Politically Speaking: County Executive Stenger On His Support For City-County Merger Proposal | St. Louis Public Radio

Politically Speaking: County Executive Stenger On His Support For City-County Merger Proposal

Feb 20, 2019

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger joins Politically Speaking to talk about Better Together’s proposal to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County.

If statewide voters approve the plan next year, Stenger will become the unified government’s first “metro mayor.”  That office was designed to be powerful: A mayor in the new government can make key appointments, use a line-item veto, and help appoint whoever is in charge of drawing districts for a 33-person council.

Stenger and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson are backing the Better Together plan, which was formally unveiled late last month.  It comes as Stenger has lost some of his power as county executive after voters approved a charter amendment giving the St. Louis County Council more authority over financial matters.

Among other things, Stenger believes the reorganized government will allow for greater efficiency — and better services for roughly 1.3 million people. He’s also enthusiastic about having one police department and one municipal court serve the region, as opposed to dozens of smaller ones.

Some St. Louis residents have criticized placing county leaders like Stenger initially in charge of the new government, because city residents never had a chance to vote for them. Better Together officials looked to cities like Louisville that had the leader of the larger jurisdiction as the first mayor — which they contend provides needed continuity.

During the show, Stenger talked about:

  • How he came around to supporting a city-county merger plan.
  • Why having one police department and one municipal court would be beneficial to the region.
  • His response to criticism that the Better Together plan is going to statewide voters as opposed to just St. Louis and St. Louis County.
  • Criticism about how the proposal does not include consolidating St. Louis’ school districts.
  • His opinion of a push from the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis to gather signatures to launch what’s known as the Board of Freeholders process as a possible competing plan.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Steve Stenger on Twitter: @stevestenger

Music: “SICKO MODE” by Travis Scott

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org