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Politically Speaking: Councilwoman Wasinger on her political future and County Council strife

St. Louis County Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis County Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back St. Louis County Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger to the program.

The Huntleigh Republican represents the council’s 3rd District, which includes municipalities such as Kirkwood, Manchester, Fenton, Sunset Hills, Frontenac and Valley Park. Wasinger has represented her district since 2007.

Wasinger announced this year, that she would not seek re-election to her council seat. She then told numerous media outlets, including St. Louis Public Radio, that she was mulling a bid for St. Louis County executive. As of Tuesday, Republicans still don’t have a confirmed candidate to take on the winner of the Democratic primary and Wasinger said she hasn’t decided whether to run.

Wasinger said in 2015 that she had a good relationship with St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, who will likely face at least two Democratic challengers in August. After entering office with most of the County Council  aligned with him, a four-person coalition of the seven-member now has proven adept at blocking some of Stenger’s agenda.

Wasinger joined most of the council in dramatically changing Stenger’s budget proposal near the end of 2017.

Thus far, former St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch announced a bid for Wasinger’s council seat. Other Republican candidates may step forward soon, because winning the GOP primary in that district is tantamount to election.

Here’s what else Wasinger had to say during the show:

  • She won’t announce anything about running for county executive until the last day of candidate filing, which is March 27.
  • She added that she’s dismayed by the acrimonious relationships between Stenger and a majority of the council. “It’s all about the politics. No policy,” she said. “What are our priorities here? To one up each other on the council versus the county executive? Or do we really want to try and move the region forward and do some good?”
  • Wasinger said county voters should consider making council and countywide elected offices nonpartisan positions. St. Louis County voters elect their officials as Democrats and Republicans, while most of the state’s cities elect nonpartisan officials. “The issues before the council are rarely partisan,” she said. “Now sometimes the vote will fall down on partisan lines just because it’s there. Should it? No. It shouldn’t.”
  • She also said county voters should consider changing the charter to make the auditor’s office an elected position. Currently, the council appoints that officeholder.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Music: “War All The Time” by Thursday

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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