Jan. 25, 2018 — We are pleased to announce the election results for the Downtown Neighborhood Association Board of Directors. Please welcome to the board:

  • Denis Beganovic (resident candidate) – 55
  • Tavon Brooks (resident candidate) – 66
  • Mary Wolf (resident candidate) – 64
  • Dan Pistor (resident candidate) – 46
  • Brenton Brown (small business candidate) – 21
  • Kristen Linares (small business candidate) – 18

The vote totals of the other resident candidates were:  Bryan King – 19, Ed Kretzler – 29, James Page – 36, Bob Ray – 44, Josh Restivo – 37, Les Sterman – 29

The vote totals of the other small business candidates were:  Gregg Sharpe – 4, Spencer Talbott – 6, Brad Waldrop – 15

These new board members will join Jonathan Andrus (current Chairperson), Dana Kay Goddard (current Vice-chairperson), and Zach McMichael in their work to further DNA’s mission of community building and organizing in order to connect people, create change, and positively impact the historic and economic nucleus of our city and region. We thank everyone who participated in the election both as candidates and voting members, and we continue to be motivated and inspired by your interest in our neighborhood. You can help the new board by completing this community survey.

The new board will hit the ground running at an all-day work session on February 3, and they will have a few large projects to tackle in the coming year.

  1. Taste of Downtown STL expands to two days this year on June 16 and 17 with the help of a new partner, Listen Live Entertainment — the producers of LouFest. Together, we plan to implement exciting new event programming and increase attendance to a projected 20,000.
  2. Our efforts to improve the Gateway Mall Parks west of Tucker will enter a new phase of planning. Designs and budget estimates created with the input you provided via surveys and public meetings, will be released in March, at which time we will seek further guidance from the community. Once the final plan has been approved, we will apply for funding with the Gateway Foundation. In addition to those efforts, we have received commitments from 7th Ward Alderman Jack Coatar and 6th Ward Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia to provide funding for this project.
  3. We will be applying for funding to expand our voter engagement efforts in the neighborhood to include activities around voter registration, voter education, and voter turnout. If funding is secured, this work will be conducted in a non-partisan and unbiased manner consistent with our past efforts. Our goal is to increase civic engagement in our neighborhood regardless of people’s political views.
  4. We are working to increase awareness around the complex issue of homelessness and to advocate for solutions and resources for the unhoused. We have many neighbors in our community who do not currently have homes, and we plan to do our part to ensure housing is available to them. We will continue to engage with the St. Louis City Continuum of Care to improve the provider network and lend the perspectives of our communities to its actions. We will be exploring opportunities to raise funds specifically for programs working to end homelessness.
  5. We plan to put energy and resources into increasing diversity in our membership and leadership by engaging with minority-owned businesses to ensure they are included in existing programming, and making a more intentional effort to better engage all of our neighbors.
  6. Continuing and strengthening our partnerships with the City of St. Louis Continuum of Care, City Hall, Downtown STL, Inc., Downtown St. Louis Community Improvement District, Forward Through Ferguson, Locust Central Business District, St. Louis Development Corporation, and other organizations working to improve our community.

We hope you will join us at an upcoming happy hour, coffee event, or town hall, and we encourage those of you who are interested in getting more involved to consider joining a committee or special project team. To learn more, contact our Executive Director, Jared Opsal, at jared@saintlouisdna.org. We look forward to working together to continue to make Downtown a safe, thriving, and welcoming neighborhood.

Regarding our 2018 board elections, please let the new board know how you think we can streamline future elections and prevent confusion in the future by filling out this short survey.

Ballot counting following the board elections on Monday, January 8 was delayed as we worked through questions regarding some small business and resident applicants and eventually decided to work with a legal team at Husch Blackwell. They provided clarity and oversight to the process to ensure we were consistent and fair in our determinations concerning the large influx of small business member applications and resident applications prior to and on election day. With regard to small business applicants, they took into account our emphasis on owner-operated street-level businesses, which began with our three-year grant agreement with the Downtown St. Louis Community Improvement District in 2015. In that agreement we agreed to focus on the first floor merchants of Downtown St. Louis, and we have been consistent in that effort. Furthermore, we allow others to be voting members who have an owner-operated establishment open to the public in an office building, such as an owner-operated business open to the public offering tax services. All other entities are welcome to join the association as non-voting members if they wish to support our mission and remain engaged with our association.

In light of these questions, the DNA Board felt it necessary to re-certify all previously approved small business members to ensure we are treating everyone equally and they lived up to standard we have used in the past of them being an owner-operated business that is open to the public. This is easy to measure for a business such as a restaurant or shop that someone can walk into and patronize, but much more difficult for an entity with no discernible storefront or office. In order to gather as much empirical information as possible about the more difficult to determine entities the following was gathered about each those kind of applicants:

Business Name, Business Address, Other Applicants/Members with this Address, Billing Address, Email Address, Website, Phone Number, Is it a Street-Level Storefront/Office, Is it a Storefront/Office Not on the Street-level, Is it Open to the Public, Is it Owner-operated, What Goods/Services are Sold/Provided, Who is the Registered Agent for the Business, Is the Entity Listed on the City of St. Louis’ Assessor’s Office, Does it Have a City of St. Louis Business License, Is it Registered with the State of Missouri, When Did it Apply for Membership

The team at Husch Blackwell has reviewed our determinations and believe they are in compliance with our bylaws and in agreement with past practices. Furthermore, we will be asking the denied resident and small business member applicants to provide further information that can be taken into consideration for purposes of establishing membership in the future and for future voting.