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Voters to decide whether St. Louis county executive can have another job

Dr. Sam Page, St. Louis County Executive, gives a public update on rental assistance during the COVID-1 pandemic on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, at the St. Louis County Government building in Clayton, Mo.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page has worked part time as an anesthesiologist.

St. Louis County voters will decide whether the county executive can hold another job or be an independent contractor while serving in office.

The county council voted 4-3 Tuesday to put the issue on next April's ballot. The bill, introduced by Councilman Tim Fitch, would allow voters to change the county charter.

The legislation faced opposition from council members Lisa Clancy, Kelli Dunaway and Ernie Trakas. Mark Harder, Rita Days and Shalonda Webb joined Fitch in voting for the proposal.

The ballot measure follows months of contentious debate between some members of the council and County Executive Sam Page over whether the county charter allows the county executive to hold another job while in office. Some council members have argued that Page’s part-time employment as an anesthesiologist is in violation of the county charter, which states that all of the executive's time should be devoted to the duties of the office.

A spokesman for Page said in a statement that “it will be up to the voters whether they agree with Councilman Fitch that the county executive should not practice medicine in his free time."

In voting against the measure, Trakas argued that a future council could work to add another charter amendment that applied to other county officials employed as independent contractors.

“Whether that would mean adoption of another charter amendment based on this one, applicable to members of the council or other government officials,” Trakas said.

Fitch said the language of the bill focuses on the office of the county executive.

“I’m not aware of anybody else in this body saying that they’re looking at extending this,” Fitch said.

Council drops elections bill 

Also Tuesday, Fitch dropped a bill he introduced that would call for nonpartisan elections for county officeholders and the council.

The bill would remove partisan designations from the ballot and would allow the two candidates with the most votes in a primary to face each other in the general election.

Fitch said discussions with other council members and the county counselor changed his mind on the current state of the bill.

“There are significant legal issues with this that independent candidates for office could be excluded,” Fitch said. “So based on that I really need to rework this.”

Some members of the council have recently voiced concerns with the bill, saying that it could weaken Black political strength in the region.

Follow Chad on Twitter: @iamcdavis

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.