Steve Stenger

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger delivers his inaugural address on Jan. 1, 2015. Stenger is coming into office with an ambitious agenda to change St. Louis County government -- and the legislative alliances to help him out.
File photo by Bill Greenblatt | UPI

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger came to prominence by being a critic. 

From his perch as a county councilman, Stenger aimed unrelenting salvos at then-St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley. That served as the backbone of a campaign that ultimately ousted Dooley in a Democratic primary — and narrowly outflanked state Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, in the general election.

This week, St. Louis Public Radio reporters Chris McDaniel, Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies use the  Politically Speaking podcast have decided to look into their crystal balls to discuss what’s ahead for Missouri politics in 2015.  

It’s a time of transition for both the Missouri General Assembly and St. Louis County government. The legislature comes back into session on Wednesday with some new members, and an even stronger Republican majority, while a new county executive has taken over in the state’s largest county.

On the show, we talked about:

St. Louis County's sales tax distribution system has long been a source of contention. And a Webster University professor says the only way to resolve differences is to come to a compromise among municipalities.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Jim Brasfield has taken on what may be a thankless task -- examining St. Louis County's famously complicated sales tax distribution system. 

Brasfield is a professor at Webster University and previously served as the mayor of Crestwood. He recently finished a study in late December of the distribution system for the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Steve Stenger holds his baby girl Madeline Jane as wife Allison looks on while taking the oath as the new St. Louis County Executive in Clayton, Missouri. Federal Judge Ronnie White administered the oath to Stenger.
Bill Greenblatt, UPI

With his county still coming to grips with the tumultuous aftermath of Michael Brown’s death, Steve Stenger was officially sworn in Thursday as St. Louis County executive.

Flanked by his wife Allison and holding his daughter Madeline, the Affton Democrat became the eighth county executive in St. Louis County’s history. He said during his two-page inaugural address that business as usual in the county was over.

Breaking new ground is one of the trademarks of the Politically Speaking podcast, and this year was no exception. 

After three years of podcasts, Politically Speaking changed its format and put the spotlight on guests. In all, 48 episodes featured federal, state and local officials from across Missouri and Illinois – as well as a few folks who aren’t in office.

Steve Stenger, left, and Rick Stream
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio intern

(Updated 10 p.m. Tues., Dec. 30)

The St. Louis County Election Board assigned 50 employees this week to conduct a court-ordered recount of the votes cast Nov. 4 in the tight battle for county executive. The election was narrowly won by Democrat Steve Stenger, who defeated Republican Rick Stream.

And when the recount was complete, Stenger still won.

The board fulfilled the aim of the candidates and the court to have the recount completed, and the results public, before Stenger is sworn in at noon Thursday,  New Year’s Day, as county executive.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh and St. Louis Public Radio political reporter Jo Mannies on Dec. 18, 2014, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

Aside from the color of his skin, a longtime aide portrays soon-to-depart St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley as a man who fit the traditional mold of the job that he held for over a decade.

“Fundamentally, his legacy is that he was a solid, fundamentally status-quo executive, much in the tradition of his predecessors,’’ said senior advisor Mike Jones, who served for most of Dooley’s 11-year tenure in the county’s top governmental job.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley speaks to reporters after Tuesday's St. Louis County Council meeting. The departing county executive contends that efforts to paint him as "corrupt" had racial overtones.
Rebecca Smith, St. Louis Public Radio

When St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley’s political adversaries used a subcontract for the county’s police lab as campaign fodder, the Democratic official saw it as more than just a run-of-the-mill attack. 

Dooley said the attacks were part of a racially motivated effort to make him look corrupt – a tactic he said is an effective way to discredit black politicians. He went so far as to call county prosecutor Bob McCulloch a “liar” who played the “race card” and county executive-elect Steve Stenger as a dutiful patsy that perpetuated an untruth.

Rick Stream
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Republican Rick Stream waited until the deadline to go to court Thursday and request a recount in the close contest he lost Nov. 4 for St. Louis County executive.

Stream lost by fewer than 1,800 votes to Democrat Steve Stenger, who is to be sworn in on Jan. 1.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley talks to reporters after Tuesday's St. Louis County Council meeting.
Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated at 5:39 p.m., Dec. 16 with interview with U.S. Attorney Robert Callahan.)

The U.S. attorney’s office reports that it has found no wrongdoing -- by anyone -- in the awarding of a subcontract for the St. Louis County police department’s new crime lab. 

