Newcomers are Dimmitt, O’Neill, Sims; swearing-in April 18
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
The Brentwood Board of Aldermen gained three new members, almost four, in the April 5 general municipal election.
Voters replaced Maureen Saunders with David Dimmitt in Ward 1, and Patrick Toohey with Kathy O’Neill in Brentwood Forest, Ward 4. They came nine votes shy of replacing Andy Leahy with John “Rocky” Ritter in Ward 3.
Joining newcomers Dimmitt and O’Neill is Sunny Sims, who ran unopposed in Ward 2. She will replace Cindy Manestar.
City Administrator Bola Akande said the new board members will be sworn in on April 18 “if the city receives the certified election results in time.” She added that election officials have 14 days from election day to certify the results.
Brentwood voters also approved Proposition B, which keeps the existing sales tax on out-of-state and person-to-person vehicle sales. It passed by about 82 percent to 18 percent.
Leahy by a hair over Ritter
The closest race was in Ward 3, where 15-year incumbent Leahy beat the challenger John “Rocky” Ritter by only eight votes, 223-215.
“I am very grateful to the residents of Ward 3 who continue to support me,” Leahy said. “And I am extremely grateful to Louise Charboneau and my wife for helping make the campaign even work.”
Speaking from his home at about 10:30 p.m. after a long day of campaigning, Leahy said he hadn’t yet had time to process the close vote. He then added, “My wife is telling me I’m taking tomorrow off.”
Ritter found out the result at an election watch party at Core 3, a fitness studio in the Hanley Industrial Court. Around 50 people attended, including Dimmitt, Sims, Toohey and Mayor Chris Thornton. When the complete election results first appeared on a large screen, a few cheered for Dimmitt’s victory but the overall response was muted, presumably because Ritter and Toohey had been defeated.
“I think it certainly says something about how the people in Ward 3 feel about their current representation,” Dimmitt said of Ritter’s narrow loss. “Here’s a guy who has really come out of nowhere and he lost by only eight votes. To me that says something about the level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the constituents in Ward 3.”
O’Neill beats incumbent Toohey
Like Leahy, O’Neill wasn’t ready to analyze how she had beaten two-term incumbent Toohey by 41 votes, 144-103.
“I don’t know – I can’t say, I’m a political novice,” said O’Neill, a retired schoolteacher. “I just want to thank everybody who voted and I look forward to serving the citizens of Brentwood.”
O’Neill was pleased with the turnout from Brentwood Forest voters, which she said exceeded the turnout in the April 2015 mayoral election.
Dimmitt defeats Saunders
Like O’Neill, Dimmitt beat a two-term incumbent in Maureen Saunders. But he won by a more decisive 179 votes.
“I’m obviously thrilled,” said Dimmitt, an attorney. “It was a lot of work for the last six months, the last three of which I made the goal to knock on every door and I did meet that goal. I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people and I learned a lot of their concerns about what they want to see done with the city. I’m going to certainly try and do that.”
Dimmitt said his desire to run was planted in 2013 when the board rejected a request from Boys Hope Girls to rezone a residential property to allow location of a group home here. The four who voted to deny the request were Leahy, Cindy Manestar, Tom Kramer and Anthony Harper.
“This has been in the works for a number of years,” Dimmitt said. “It started back in August of 2013 with the defeat of Boys Hope Girls Hope. A number of us said we’re tired with how the board is operating and we decided to try to change things up. We knew we had an election 18 months later in April of 2015 and we knew we weren’t done — we had another election in April of 2016. So we’ve won some and we’ve lost some but we’re not done.”
Board gets Sunny
Sunny Sims ran unopposed in Ward 2 and will replace Manestar. She is an attorney for Wasinger Daming, located in the Magna Place building here. She was born and raised in the St. Louis area and moved to Brentwood in 2011. She bought and rehabbed a home in the Forest Hills neighborhood off Spanish Drive.
“I live here and I work here so I’m very interested in the comprehensive plan, having a deliberate plan for development,” she said at the Core 3 party, after enjoying a victory dinner with friends at Frank Papa’s. “I specialize in business banking and real estate, so it’s a natural fit in terms of evaluating real estate projects and other things going on in Brentwood.”
Sims is used to people asking her about her unique first name.
“Sunny is a nickname,” she said. “My formal name is Evelyn Sims. I was named after my grandmother but from day one I was nicknamed Sunny. So to cops and judges I’m Evelyn, and to everyone else I’m Sunny.”
Brentwood’s new board of aldermen
Ward 1: David Plufka, David Dimmitt
Ward 2: Keith Slusser, Sunny Sims
Ward 3: Andy Leahy, Steve Lochmoeller
Ward 4: Thomas Kramer, Kathy O’Neill
St. Louis County Election Board results
David Dimmitt, 388 votes, 64.99%
Maureen Saunders, 209 votes, 35.01%
Sunny Sims, 164 votes, 93.71%
Write-in, 11 votes, 6.29%
Andy Leahy, 223 votes, 50.45%
John “Rocky” Ritter, 215 votes, 48.6%
Write-in, 4 votes, 0.90%
Kathy O’Neill, 144 votes, 58.30%
Patrick Toohey, 103 votes, 41.70%
Out-of-state sales tax continuation
Yes, 1,228 votes, 82.36%
No, 263 votes, 17.64%