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Politically Speaking: Erby and Page on St. Louis County Council’s busy 2018

Councilman Sam Page, D-Creve Coeur, and Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
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Councilman Sam Page, D-Creve Coeur, and Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City

St. Louis County Council members Sam Page and Hazel Erby join the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast to talk about the tumultuous year in St. Louis County government.

Page, D-Creve Coeur, and Erby, D-University City, are the chair and co-chair, respectively, of the council. They’ve held those positions for two years amid tensions with St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.

Since the beginning of 2017, Page and Erby have been part of a bipartisan coalition that’s clashed with Stenger on a multitude of issues. Earlier this week, the council passed a budget with roughly $35 million in cuts from what Stenger recommended. They also overrode his veto numerous times, including removing a requirement that bidders for construction contracts be linked to apprenticeship programs.

Erby has been at odds with Stenger for years, and for awhile was the only person on the council who wasn’t a reliable ally of the county executive. That changed after 2016, with the elections of Rochelle Walton Gray, D-Black Jack, and Ernie Trakas, R-South St. Louis County.

After Trakas and Walton Gray took office, Page, Colleen Wasinger, R-Huntleigh, and Mark Harder, R-Ballwin, started opposing Stenger on controversial issues. That allowed the council to easily override Stenger’s vetoes. After 2019, Stenger will have no reliable allies on the council.

Here’s what Erby and Page talked about during the show:

  • Both discussed the 2019 budget, which Stenger criticized for making cuts from what he recommended. Since the county charter doesn’t allow for Stenger to veto the budget, it will go into effect.
  • Erby said the council’s tensions with Stenger prompted council members who have different ideologies to work together. “We’ve been able to work through some things and make some major accomplishments,” she said.
  • Some of the accomplishments Erby and Page pointed to were legislation aimed at bolstering minority representation for county contracts, as well as a charter amendment increasing the county’s budgetary power.
  • Page said he’s looking forward to Lisa Clancy and Tim Fitch joining the council early next year. "What you see different this year on the County Council — if there's an issue that we don't agree on, we're going to try to find the middle ground on that issue, rather than say, 'You're with me, or against me,’” Page said.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Hazel Erby on Twitter: @no1councilwoman

Music: “Formula 409” by Electric Six

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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