New faces are coming to the Ferguson city council after yesterday’s historic election, where two Black candidates were voted to the council.
Wesley Bell, a lawyer and criminology professor, and Ella Jones, a Mary Kay sales director, were elected to two of the three seats up for election, joining one other Black official, Dwayne T. James, on the six-seat council. The third councilman-elect, Brian Fletcher who is White, is a former mayor of Ferguson.
Twenty-nine percent of voters showed up at the polls, more than doubling the dismal 12 percent who voted in last year’s municipal elections.
“This community came out in record numbers to make sure our voices were heard,” Bell told the Associated Press. “When you have a community engaged, the sky is the limit.”
The three councilpersons are entering office amidst high racial tensions in Ferguson following the August killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by former officer Darren Wilson. One of the most pressing issues for this council will be figuring out a way to restore public trust and revamp the broken justice system that was highlighted in last month’s Department of Justice report. The six members are also tasked with hiring replacements for both the city manager and the police chief, both of who vacated their jobs in the wake of the report.
“We need to double down and implement policing where departments are part of the community and not distant from the community,” Bell told USA TODAY.