As St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton, duke it out in the Democratic primary for county executive, two Republicans are engaged in a relatively low-profile primary for the post.
St. Louis Public Radio conducted wide-ranging interviews this week with the two contenders: House Budget Chairman Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood; and Green Park Alderman Tony Pousosa. Besides asking about the two candidates' backgrounds and general vision for the office, the two were asked about the county's most controversial and contentious issues.
Below are audio responses from Stream and Pousosa to a number of questions. Click here to read an overview of the contest between the two candidates.
Why are you running?
We asked Stream and Pousosa why they decided to run for St. Louis County executive.
Stream said he has the right type of experience for the job:
And Pousosa said he wants to give voice to those who feel shut out by county government:
How would you structure your administration?
The St. Louis County executive's office is one of the most powerful local posts in the entire state. The county executive signs or vetoes bills, makes appointments and shapes the budget. More than anything else, the county executive is responsible for appointing department heads and administering a large government. We asked each candidate how he would govern differently from the current administration or any other candidate in the county executive's race.
Stream said he would surround himself with competent people and put his budget experience to good use:
Pousosa wants to get state Auditor Tom Schweich to audit the county and use the recommendations to reorganize government:
What are your thoughts on a city-county merger?
In recent months, the possibility of St. Louis re-joining St. Louis County in some form or fashion has resurfaced. One option would have the city becoming a municipality within the county; others have floated the possibility of a "mega St. Louis" where the city and county become one entity.
We asked Stream and Pousosa what they thought of a potential merger between the two jurisdictions.
Stream said it shouldn't be a priority when the county has pressing problems to solve:
Pousosa has adamantly opposed a city-county merger of any kind:
Should St. Louis County consolidate its municipalities?
St. Louis County has by far the most incorporated municipalities in Missouri. Consolidation is an idea that's picked up steam lately as talk of a city-county merger has increased. But consolidation efforts have often run to serious opposition -- particularly from municipal officials who say their residents like smaller government.
We asked both candidates if they would support consolidation of some of the county's cities and towns if they're elected this year.
Stream says he won't force any communities to merge together:
Pousosa is also against the idea of forcibly consolidating municipalities:
How would you have handled the controversy over the Oakville senior living center differently?
Oakville residents protested last year against construction of a low-income senior residence in the south St. Louis County township. Efforts to stop construction of the structure failed. But hard feelings persist. We asked the candidates how they would have handled the controversy.
Stream would have gotten much more public input -- including from state lawmakers:
Pousosa said he never would have allowed the center to pass without a town hall meeting:
Would you have supporting foreclosure mediation?
Back in 2012, Dooley and the council enacted a foreclosure mediation ordinance to allow distressed homeowners to negotiate with lenders and servicers before a foreclosure occurs. The proposal sparked lawsuits from the Missouri Banking Association, which said the law would have made it harder to turn over real estate in the county. The Missouri General Assembly eventually passed a state law dissolving the ordinance.
We asked both candidates whether they would have supported the foreclosure mediation ordinance.
Stream says the proposal didn't appear to have support from critical groups to succeed:
And Pousosa said the ordinance amounted to a burdensome regulation on St. Louis County businesses:
Would you have supported adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the county's anti-discrimination laws?
Near the end of 2012, Dooley and the council backed adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the county's non-discrimination laws.
We asked Stream and Pousosa if they would have supported that measure.
Stream said he probably would not have proposed the ordinance had he been county executive:
Pousosa expressed concern the proposal conflicted with the First Amendment:
Would you support enacting minority and female workforce goals for county contracts?
Recently, Dooley and the council have grappled with legislation to get more county contracts for minority and female businesses. Dooley and Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City, have clashed with the rest of the council on how to structure the legislation.
We asked the two candidates for their opinion on minority participation bills.
Stream said he work with all sides of the issue -- including minority businessowners and labor unions -- to come to a consensus:
Pousosa would focus on creating a "true open bid process," which would give "everybody a fair shot:"