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Politically Speaking: Councilman Trakas on his rancorous entry into St. Louis County politics

St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas
Alex Heuer I St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies welcomes St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas on the program for the first time.

The Republican from south St. Louis County was elected to the 6th District council seat in 2016. He represents a part of largely unincorporated south St. Louis, which means that he makes many of the development and zoning decisions for the area.

An attorney, Trakas had never run for public office before 2016. He ran in an open race for the 6th District against former state Rep. Patricia Yaeger, a Democrat who had a lot of support from elected officials and labor unions. But Trakas ended up winning by a small margin, and he became the first Republican to represent the 6th District seat since 2008.

Since joining the Council, Trakas allied with three Democrats to block much of St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s agenda. He’s even differed with the Council’s two other Republicans on certain issues. But since that time, he’s been subject to a recall effortthat could jeopardize his ability to finish off his term.

Here’s what Trakas said during the show:

  • His opposition to Stenger on a number of issues is likely why he’s facing a recall effort. If organizers of that bid manage to get enough signatures, Trakas said he’s prepared to go to court to challenge the validity of the recall.
  • Still, Trakas doesn’t regret his decision to run for the St. Louis County Council. “I probably am disappointed with how much rancor there is, how much misdirection,” he said.
  • Trakas said some council members are interested in changing the county’s campaign finance laws. For instance, he said council members may consider capping donations to county candidates. As of now, candidates for county executive or the County Council may take donations of unlimited size.
  • Trakas said he’s opposed to any effort to place a plan merging St. Louis and St. Louis County on a statewide ballot.” My biggest concern is this attempt to bypass the voters that are affected by it,” he said. “There’s something undemocratic and un-American about that.”

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Music: “Knights of Cydonia” by Muse

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.
Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.