Jan. 16, 2018 — This year’s election for the DNA Board of Directors has garnered unprecedented interest. An influx of new resident and small business membership applications received in the days prior to and on the day of the election are causing a delay in determining and announcing election results. Once all new applications have been verified, we will proceed. In the interim, all ballots from the January 8 Annual Town Hall meeting are being held by the City of St. Louis Board of Elections.

Residential Members may vote for resident board candidates, of which four will be elected this cycle, while Small Business Members are able to vote for small business board candidates, of which two will be elected. The two membership groups heard from candidates and voted separately at the Annual Town Hall meeting on Monday, January 8. Prior to the meeting, it came to the attention of DNA Executive Director Jared Opsal and DNA Board of Directors that several of the new small business applicants were not eligible for DNA Small Business Membership. A determination was made that these applicants were, therefore, not eligible to vote, per the process and criteria outlined in the DNA Bylaws. After alerting these applicants of their ineligibility in advance of the meeting, a Small Business Member and board candidate threatened litigation if this original determination were to be upheld. Furthermore, DNA received a large amount of residential membership applications accompanied by proxy forms to vote during January 8th’s election.

A discussion amongst DNA leadership followed, and it was decided that in order to maintain transparency around the voting process and preserve the confidence of the DNA membership, as well as protect the organization from any potential legal attacks, the process of qualifying small business and residential applicants and counting eligible votes for this election would be delayed until the following day in order to allow for the DNA Board of Directors to thoroughly review the DNA Bylaws and all recent Small Business and Residential Member applicants. Before the January 8 Annual Town Hall meeting concluded, an announcement of the delay was made to all present board candidates and members.

The following day the DNA Chairman discussed the issue further with the DNA Executive Director and decided to postpone the January 9th Board Meeting. This was done to investigate the issue further and to pursue guidance from outside legal counsel, and the board met on Friday, January 12 to approve of this action. DNA Board Members, with guidance from counsel, will provide a thorough review of the membership definitions in the DNA Bylaws to ensure they are being interpreted correctly and ethically. The board intends to meet on Thursday, January 18 to take outside counsel’s guidance to verify membership applications, count ballots, and announce election results. DNA leadership takes this situation seriously, and plans to provide transparency around the process and findings that will follow. It should also be noted that any revisions made to the DNA Bylaws must be approved by membership.

DNA is a grassroots non-profit that undertakes community building and organizing in order to connect people, create change, and positively impact the historic and economic nucleus of our city and region. Our organization is made up of passionate volunteers and guided by our Executive Director, Jared Opsal. We consistently strive to represent the best interest of our members and to improve our community. As an organization, we will continue to grow and improve over the weeks, months, and years ahead.

As of December 31, 2017, the Saint Louis Downtown Neighborhood Association had approximately 750 Residential Members and 50 Small Business Members.

All inquiries should be directed to Jared Opsal, 314-669-4534, jared@saintlouisdna.org.