    

IMAGE IS ONLY 200 pixels Careful.  Eddie Roth
Office of Mayor Francis Slay

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay appointed his deputy chief of staff, Eddie Roth, as the next director of the Department of Human Services.

Roth will oversee five divisions: Homeless Services, the St. Louis Area Agency on Aging, Veterans Affairs, Youth and Family Services, and the Office on the Disabled.

His predecessor, Bill Siedhoff, retired last month after serving for more than 13 years as director.

"Bill Siedhoff is a giant," Roth said in an interview. "He was a leading figure in providing social services in Missouri, so I have immensely big shoes to fill."

Geneva Moran moved into National Church Residences this summer. She said she's had a great experience, even though the facility was often mired in controversy.
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday afternoon, residents of a newly-minted senior living facility in south St. Louis County were ready for a party.

After officially opening in June, officials with the South County Chamber of Commerce helped cut the ribbon on National Church Residences Telegraph Road.  Inside a room with shiny wooden floors and hip artwork and decor, the $5.2 million building was officially welcomed into the unincorporated St. Louis County township of Oakville.

Steve Stenger, left, and Rick Stream
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio intern

St. Louis County Executive-elect Steve Stenger outspent Republican rival Rick Stream by more than three-to-one in what appears to have been the closest contest for that office in decades.

Stenger — a Democrat who won by less than 1,900 votes — spent $3.34 million in his successful bid for the post, according to the final campaign-finance reports due Thursday. Stream reported spending $959,395.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon speaking Monday at a news conference before the grand jury announcement on Monday, Nov 25, 2014
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

Within minutes after St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced that the grand jury did not recommend that Darren Wilson face indictment for the shooting death of Michael Brown, reactions from area politicians came quickly. 

Before and after the grand jury’s decision was made public, area officials made clear Monday night that they understood the stakes.

St. Louis County Executive-elect Steve Stenger said his transition into his new office is going much more smoothly than last week.
File photo by Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

The deep freeze between St. Louis County Executive-elect Steve Stenger and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley seems to be thawing. 

A little more than a week after Stenger and Dooley revealed that they weren’t talking to each other, the bitter rivals appear to have a line of communication to help with a changeover in office. Stenger defeated Dooley in a Democratic primary and will take office on Jan. 1.

Steve Stenger, Democrat, left, and Rick Stream, Republican, are running for St. Louis County executive.
Photos courtesy of the candidates

If it weren’t for voters in north St. Louis County, Democrat Steve Stenger wouldn’t have won the tight Nov. 4 contest for county executive.

Stenger lost most of his home turf in south St. Louis County to Republican Rick Stream. 

Stenger carried north county strongly, but the percentage was far less than County Executive Charlie Dooley's performance in 201o. Even so, Stenger's north county showing -- despite opposition from north county Democrats -- proved crucial to victory.

Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

As the St. Louis region awaits a grand jury decision on whether to charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson with a crime, federal, state and local officials have been in constant communications with each other to prepare for what happens next. 

But there’s been no talk between two policymakers in particular: St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and St. Louis County Executive-elect Steve Stenger.

St. Louis County Executive-elect Steve Stenger talks to St. Louis Public Radio reporters Nov. 5, 2014, during a recording of the 'Politically Speaking' podcast.
Chris McDaniel / St. Louis Public Radio

A few hours after winning the St. Louis County executive race, Steve Stenger stopped by St. Louis Public Radio on Wednesday to talk about his new position on the "Politically Speaking" podcast. Part of that interview was heard Thursday on "St. Louis on the Air."

St. Louis County Executive-elect Steve Stenger talks to St. Louis Public Radio reporters Nov. 5, 2014, during a recording of the 'Politically Speaking' podcast.
Chris McDaniel / St. Louis Public Radio

Wednesday on “St. Louis on the Air,” we gathered our political reporters to recap Tuesday’s election. The consensus: Republicans ruled the night.

“It was a Republican bloodbath, nationally and regionally,” said Jo Mannies, St. Louis Public Radio political reporter. “But it also shows that St. Louis County is definitely Democratic turf because the only two Democratic candidates — big names — who remained standing were Steve Stenger and Jill Schupp.”

Steve Stenger celebrates a victory.
Chris McDaniel | St. Louis Public Radio

A day after his narrow victory, St. Louis County Executive-elect Steve Stenger says he’s “certainly willing to extend an olive branch’’ to those fellow Democrats who had opposed his election.

But that said, Stenger made clear Wednesday that he expects those critics — many of whom were African-American officials in north St. Louis County — to do their part as well.

