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Constitution Party Candidate Shares Vision For St. Louis County

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(Rebecca Smith / St. Louis Public Radio)
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Joe Passanise has entered this year’s race for St. Louis County executive as a member of the Constitution Party “with a motive of trying to make sure the public understands what government should be doing.”

Previously Passanise ran for the position as a Republican but lost to Charlie Dooley and Buzz Westfall.

“I’m not sure that either candidate, Republican or Democrat has recognized what is good governance,” Passanise told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh. He believes that good governance is about the interaction between government and its citizens.

“[Citizens] need to be advised of really important issues that the county government has already decided on. Another word for that is accountability. That is to tell the public what they’re doing and why they’re doing it,” Passanise said.

As an example of the lack of accountability, Passanise cited the potential combining of St. Louis City and St. Louis County crime statistics. He believes that combining them would hurt the people of St. Louis County.  He said the citizens of the county have not been properly informed about how their insurance rates may be negatively affected.

“This is an issue that has not been presented to the public and shown that it has advantages and disadvantages. This is accountability that has not occurred. If you have a 30% increase in murders in St. Louis City and we don’t have that in St. Louis County, you’re going to join those crime statistics, the crime statistics in the county are going to be elevated.”

Ferguson

When asked about the current situation in Ferguson and how he would restore confidence, Passanise replied, “It’s important to hear from the people. Not just those two or three minute presentations in front of the county council. I’m talking about a full public meeting with all the department heads at that meeting so that we can hear from our citizens about whatever they have on their mind.”

Concerning civil disobedience and how it should be handled, Passanise reiterated that “it’s still important to hear from citizens. The citizens, if I remember correctly, have never had a public meeting initiated by the county executive or the county council.  As county executive, I would have had a public meeting inviting all the residents - the ones that have complaints and those that believe the city of Ferguson is still doing a good job.”

In response to the recent county council meeting where demonstrators showed up, Passanise claims that the demonstrators “did not have a voice. They had no place to speak so they came to the county council chambers to speak, but that could have been avoided if the county executive would have taken initiative and created a meeting just for this purpose.”

Legitimate Complaints?

Passanise said he believes protestors have legitimate complains. “There seems to be an emphasis on African Americans being arrested in that area.  And this would also be brought out in the public meeting.”

When asked what he, as county executive, would do to alleviate such problems Passanise said, “Having very little income is connected with working to earn income.  There has to be a way to bring businesses to that area so that residents there can work to earn a living.”

“The problem of the poor has been with us since the beginning of this country.  [Ben Franklin’s] concern was if you give the poor everything, they remain poor.  You have to give them an opportunity to work and as county executive I would find a way for that to happen.”

When asked if that means he feels that many people on government programs may be freeloading, Passanise said that he was concerned with such an issue.  He recounted listening to a radio program in Texas in which the woman being interviewed claimed she was getting money from the state, city, and the [federal government] that amounted to $13,000 a month.  She came back to the host and said ‘I don’t need to work,’ so there are people like that, yes.” 

Passanise believes that to prevent such freeloading, “you look for [those people] in terms of: have they had the opportunity to work?  Maybe they just need guidance.”

Westlake Landfill

On the topic of the Westlake Landfill and if the county executive has any authority in that situation, Passanise repeated that the county executive needs to take initiative. “I would try to make sure the Feds fix the problem. They created it, and they should fix it. But I would work very diligently to make sure it happened.”

City-County Merger

Passanise stated that he was opposed to incorporating St. Louis City into St. Louis County if it meant eliminating all of the municipalities in the county. However when asked if he was in favor of St. Louis City joining St. Louis County as one of the many municipalities, he said that “is a possibility but there has to be some understanding of what the city’s responsibilities would be.” He thinks that it’s important to talk to the citizens about that issue as well.

St. Louis Public Radio hosted a debate between the Democratic and Republican candidates for St. Louis County executive last week.

“St. Louis on the Air” discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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