Based on what has happened and is happening in other cities around the country, St. Peters is preparing for the possibility that requests for similar removals may occur in the future.
Calls for the removal of a memorial or plaque could come from people or groups who disagree with honoring or recognizing a particular war, event or person. However, any permanent removal of existing monuments, memorials and plaques in St. Peters could require a majority vote in favor by the city’s Board of Aldermen.
The board approved an ordinance by a 7-0 vote with one aldermen — Alderman Dave Thomas [Ward 1] — absent at their Sept. 28 meeting that revises the definition of memorials and monuments and establishes board authority to regulate them. Until now, that authority largely rested with the mayor.
Mayor Len Pagano discussed giving the board more authority to regulate memorials and monuments at a board work session on Sept. 14. He asked if a two-thirds vote of the board should be required to remove existing monuments or memorials, including verbiage and titles on city property inside the city limits.
“I really feel that it takes two-thirds of aldermen to say, ‘yes, remove it,’ or, ‘leave it alone.’ One of the two,” Pagano said. But City Special Counsel Randy Weber said putting a requirement into an ordinance would be limited to the board having a simple majority vote and not two-thirds approval.
According to Pagano, the city’s memorials, monuments and plaques date back to about 1974 when then-Mayor Thomas Brown encouraged implementing them to mark the city’s history.
Alderman Jerry Hollingsworth [Ward 2] suggested that repairs or maintenance might not require a vote and the board largely agreed.
Pagano agreed and asked if the board supported putting that into an ordinance. Board members raised no objections and they approved it at their Sept. 28 board meeting.