“If Ferguson taught us anything, it is the importance of having representative government. Accountability and fairness come from that,” tweeted St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who is black and gained a national profile by participating in protests and documenting scenes on the ground in Ferguson since the Aug. 9 shooting of Mike Brown by Police Officer Darren Wilson. "Don't feel like you're being represented? Step up. Run for office."
French could not be reached by IBTimes for further comment, but he tweeted Monday that two districts -- Ward 20 and Ward 6 -- have black majorities but no black candidates. Records from the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners from Tuesday morning showed no African-Americans had filed to run since French’s tweets.
Irl Scissors, a lobbyist and former Democratic political consultant based in St. Louis, said ineffective get-out-the-vote efforts and low black-voter registration are some of the barriers black candidates face. In Ferguson, which is 67 percent black, there is only one black city councilman. There are 17 black state legislators in Missouri out of 199 seats, or about 9 percent -- fewer than the state black population of around 12 percent.
“There are cases where predominantly African-American districts are represented by white elected officials and Ferguson is no exception,” Scissors said. “I really think it has to do with voter registration, it has to do with actual voter turnout and it has to do with real grass-roots mobilizing of the African-American community.”