Local elected officials have demonstrated how vital they are in the movement for social change throughout the tumult of 2020. Between the power to reform police systems and the discretion to implement measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, local officials have an immense impact on our everyday lives. Despite this reality, local elections consistently face lower voter turnout than national elections. How can participating in local elections create the social change that so many seek?
Join us for a conversation with Ferguson Mayor Ella Jones and St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell as they discuss their rise to the call of local leadership and the importance and impact of voting in local elections. Taylor Brown, Master’s Research Fellow for the Gephardt Institute and Research Assistant for the Center for Social Development, will moderate the discussion. Following the conversation, we will provide details and voting information for the primary election in Missouri on August 4.
This event is hosted by the Center for Social Development and the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement with support from the Missouri Foundation for Health.
Register here to submit questions and receive the Zoom link in advance.
The Honorable Ella M. Jones was sworn in as Mayor of Ferguson on June 16, 2020. She is the first female and the first African American to hold the seat since Ferguson’s incorporation in 1894. She holds a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Missouri at St. Louis and has worked in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Washington University in St. Louis. In addition, she holds numerous certificates in municipal leadership, is a pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and is the founder and chairperson of Community Forward, Inc., a nonprofit community development organization. She was elected to the Ferguson City Council in April 2015 as the first African American to represent Ward 1. She has utilized grassroots community organizing to successfully promote police reform and community development.
Wesley Bell is the Prosecuting Attorney for St. Louis County, Missouri. He is the first African American to hold this office. Wesley ran a vigorous grassroots campaign in 2018 and unseated a 28 year incumbent by a 14 point margin. As a leader in criminal justice reform, Wesley is an advocate for ending mass incarceration, reforming cash bail, and rebuilding trust between communities and the prosecutor’s office. A native of St. Louis County, Wesley was raised by a police officer father and county civil servant mother. After graduating from Lindenwood University and the University of Missouri-Columbia law school, Wesley represented hundreds of disenfranchised clients as a Special Public Defender in St. Louis County. Throughout his career, Wesley has led his own criminal defense practice and served as a criminal justice professor and municipal court judge. He served as a Ferguson City Councilman from April 2015 to December 2018.
Taylor Brown is a Master of Social Work candidate at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. He serves as a Master’s Research Fellow for the Gephardt Institute of Civic and Community Engagement and as a Research Assistant for the Voter Access and Engagement project at the Center for Social Development. Taylor served as a policy advisor to Mayor Jones’ campaign and is involved with racial equity work and community development in St. Louis.