Hickey challenges Vollmer for king of The Hill

THE HILL – Veteran 10th Ward Alderman Joe Vollmer depends on his customers at Milo’s on the Hill to get much of the feel of his community. 

As he aims at taking Vollmer’s job, Patrick Hickey hopes to depend on the political sense he gained from having a grandfather and an uncle in the state House of Representatives. 

Vollmer, 60, and Hickey, 33, have filed for the Democratic nomination for 10th Ward alderman in the March 5 primary. In the order of how their names appear on the ballot, here is information about the two candidates.

A lifelong resident of the Hill neighborhood and an owner of Milo’s Bocce Yard since 1989, Vollmer was approached in 2003 by a group that asked him if he’d like to run for office. He was elected.

“The way I grew up was something I couldn’t find anywhere else,” he said. “Through owning the tavern, becoming an alderman was a natural extension.”

Vollmer said he’s seen lots of development and improvement in the ward, which include the Hill neighborhood. That includes the 56 new homes in the Park Ridge Estates on Arsenal Street, 25 new homes in Magnolia Square on the site of the old St. Aloysius Parish and a $70 million La Collina (The Hill) development with 58 single family homes and additional condominiums and luxury condominiums and luxury apartments. 

Vollmer also mentioned the rebirth of the Morgan Ford business district near Arsenal Street. The 10th and 15th wards share part of that district.

Speaking of citywide issues, Vollmer said that there is a new program to provide tax incentives for projects of less than $1 million. They are provided at various places on the city map.

Vollmer said he doesn’t see an upside to privatization of the St. Louis Lambert International Airport. He’d like to see the study on the subject, but said, “It would take a lot to take my mind.”

On the subject of a possible city-county merger, Vollmer said the city will find a way to do it.   

Vollmer is working with Second District Captain Mike Deeba on having more police patrols and real-time cameras.

Meanwhile, Vollmer’s opponent said he is running because of frustration with City Hall and actions by Vollmer.

“Knocking on doors, older people are surprisingly excited to see a young person involved,” Hickey said. “Personally, I feel that I can do more for the 10th Ward with the seat.”

Hickey, a union pipefitter, said he’s concerned about the practice of aldermanic courtesy, in which aldermen automatically vote for what other aldermen want in their own wards.

“It’s taken to an extreme where it’s vote trading,” he said,

Hickey also is concerned about tax incentives if they’re used in a place like the Hill, which is unquestionably well off. 

“I would like to see our alderman become more involved in the political process,” Hickey said. “You don’t hear him speaking up about issues or anything.”

Hickey also said he is against the privatization of the airport. “I think people ought to be able to vote on it at the very least,” he said.

He is not necessarily in favor of the current plan for a city-county merger but is in favor of the concept. That would help deal with the fiefdoms that exist, he said. 

Hickey was living with his divorced father and majoring in public policy and public administration at the University of Missouri-St. Louis when his father died. After that, he had to drop out and work in a training program that led to him becoming a union pipefitter. He said he needs to take only a few more courses to graduate.

Jim Merkel

Author: Jim Merkel

Born and raised in St. Louis, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of four books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis. For more about Jim, visit www.jimmerkelthewriter.com.

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