Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Can Ferguson's black leaders gain power next April?

In April, three of Ferguson’s six city council seats are up for grabs and African-Americans have a chance to end decades of white domination. Two-thirds of the town’s 21,000 population is black. But the mayor, more than 90 percent of the police, and all but one of the council members are white -- an imbalance that has stoked racial tensions in Ferguson long before Brown’s shooting in August.

Based on last Tuesday's turnout, winning council seats might difficult: there was little sign of an uptick in interest in local politics. Forty-two percent of registered voters in Ferguson took part in the highest profile race -- the election for St Louis County executive, which was a drop of 10 percentage points from the last such vote in 2010.

That frustrates Patricia Bynes, a local African-American official in the Democratic Party.

"Every time there’s an election we have to show up. I don’t care if we are voting what color the trash cans are, we need to show up," she said.

Putting up good candidates of its own will be crucial for the African-American community, added David Kimball, a political scientist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Read more: Can Ferguson's black leaders gain power next April?

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