PHOTO: Newly elected Clayton Alderwoman Bridget McAndrew, right, is sworn in by Clayton City Clerk June Frazier Tuesday night at Clayton City Hall.
The Clayton Board of Aldermen said goodbye to one longtime member and welcomed a new one Tuesday night.
In a regular yet much more ceremonial meeting, the board certified the April 3 municipal election results and swore in its newest member, Bridget McAndrew.
McAndrew, a local attorney, took the open seat in Clayton’s Ward 3. Her second attempt to serve on the board was a successful one, as she beat out Dr. Andrew Galakatos after losing by just 21 votes three years ago. McAdrew won rather easily this time around, taking 538 votes to Galakatos’ 302.
“I feel very honored to have been elected to serve this community,” McAndrew said. “I feel blessed to live here and I really look forward to getting to work and to work with all of you, and representing the wonderful citizens of Clayton.”
Meanwhile, incumbent Joanne Boulton’s final attempt to keep her seat on the board was a successful one. After serving the citizens of Clayton in Ward 1 for the last six years, Boulton won re-election for her third and final term, beating out challenger Blair Kaiser.
Boulton, who was not in attendance Tuesday night, took more than 58 percent of the votes and got over 100 more than Kaiser (3813 to 271). She has said she will continue to work hard to advocate for projects that have benefitted the area.
In the only uncontested race, Alderman Ira Berkowitz won re-election handily, taking 422 of the 433 votes for Clayton’s Ward 2 seat and was sworn in again for another three-year term.
Prior to the swearing in of both McAndrew and Berkowitz, the board said goodbye to Alderman Alex Berger III. After 15 years on the board, Berger did not seek re-election in 2018.
Berger thanked his wife Cindy and said without her persona and energy he never would’ve run for alderman, let alone win several elections. He also took time to thank Mayor Harold Sanger and each of the other five aldermen.
“The experience of being an alderman in Clayton has been so rewarding and satisfying for me personally,” Berger said. “The principle reason is because of my fellow elected officials. The quality of people who make up this board is remarkable. Each and everyone of you women and men has been a huge contributor to enhancing our community. I personally am a better person because I’ve had the opportunity to work with each of you and become a friend.”
Over the years, Berger has been credited with being involved in just about everything in Clayton. Sanger pointed out the long list of things he has been involved in which include but are not limited to leading the effort to ban smoking in city parks, leading a collaborative effort to solve neighborhood parking and traffic issues at Davis Place, and being a principle advocate for an inclusive and fully accessible playground in Shaw Park.
“Things are not going to be the same without you,” Sanger said. “I cannot think of anybody in recent history who has had the enthusiasm and the influence in the things that have happened in our community other than you for a very long time. The dynamics are going to be different.”
Alderman Mark Winings, who worked with Berger in Ward 3, congratulated him and pointed out the enormous sacrifices he’s made for the city. Through research, Winings estimated Berger has been to 450 board meetings and over 1,000 various committee meetings, adding up to about 100,000 hours of time.
“It’s an enormous sacrifice on your part even though I know you don’t view it as a sacrifice,” Winings said. “We can all tell how much you love this job and this city. Your passion shows in the way that you advocate for our residents and the way you push our excellent staff to be even more excellent.”
Aldermen Richard Lintz recalled the lengthy discussions the board has had over the years and how passionate Berger was whether or not he sided with the other aldermen.
“The sessions were never complete until we’d heard from Alex,” Lintz said. “As passionate as you are about some things and contrarian sometimes, it is very easy for you to turn around and befriend and joke and laugh. That’s part of what’s made this board so collaborative.”
Alderman Ira Berkowitz and Alderwoman Michelle Harris, who has been serving with Berger in a governmental capacity the longest, said board meetings would not be the same without him.
“I met you in 2006 and I’ve been entertained ever since,” Berkowitz said. “Seeing you go is really emotional for me.”