The city of Green Park has installed three new aldermen — half the Board of Aldermen — in the past three months, following the municipal election in June and an appointment by the mayor. And as the city celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, one of the aldermen is a throwback to the city’s incorporation.
Ronald Slattery, one of the original aldermen when Green Park was first incorporated in 1995, and resident Martin Finn were elected to represent Ward 2 and Ward 3, respectively, in the June municipal elections, which were postponed from April due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At the August board meeting, Mayor Tim Thuston appointed Esad Softic to the position of Ward 1 alderman, since no candidate ran for the seat after a candidate disqualification led to an empty ballot.
Softic’s appointment was unanimously approved by the rest of the board, with the motion to install Softic as Ward 1 representative coming from fellow Ward 1 Alderman Michael Broughton, who had initially requested that the mayor consider resident Carol Hamilton be appointed to the vacancy. Hamilton formerly served in the Ward 1 role.
Softic is the second alderman Thuston has appointed since being elected mayor last year. Scott Treece was appointed to the office when former Ward 1 Alderman Tony Pousosa resigned in July 2019.
Slattery defeated incumbent James Jones Jr. and resident Donald Lattray in a three-way race for the Ward 2 seat in the June election. Slattery won with 55.12 percent of the vote, compared to Jones’ 32.29 percent and Lattray’s 12.6 percent.
Finn ran unopposed for the Ward 3 seat, which belonged to longtime board President Fred Baras. He served as an alderman for over two decades, before opting not to seek re-election this year.
Slattery was one of the first members of the Board of Aldermen when Green Park was officially incorporated in 1995. The first board initially consisted of only four members — two from each ward, with members selected by then-6th District Councilwoman Deborah Kersting.
Before the end of 1995, a third ward was added to the city and two additional aldermen were appointed, one of whom was Slattery.
“With six children, I actually had five jobs at the time. I just couldn’t continue as alderman at that time,” Slattery told The Call on why he ran for Ward 2 so long after his first term. “Now that I’ve been released from most of those jobs, I have more time to be an alderman. It’s a good opportunity to see if we can improve the city, not that I have any qualms with the city as a whole. I think we’ve been developing quite well and I’d like to work on those improvements.”
Slattery was sworn in at the July 20 meeting and in remarks to the board, said that he had lived in Green Park for 26 years with his wife, and has worked at Busch Stadium for 25 years, although that job is currently on hold because of COVID-19.
“I have a pretty good understanding of how the city has developed and how the city will become as time goes on. So with that understanding, I have a pretty good sense in the direction that it is going to go,” said Slattery, who identified slowing down traffic on Mueller Road and in the Ronnie Hills subdivision as some of his priorities as alderman.
Slattery said that despite Green Park’s small population, his favorite thing about living in the city is its residents.
“They’re all very friendly and I just really have enjoyed talking to them a lot. I run about two miles a day … so I get a chance to get out and see them and talk to them,” Slattery said. “They’re all very cordial, all saying hi. That’s what really makes this city really nice. … It’s a small city, but we’re all very cordial to each other.”
Finn, who was also sworn in July 20, is a four-year resident of the city, and a five-and-a-half-year resident of the St. Louis region.
“I’m a little bit new here in terms of the area but I like the area, the people here and everything else around here,” Finn said after taking office.
Softic, 25, is possibly the youngest person to currently serve on an elected South County board. The new alderman told The Call that he first learned about the Ward 1 vacancy through a neighbor in late July. He was walking in his neighborhood when she told him that he could be a good fit as a city official and encouraged him to reach out to the city.
“At first I didn’t know much about being an alderman,” said Softic, who grew up in South County and graduated from Mehlville High School in 2013, the same year he moved to Green Park. “I reached out to Mayor Thuston and had a conversation with him, and he felt that I would be good.”
Softic moved to the St. Louis area with his parents in 1999 from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2018 with a degree in information systems and works as an application software developer.
“I want to know more about how cities work and how everything works together. I do want to understand the community better, so later in life when I move into one I can be a part of it and really give back,” said Softic on why he pursued the vacant seat. “I want to be able to help people as much as I can.”
Despite being the youngest member of the board, Softic said that he feels that all the aldermen listen and give everyone the same amount of say. He says the biggest challenge so far has been learning rules and procedures, as well as the code. So far, all his meetings have been videoconferenced.
“They gave me the code book of Green Park. It’s pretty thick and it’s going to take a little time to get through it,” Softic said. “I never really saw myself going in that (public office) direction, but I’m way more interested in it than I thought.”
As for his favorite thing about the city, it’s all in the name.
“It sounds funny, but my favorite thing is the (Blake C. Snyder Memorial) Park,” he said. “It was a place I went to a lot during the COVID shutdown, and it’s really nice having it that close to my house.”
Baras leaves after decades on board
The city honored longtime Board of Aldermen President Fred Baras of Ward 3 at its July meeting, proclaiming July 20, 2020 as “Fred Baras Day” in the city in his honor.
Baras, who was board president at the time of his departure, served as Ward 3 alderman for over two decades before opting not to seek re-election this year. Green Park aldermanic terms are two years.
“His dedication to the city and its residents has been obvious … He was always ready to offer his insight and service,” said Thuston while virtually presenting Baras with a proclamation on behalf of the city.
Baras’ seat was won by Finn, who ran for the seat in the June election and won unopposed.
Baras has lived in Green Park for over 22 years and in the South County area for over 30 years. In addition to his time as alderman, Baras was also the president of the South County Chamber of Commerce from 2012-2013 and is a member of the St. Louis Association of Realtors.
“We wish to recognize Fred Baras for his service and … deep dedication to his community,” said Thuston.
“Thank you for 20 years. … Thank you everybody in Green Park,” said Baras in closing remarks. “We’ve done a hell of a lot. … We got to keep this thing moving forward. We’ve done a lot of hard work.”