Confusion Cleared: Saunders Will Run

Maureen Saunders was elected as the Ward 1 Alderwoman in 2012. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Maureen Saunders was elected as the Ward 1 Alderwoman in 2012. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Accepts offer from residents to ‘campaign on my behalf’

By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit

After weeks of confusion about who is and isn’t running for Ward 1 alderman in Brentwood’s April 5 municipal election, incumbent Maureen Saunders notified the Brentwood Spirit via email on Feb. 29 that she will run against David Dimmitt. After announcing on Feb. 6 that she would withdraw from the election, she said on Feb. 29 that she had decided to accept an offer from residents to campaign on her behalf.

Dimmitt filed for candidacy on Dec. 15. Saunders filed on Jan. 19, but 18 days later, on Feb. 6, she announced in an email to news media that she planned to withdraw from the race. She didn’t explicitly state her reasons other than to say “I have been labeled as being negative, when my primary concern has been on moving the city forward with best practices and procedures.”

However, as of Feb. 26, several weeks after Saunders’s email, the St. Louis County Election Board had not received a withdrawal request from her. An election official explained that her name could not be taken off the ballot at this late date without a court order.

But on Feb. 29 Saunders sent an email to the Brentwood Spirit declaring that she will not withdraw. Her note reads as follows:

Statement from Maureen Saunders regarding April 5, 2016 election:

I decided to withdraw from the election because I was dealing with relocating aging parents and did not have the time to run a strong campaign. I contacted St. Louis County Election Board and was told I needed a court order to withdraw my name. I decided to just leave my name on the ballot.

I have been contacted by many citizens offering to run a campaign to re-elect me as their Ward 1 Alderman. These citizens asked me to continue to fight for the residents’ best interests.

I have accepted the residents offer to campaign on my behalf. If I am re-elected as the Ward 1 Alderman, I will gladly and wholeheartedly continue to represent the interest of the residents. I love the City of Brentwood and have always been honored to help serve the schools and our city. It is a way for me to give back to the community and show our youth that their voice does make a difference in the world.

Dimmitt: Confusion ‘problematic’ but  ‘it doesn’t really matter’

Dimmitt said in a Feb. 28 interview that the confusion about Saunders had been “problematic” for him as he campaigned. He said people commonly ask him whom he is running against and he has replied, “Well, Maureen Saunders, but then she withdrew.” But when he kept seeing that she had not withdrawn, despite her Feb. 6 announcement to the news media, he worried that voters would see her name on the ballot and think he had been dishonest.

“I have expressed this concern to the city,” he said.

Dimmitt added that he was proceeding with his campaign to win the Ward 1 seat whether or not Saunders appeared on the ballot.

“I’ve been going door to door for five weekends meeting people and some have asked if I’m running against somebody. … I tell people that it doesn’t really matter to me. Because I have never once said I’m running against Maureen Saunders. What I’m doing is running to be the next alderman for Ward 1. Whether she’s running or not is immaterial to me. My whole goal here is to knock on every single door in Ward 1 and introduce myself. … I want to get to know these people. It’s been a wonderful process — I’m hearing a lot of suggestions and ideas and concerns.”

David Dimmitt at a Brentwood Planning and Zoning meeting.
David Dimmitt at a Brentwood Planning and Zoning Commission meeting in 2015.

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