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Who Will Lead St. Louis County? Councilman Announces Bid For Executive

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.
St. Louis County Councilman Steve Stenger, announcing his campaign for County Executive.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley officially has a challenger in next year’s Democratic primary: St. Louis County Councilman Steve Stenger.

Stenger said he decided to run after a string of controversies in the county.

“We’ve seen, you know, in the health department alone, basically $3 million walking out the door for a phony company,” Stenger said in front of union members and other supporters.

“Well that’s $3 million right there. Over the years, we’ve had quite literally millions upon millions of dollars of fat that has been wasted by the executive branch.”

His announcement should not come as a surprise to many. Stenger has sharply criticized Dooley for some of his political appointments including a former county police board member now under investigation by the FBI for allegedly steering county contracts to his own company.

The South County councilman is likely to receive the backing of labor unions who have pulled their support for Dooley.

Arguably one of the most important issues for the St. Louis region in the coming years is the prospect of the city re-entering the county. But Stenger declined to take a stance on the matter when asked by reporters.

“I think at this point, it’s a little premature to make some kind of endorsement or some kind of choice in regard to that,” Stenger said. “And particularly where there hasn’t been one particular plan that’s been set out. And it’s a matter of such importance that I really don’t want to theorize or hypothesize on some sort of plan there.”

Dooley has been a supporter of the city re-entering the county.

According to campaign finance reports filed Monday, Stenger has $492,000 in his campaign chest. Dooley currently has $402,000.

Dooley announced last week he’ll run for re-election and on Monday, re-affirmed his plans.

"Listen, I’m going to move forward," Dooley said. "I got a great opportunity here for the people of St. Louis County to continue to lead this county. The people chose to elect me on three different occasions, and I’m hopeful they’re going to do it on the fourth occasion as well."

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel

Follow Maria Altman on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.