“We saw political motivations of all sorts, and we need to set them aside,’’ Stenger said during a wide-ranging interview on St. Louis Public Radio's Politically Speaking podcast.

Rebecca Smith, St. Louis Public Radio

A day after his election, St. Louis County Executive-elect Steve Stenger joins the Politically Speaking podcast to discuss the results.

Stenger, currently a county councilman, will take the post in January.

Note: You can subscribe to us on iTunes now.

During the podcast, Stenger said:

Rebecca Smith, St. Louis Public Radio

The 2014 mid-term election is over, but its impact on local and state politics could be long lasting.

That’s because Republicans  -- who were already in firm control of the Missouri General Assembly – expanded their numbers in the House and Senate in part because they were able to crack the Democrats'  once-sturdy strongholds in Jefferson County, southeast Missouri and northeast Missouri. In St. Louis County, Republicans also came close to electing a county executive for the first time since 1990 when Democrat Buzz Westfall ended 28 years of GOP control over the office.

Steve Stenger celebrates a victory.
Chris McDaniel | St. Louis Public Radio

Democrat Steve Stenger eked out a narrow victory Tuesday for St. Louis County executive, becoming one of the few major Democratic wins – regionally or nationally.

After trailing for much of the vote-counting, Stenger ended up with an edge of 1,768 votes over Republican Rick Stream. That amounted to less than 1 percent of the roughly 294,000 votes cast.

"I want to say 'thank you' to the voters of St. Louis County who have placed their confidence in me to turn their county around, and to move our county forward and upward,'' Stenger said in a brief victory speech.

St. Louis Public Radio aired the first public debate between two candidates for St. Louis County executive, Democrat Steve Stenger, left and Republican Rick Stream (right).
Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s somewhat instinctual for Missouri political reporters to describe every election as decisive, critical or groundbreaking. And to be fair, it’s not an unnatural impulse – since every Show Me State election year for the past couple of decades has featured a competitive statewide, U.S. Senate or presidential contest.

This year, though, state Auditor Tom Schweich likely won’t lose to his Libertarian or Constitution Party opponents, and the Missouri House and Senate will remain firmly in Republican hands. And there's no U.S. Senate contest.

File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander is estimating that slightly fewer than 40 percent of the state’s voters will show up at the polls next Tuesday, a lower turnout than in 2010 — when there was more at stake on the ballot.

Area election officials also are projecting lower turnouts, ranging from roughly 20 percent in the city of St. Louis to 25 percent in St. Charles County, 46 percent in St. Louis County and 47 percent in Jefferson County.

Video Voters Guide To St. Louis County Executive Race

Oct 30, 2014
Steve Stenger, left, and Rick Stream
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio intern

Here's your chance to see the two major-party candidates for St. Louis county executive in action. Before the August primary, we videotaped the candidates answering questions about some of the key issues facing the county. (This was before the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.) Here is what Democrat Steve Stenger and Republican had to say. You can see their answers by clicking on the questions below.

What’s your strongest achievement while in office?

How would you improve the St. Louis County parks system?

Rick Stream, left, and Steve Stenger
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio intern

Just since Oct. 1, the two major candidates for St. Louis County executive have spent more than $1.1 million between them – most of it on TV ads.

On Monday, Republican Rick Stream and Democrat Steve Stenger filed their final campaign-finance reports – known as “eight-day reports” – before the Nov. 4 election.

In their filings, Stenger reported spending $712,032 just in October. That compared to $409,824 for Stream.

The bulk of their spending has been for TV ads, which have been running continually for almost two months.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

With sleek, white furniture and an array of flat screen televisions, Express Scripts’ research lab has all the trappings of modernity and success. But for his part, Express Scripts CEO George Paz saw something else when he broke ground on his company’s headquarters a few years ago.  

When he stepped on the north St. Louis County field that would later become Express Scripts' campus, Paz saw dilapidated houses and sewer runoff. It wasn’t a sure-fire economic development opportunity.

Rick Stream
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio

Rick Stream, the Republican nominee for St. Louis County executive, is promising to use his influence to persuade the General Assembly to change state laws  to make it harder for communities to collect so much money from traffic violations.

Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Actions often speak louder than words.

The region’s two major candidates for St. Louis County executive – Democrat Steve Stenger and Republican Rick Stream – play down any talk that their campaigns target women voters.

Both say they’re seeking support from any and all voters, regardless of gender, age, race or other demographics.

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