Politically Speaking: Councilman Harder on the council’s turbulent relationship with Stenger | St. Louis Public Radio

Politically Speaking: Councilman Harder on the council’s turbulent relationship with Stenger

Feb 1, 2018

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

The Ballwin Republican represents the council’s 7th District. It takes in a number of large municipalities in St. Louis County, including Chesterfield, Wildwood, Ellisville and Ballwin.

Harder is serving on the council during a time of political turmoil throughout the county. A majority of council members have been at odds with St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger over a number of issues. This comes as the Democratic chief executive is running for another term in office — and is being challenged by Democrats Mark Montovani and Bill Ray.

Both Harder and Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger, R-Huntleigh, have occasionally sided with Stenger on some contentious issues. But both Republicans went along with the four-member coalition that made significant changes to Stenger’s proposed budget. It was a break in recent precedent, as the council typically approves the budget that the county executive puts forward.

Harder is nearing the end of his first four-year term on the council. He said on the show that he will run for re-election this year.

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

  • He acknowledged there are some “personality issues” within county government. “Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a government or a charity, you’re going to have personalities,” he said. “You’re going to have different ideas. And hopefully at the end of the day, or the end of the week, we can come together on those ideas and make some compromises.”
  • In an unusual move, Harder is now the chairman of two committees dealing with government efficiency and economic development. Since Republicans are in the minority on the County Council, they typically don’t get an opportunity to be in charge of committees.
  • Harder said the passage of a half-cent sales tax for law enforcement, known as Proposition P, brought to light some issues with how county workers are paid. For instance, some support staff for the St. Louis County Police Department have spoken up at recent council meetings about not getting the same type of pay increase that police officers received thanks to Proposition P.
  • While three Democratic candidates have announced their county executive bids, no one on the GOP side has stepped forward as of yet. Harder said there’s still time for a Republican to run, since filing doesn’t start until later this month. “I think we need to have a Republican on every ballot,” he said. “And we need to challenge the status quo in some of these races.”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Music: “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer