Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Todd Swanstrom, Ph.D.


Terry Jones, Ph.D.

David Kimball, Ph.D.

David Robertson, Ph.D.


This study explores the role of municipal governance in municipal-level stabilization of inner suburbs in St. Louis County, Missouri. The data, from 1970 to 2015, include a robust collection of official government archives collected from five municipalities in St. Louis County, historical documents, city-state-national statistical data, and related materials. Interviews of 25 stakeholders were conducted and data were analyzed based on the community power structure framework.

I outline five mature St. Louis inner suburbs’ evolution in municipal-level conditions from 1970 to 2015, and I detail the role each suburbs’ municipal governance played in the evolution of municipal-level conditions. I conclude, the role of municipal governance in municipal-level stabilization is to affect impacts of housing discrimination, neighborhood blight, and fiscal stress through policy, administrative action, programs, and practices. I find two distinct philosophies of municipal governance: open housing and exclusion. I conclude the role of exclusion is more significant in municipal-level decline than open housing is in municipal-level stabilization.

Much of what has been written about neighborhood stabilization espouses a common theme of preemptive action to prevent decline. For many mature inner suburbs, preemption is no longer an option as decline has long been realized. I offer recommendations for future research and projects designed to produce economic, structural, and civically vibrant neighborhoods by equipping officials and community stakeholders with refined strategic planning tools to leverage existing resources, build capacity, and employ revitalization methods in more effective and sustainable ways.