanced. It's fair,'' Slay said of the redistricting.

The board currently has 15 white and 13 black aldermen. Acting Board President James Shrewsbury said the new map creates an opportunity for one more black alderman, since it creates 14 wards with a black majority of at least 60 percent.

``The accusation this is a racist map is totally and completely untrue,'' Shrewsbury said.