City Council elections in Ferguson, Missouri, will take place today in what will perhaps be the most nationally publicized race for a city with a population of just over 21,000 people.
Ever since 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, was shot and killed by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, the Missouri town has been a focal point of recent discussions about race and police brutality across the country.
On March 4, the Department of Justice released a damning report that exposed a troubling trend of racial discrimination, systemic exploitation against black residents, and unnecessary uses of force against minorities by the Ferguson Police Department. Within the week, three key Ferguson officials were let go, including city manager John Shaw, municipal judge Ronald Brockmeyer, and police chief Thomas Jackson. The city council will eventually decide who will fill those three key positions.
Three council seats from all three of Ferguson's wards – there are two council members per ward – are up for grabs. And of the eight candidates looking to fill them, four are black. Currently, one of the six sitting council members is black. Historically, a total of three black city council members have ever been elected in Ferguson, even though 67% if the city's residents are black.
As diverse as the candidates are racially, they vary even more greatly in terms of their political involvement in the city. Some, like former mayor of Ferguson Brian Fletcher of Ward 3, have experience holding political positions, while others, like entrepreneur Adrienne Hawkins of Ward 1, are more reflective of the city's demographic.
BuzzFeed News published a fuller breakdown of the candidates in March. The current Ferguson leadership did not respond to a request for comment.