This is Part A of the 7th Ward Independent Democrats St. Louis City 7th Ward Alderman Candidate Survey with Responses.
A. The Personal Side of the Candidate. These are the Get to Know the Candidates as persons questions. All three alderman candidates are single without children, so we’re skipping the family question.
A1) Education- Degree/School/City/Year Graduated
John (Jack) Coatar:
Graduate: Juris Doctorate, Saint Louis University School of Law, St. Louis, Dec. 2012
Undergraduate: Economics and Political Science, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, 2008
High School: Blue Valley West, Overland Park, KS, 2004
Graduate: Juris Doctorate with Certificates in Health Law and Policy & Intellectual Property, Saint Louis University School of Law, St. Louis, 2014
Undergraduate: B.A., Biochemistry & Political Science, minors in Spanish & Arabic, Indiana University, 2011
High School: Honors Diploma, Castle High School, Newburgh, Indiana, 2006
Samuel J. Cummings, III:
Undergraduate: Entrepreneurship & Information Technology Management, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, 2012
High School: Saint Louis University High School, St. Louis
A2) Employment: Job Title/Employer/City/Years
John (Jack) Coatar: Self-employed, attorney. Assistant Circuit Attorney, Circuit Attorney’s Office, St. Louis, MO, April 2013 – December 2014.
Chelsea Merta: I currently serve as Director of Policy and Attorney for Faith Aloud, a faith-based progressive social justice organization based in St. Louis. I’ve worked there since 2011. We’ve fought for civil rights for women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, workers, the impoverished, and underrepresented, underserved communities.
Samuel J. Cummings, III: Manager of Technical Solutions, TopOPPS, St. Louis, 1 Year
A3) Professional Memberships
John (Jack) Coatar: Missouri Bar Association
Chelsea Merta: Metropolitan Bar Association of St. Louis, Missouri Bar Association, American Bar Association, Women Lawyers Association, Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity International
Samuel J. Cummings, III: Startup Weekend Committee Member, Downtown T-Rex Business Alumni, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Member, Young Friends Member at Contemporary Art Museum, 3-time GlobalHack Contestant/Speaker/Sponsor
A4) Neighborhood/Community/Civic/Political/Activist Affiliations/Memberships (50 words or less)
John (Jack) Coatar: I’m an active member of the Soulard Restoration Group. I’m also a former commissioner and secretary of the Soulard Special Business District and I’m a member of the Young Democrats of Greater St. Louis.
Chelsea Merta: Volunteer with Legal Advocates for Abused Women in St. Louis City Courts; Volunteer since 2000 and current Service Chair, Ronald McDonald House of Metropolitan St. Louis; Young Zoo Friends; Young Friends of Legal Services of Eastern Missouri; Young Friends of Brightside; 7th Ward Independent Democrats
Samuel J. Cummings, III: Sierra Club EMG Executive Board Member, Soulard Restoration Group Member, Hispanic Leaders Group Executive Board Member, SLU Black Alumni Association Member, SLUH Alumni Member
A5) Political Experience (50 words or less)
John (Jack) Coatar: I was the voter protection coordinator for Senator Claire McCaskill’s 2012 reelection. I’ve also worked as a staffer on the campaigns of Barack Obama and Mayor Slay. I was Executive Director of the St. Louis Democratic City Central Committee from 2009-2012 and a staffer for the Missouri Democratic Party.
Chelsea Merta: Since 2006, I’ve worked on local, state, federal campaigns, including Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign. I was born into public service. My dad has been a police officer for 25 years, his grandfather was county commissioner for 30 years. Nearly every family member belongs to a union; everyone volunteers.
Samuel J. Cummings, III: Ran for State Representative in the Missouri 78th District Democratic Primary Advocated for environmental & gay rights issues in Jeff City; Fought against City Hall to keep our water safe in the #DumpVeolia Campaign. And Fought for Clean Energy Policies against Peabody Coal & Ameren.
John (Jack) Coatar: None
Chelsea Merta: I have two Airedale Terriers that I rescued – Coral (7) and Kilroy (2)
Samuel J. Cummings, III: None
A7) Name your favorite architectural landmark or public art in the 7th Ward and why? (50 words or less)
John (Jack) Coatar: The newly renovated Central Library is my favorite landmark because it shows what we can do when civic leaders work together. The library took millions of public and private dollars and is now a beautiful and functional resource for people throughout the region.
Chelsea Merta: I love our historic 7th Ward residential neighborhoods and Gateway Arch, but my favorite landmark is Old Courthouse at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, where judges presided over court cases that impacted our entire nation, including the Dred Scott and Virginia Minor decisions.
Samuel J. Cummings, III: That’s an easy one: the Arch! With the BallPark Village open and City to River, Blues History Museum & Kiener Plaza projects in the works. The Arch has a bright future in being a rally point for tourist activity.
A8) Name your favorite music genre (one) and favorite musician/band/symphony (one):
John (Jack) Coatar: Rock, Wilco.
Chelsea Merta: Shakira is my all-time favorite musical artist. I grew up speaking Spanish and I appreciated her as an empowered, inspiring woman. Not only is she a legendary musician, she is a philanthropist and activist for women and children in Latin America and the Middle East, two regions to which I have strong personal and family connections.
Samuel J. Cummings, III: Jazz, Miles Davis
A9) Do you plan on working in a paid or volunteer position requiring 20 hours or more a week or running a business in addition to serving as alderman? If yes, please explain. (25 words or less)
John (Jack) Coatar: Yes, I plan on practicing law in addition to being an Alderman.
Chelsea Merta: I will work 56 plus hours a week as a full-time alderwoman and occasionally do some pro bono legal work for nonprofits.
Samuel J. Cummings, III: Yes, I believe politicians should have real jobs. Politicians who live solely on the taxpayers dime put personal careers over people’s interest.
A10) Describe a unique relationship or experience that you have/had that will/would help you serve the 7th Ward better than the other candidates. (75 words or less)
John (Jack) Coatar: The 7th Ward is like no other in the City. Serving all its neighborhoods well will require strong relationships both inside and outside City government. I have existing relationships with both Mayor Slay and President Reed and many members of the Board of Alderman. I think given my political experience I’m best positioned to work with other elected officials pass legislation to improve the 7th Ward and our City.
Chelsea Merta: Because of my career, I have great relationships with many of the community organizations in St. Louis. My most unique relationship, however, is with City Treasurer Tishaura Jones, my mentor during law school. I am honored to have her support in my campaign to become 7th Ward Alderwoman. As Alderwoman, I will support her work to improve financial literacy among St. Louis’ young people and to empower our residents with economic freedom.
Samuel J. Cummings, III: I’m the only candidate who has grown up in the ward as a ward native (Lafayette Square & Soulard); Worked with SLU & Downtown T-Rex to create of jobs in the ward; Worked with SLPS to expand free Pre-K education programs to 1000’s of kids city-wide; Fought in City Hall & Jeff City on behalf of citizens. I’ve proven with my actions how I’ll continue to put people first and develop holistic growth in our community.