Yamiche Alcindor, USA TODAY
FERGUSON, Mo. (USA Today)—Voters in Ferguson, Mo., go to the polls Tuesday with an opportunity to transform the city’s political fabric and put as many as three African Americans on the City Council for the first time in the city’s history.
The St. Louis suburb drew worldwide attention as racial strife gripped the city following the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer last summer. Protesters thronged the city, claiming Ferguson’s majority-white police force harassed black residents while the city’s white politicians did nothing. A Justice Department report last month confirmed a broad pattern of biased policing that singled out African Americans for excessive arrests and harsh punishment.
If a black candidate in Ward 1 wins her race, it will be the first time that African Americans make up half of the six council members in a city where two-thirds of the residents are black. One sitting council member not up for re-election is black, and two black candidates are seeking the Ward 3 council seat. Mayor James Knowles, who is white, holds the seventh seat on the council. He is not up for re-election.