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After decades of contemplation and debate, a group known as Better Together is recommending an end to the “Great Divorce” between St. Louis and St. Louis County.Better Together is proposing an ambitious plan to create a unified metro government and police department and limit municipalities' ability to levy sales taxes. The plan would be decided through a statewide vote.Proponents contend it will scrape away layers of local government that has been holding the St. Louis region back. Opponents believe the plan will create an unwieldy and large centralized government that could be implemented against the will of city and county residents.

Politically Speaking: St. Louis County Executive Stenger reviews his first two years

A St. Louis Public Radio file photo of St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Our latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast features St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, who’s making his first appearance since taking office more than two years ago.

Stenger had joined St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies in 2014, when he was a candidate against then-Executive Charlie Dooley.  Stenger ousted Dooley in a combative Democratic primary, and narrowly won a general election contest against Republican Rick Stream.


Stenger is a native of south St. Louis and nearby south county, working his way through law school as a singer in a rock band.  He’s also a certified public accountant and served on the County Council for six years before moving up to the county’s top post.

Stenger is now putting his political clout on the line as he campaigns for Proposition P, a county measure on the April 4 ballot that seeks a half-cent sales tax increase. The $80 million a year raised would be designated for county police and public safety, with just over half earmarked for the countywide force and the rest for the various municipal police departments.

Among his observations on the show:

  • Stenger says establishing a prescription drug monitoring program has been a major success story of his administration. A number of other counties and cities, including St. Louis, have joined the database — which Stenger says could stop someone from “doctor shopping” for prescription drugs.

  • If the state legislature doesn’t act, Stenger expects more local governments to join the database. "In the event that the state does not come forward with a solution, which has been years in the making, we very well may have a PDMP that covers the entire state," he said.

  • He expects to have a good working relationship with Lyda Krewson, a Democrat who won her party’s nomination for St. Louis mayor. Stenger attended Krewson’s election night watch party earlier this month, saying, “I thought it was important to get up on that stage to show that we’re have unity.”.

  • Stenger says he may work closely with Krewson on a number of big-ticket projects, including a potentially expensive overhaul of St. Louis’ convention center. “It’s in extremely early stages right now,” he said. “What exactly the rehabilitation is going to call for, I don’t think it’s been exactly determined yet.”

  • He said he plans to run for re-election in 2018. Stenger has more than a $1 million in his campaign account.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum


Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies


Follow Steve Stenger on Twitter: @SteveStenger


Music: “Cranes in the Sky” by Solange


Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.
Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.