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Martin looks to transition into elected office in run for alderman

ST. LOUIS – Sarah Wood Martin, a background operator in the Missouri Democratic political scene for years, has decided to step out into the open by launching her own bid for public office.

Martin announced her candidacy for alderman of St. Louis’ 11th Ward Jan. 6.

“After this last election, the November election, I felt like I needed to come out from behind the scenes and do something for my neighborhood,” she says.

Martin has a deep resume as a former Missouri House staffer, a Gateway Government Relations associate, executive director for the Midwest Cyber Security Alliance, and as a self-employed political consultant. Beyond those roles, she believes the relationships she has built with those involved in government at every level and across party lines will help propel her to victory. She will contend with Dee Brown, a community activist and founder of the St. Louis Safety Group, and Eddie Tucker, a longtime resident of the district and former candidate.

Martin received a big boost when the ward’s incumbent, former President of the Board of Alderman and St. Louis political legend Tom Villa, announced last week that he would not run for the office again. In a parting gift, Villa endorsed Martin.

“It’s an incredible honor. When I was a 19-year-old intern in Jefferson City, Villa was a state rep and he was intimidating,” Martin says. “It’s just neat the journey that I’ve taken that I have Alderman Villa’s endorsement. He’s an incredibly smart, thoughtful person and to have his confidence is really incredible.”

While Martin is much younger than the 71-year old Villa, she still has a deep political acumen and touts her ability to navigate the political process. She also believes she understands the needs of the 11th Ward. Martin says her constituents want an alderman that can communicate quickly with a district, especially via an active social media presence. On the issues, she’s quick to point out reducing crime as a way to revitalize the area and increase property values.

Martin also has a unique perspective on one of the more particular problems in her neighborhood: prostitution. Martin was appointed by House Speaker Todd Richardson to the Human Trafficking Task Force where she has worked on providing solutions to solve a growing problem in Missouri.

“I understand a lot about why these women do what they do, the system they’re in and how we need to crack down on the johns,” she said. “I think I can create more effective policies to slow that system.”

But perhaps Martin’s most important quality she emphasizes is her political affiliation within the Democratic Party. She notes she gets along well with the younger, more progressive members of the Board of Alderman now, but she also has the support of many older, moderate Democrats as well. She could possibly serve as a bridge between the two groups at a time when the schism in the party is perhaps as deep as it has been in decades.

But most of all, she just wants to represent and help grow her ward, which contains the historic Carondelet neighborhood.

“I don’t think people realize the buildings and houses in that area, which hug the river, are just as beautiful as the ones in Soulard or the Central West End,” Martin says. “I think I can promote the ward to young professionals and young families. I have the skill set to market that and be a voice for South City.”