Politically Speaking: Councilwoman Wasinger on stadiums, police and the county executive
On the latest episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome St. Louis County Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger to the show.
The Huntleigh Republican has represented the council’s 3rd District since 2007. The area includes such municipalities as Kirkwood, Manchester, Fenton, Sunset Hills, Frontenac and Valley Park.
A real estate attorney by trade, Wasinger first entered public life when she was elected to the Town and Country Board of Aldermen. Her most competitive race was in 2006, when she bested then-Fenton Mayor Dennis Hancock in the GOP primary for the 3rd District. She recently won re-election to her Republican-leaning district without opposition.
Wasinger is one of two Republicans on the seven-person county council. But in recent years, she’s been part of a bipartisan alliance with St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.When the Democratic county executive was on the county council, Wasinger was part of a five-person coalition that often blocked some of then-St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley’s initiatives. That coalition remains intact, and Stenger essentially has a 6-1 majority on the council to approve his agenda.
On the show, Wasinger said:
- She compares the work of the county council to a municipal government: Both entities tend to focus on things like governmental services and zoning policies, not partisan politics. Many of the bills on the council pass without opposition or controversy.
- The Democratic primary race between Stenger and Dooley often made “every vote” controversial. She said many proposals from Dooley were politically tinged, such an effort late in the Democratic official's term to expand minority participation in county contracts.
- She agrees with Stengerthat any county contribution to a proposed riverfront football stadium should receive either a council or countywide vote. Stenger’s call for a public vote on the matter likely played a role in the county no longer contributing to the new facility.
- She generally is not opposed to letting people vote on a proposed tax – such a possible sales tax hike for the St. Louis County Police Department in unincorporated St. Louis County.But she says actually implementing such a tax is another question – especially since sales tax hikes are common in areas throughout St. Louis County.
- She's heard wildly divergent opinions on changing the county sales tax distribution system. Changing that controversial system has become intertwined in state legislation enabling a sales tax increase for county police.
Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum
Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies
Music: “Buffalo Stance” by Neneh Cherry