A Black grandmother with two jobs can add her name to Hazelwood, Missouri, history books now that she’s become the first African-American elected to that St. Louis suburb’s City Council. The woman won with almost 80 percent of the votes for her seat.
According to St. Louis Today, on Tuesday, April 5, Lisa M. Matlock won her seat in the Hazelwood City Council as a write-in candidate representing Ward 5. Thirty-seven out of 48 votes cast went to Matlock, who said people really came out to support her.
“It’s nice to know that people are there for me,” the 62-year-old said. “And I’ll be there for them.”
As historic as the election has been, her serving the city in this capacity is not new.
She ran for the seat in 2016 and lost, but she stayed engaged. When the seat became vacant in 2021, political titan Robert Aubuchon appointed Matlock to the seat that May, making her the first Black person to serve as a Council member.
Aubuchon understood the significance of the appointment but said he did it because she had made an impression on him, saying, “I don’t think skin color should make a difference.”
Matlock said this is a welcome change for the community she serves.
“A lot of people said it’s about time. One gentleman said Hazelwood is finally growing up,” she said.
Another Black woman, Helena Smith, ran in this election.
Smith fell short in her bid for the Ward 7 seat against Robert C. Smith. He beat her by 38 votes, 185 to 147.
Smith, whose slogan is “United Together for Solutions,” said she will continue to be involved in her community and at City Hall.
The city has changed in its demographic over the years. The city’s population is now around 25,000 people. Whites have dropped in population over the last ten years by 5,000 people, slipping from 64 percent in 2010 to 45 percent in 2020. On the contrary, the African-American population has risen by 14 percent over the last two years.
Now, Blacks and whites are essentially equal in numbers in Hazelwood.