It’s a busy world in St. Louis County politics, whether it’s some members of the County Council having an ongoing feud with the executive branch of the county, some veteran members opting out of re-election, or the upcoming County Executive race — 2018 is sure to have some surprises in store.
A taste of what’s to come
It’s not a secret that some members of the St. Louis County Council like Sam Page and Hazel Erby have had political clashes with County Executive Steve Stenger and in 2018, things aren’t seeming to simmer down between the political opponents.
Throughout 2017, there were numerous public altercations between Stenger and Page. Onlookers could see the two arguing about a proposed Creve Coeur Park ice rink, budget allocations, and Stenger protesting Page’s choice for St. Louis County Auditor in Mark Tucker.
So where do some of these St. Louis County officials stand now?
St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger
Compared to last year, the County Executive has had a relatively quiet start to 2018. One of the biggest things that has happened thus far was his decision to reduce $500,000 in spending that the St. Louis County Council approved late last year.
Stenger stated it was unfair for the council to raise its own budget while it simultaneously cuts $31 million within the county.
“It really is a matter of fairness and I think that the council should be held at the same standard of the rest of county government,” Stenger said. “It was odd to see them cut across the board and then give themselves such an increase. They increased by three times as much as they cut.”
In addition to his ongoing battle with some members of the council, Stenger is up for re-election. As of now the race includes businessman Mark Mantovani, and Bill Ray, a real estate agent from University City.
Also rumored to be in the running is current St. Louis County Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger, who recently announced she would not be seeking reelection for her County Council seat.
Councilman Sam Page
One of Stenger’s staunchest critics, Councilman Sam Page has continued where he left off in 2017 with attacks on the County Executive, stating that Stenger has continued to threaten current council members and is continually defying the County Council from doing its job.
In a recent letter obtained by KMOX, Page accused Stenger with attempting to oust Councilman Ernie Trakas from his position, issuing budgetary diversions to slice the council’s funding, and ending support for projects that he originally agreed on with certain council members once they voted to make cuts to his 2018 budget spending plan.
“This year, we will be seeking far-reaching systemic reforms to improve accountability and transparency in county government.” Page’s letter said. “We want to correct the system so that it is fully accountable to the taxpayers and residents of St. Louis County — and not a playground for your petty politics.”
Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger
Early in January, Councilwoman Wasinger announced that she wouldn’t be seeking a fourth term representing the 3rd District of the County Council.
Wasinger, a Republican who represents the county’s 3rd district, has held the position since 2007 and stated to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that she wants to give another person the chance at the seat and that she wants to seek out other opportunities and ways for her to serve.
Wasinger said she was excited to see what the future holds, and is leaving plenty of options open, including running for the county executive position later this year.
“When one door closes another one opens and I’m certainly considering different options,” she said. “People have been mentioning a number of different avenues, whether it’s returning to the private sector or non-profit, or even continuing in public service through the county executive’s race. I’ve received a lot of comments, calls, and inquiries about that lately.”
Councilman Mark Harder
Councilman Mark Harder has also been busy in 2018. Just recently, the councilman had legislation that would move the County Council’s starting time from 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Although it might seem minor, the time change, according to Harder would allow more St. Louis County residents to address their issues to the County Council.
In previous years, the councilman has introduced the legislation but was ultimately voted against but during its final passage stage on Jan. 23, it passed easily with a 7-0 vote.
“This is a bill that I brought up last year and thought I would bring it up in the new year,” Harder said. “We’ve had a number of constituents that have come to the meeting asking for a later meeting time. I think that would more time for people from the greater distances to get here on time, and park and be able to register to speak.”