On April 7, Ferguson, Mo., will cast its first votes for local leaders since Michael Brown's death in August, testing whether the anger and calls for reform rising from Ferguson's streets will translate into higher voter turnout and a new direction at the ballot box, says the New York Times. For years, local leaders in Ferguson ran unopposed in elections that drew 12 percent of registered voters, only single-digit percentages of black residents and almost exclusively white candidates.
Now, eight candidates, many first-time political hopefuls, are trying to fill three vacant seats on the seven-member Council. Four African-Americans are running, compared with a total of three in Ferguson's previous 120 years. The Council has one black member, whose term is not finished, and the city is assured of gaining a second after April 7. The Council will need to reach accommodation with the U.S. Justice Department, which this month called for sweeping changes in the city's police and courts in an effort to end discriminatory law enforcement. They will need to find a new city manager and police chief. On Friday, a group of residents began seeking a recall of Mayor James Knowles III.