Stewart is appointed to Sunset Hills board


Joe Stewart

By Erin Achenbach, Staff Reporter

Sunset Hills has a new alderman after Mayor Pat Fribis appointed Bank Star owner Joe Stewart to fill the seat vacated by Ward 1 Alderman Dee Baebler when she moved out of the city in September.

Stewart was confirmed unanimously 6-0 by the Board of Aldermen at a special videoconferenced meeting Oct. 13. Board President Thompson Price was absent.

“After much deliberation,” Fribis said she chose Stewart because he “has been an active voice in the city.”

Bank Star Chairman and CEO Stewart has served on the city’s Finance Committee for five years, and he and his family have lived in Sunset Hills for the past 17 years. A lifelong South County resident, both of his children attended Lindbergh Schools.

“I felt I could do more for the community representing Ward 1 and the city,” Stewart told The Call on accepting the nomination.

Like Baebler, Stewart lives in the Tapawingo subdivision. Although he has never held public office before, he ran for the board in 2018 against Ann McMunn, who won and serves as the other Ward 1 alderman. That seat was previously held by Richard Gau, who was also a CEO and lives in Tapawingo. Stewart will be up for election again in April.

“I think certainly between contacts and relations I’ve built in the area, as well as deep knowledge of city finances, it will help the Board of Aldermen as a whole,” Stewart said. “I’m looking forward to opportunities to grow Sunset Hills, bring in more residential housing, the right kinds of businesses … and continue working on projects that make Sunset Hills safer.”

As a fan of bicycling and the outdoors, Stewart also wants to look into enhancing the city’s outdoor amenities.

“I’m a big fan of bicycling, bike trails … so any type of outdoor hiking activity and anything I can do to enhance that, and trails and parks, are a high level of interest to me,” he said. “The community and the parks are what I like most about living in Sunset Hills.”

Ward 1-specific priorities include protecting the residents of Court Drive from commercial development — currently the subject of a lawsuit between the city and developer George Despotis — and still enabling something to make the lots on Court Drive owned by former residents saleable, in addition to looking at a possible stoplight at West Watson and Gravois roads.

“I think the challenges of my position are the same of that of Sunset Hills,” said Stewart. “Managing zoning in appropriate ways to protect residents, and yet make our city a good place to do business in.”