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Councilwoman Dunaway says COVID-19 turmoil played a role in not running again

St. Louis County Councilwoman Kelli Dunaway, District 2, on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024, at the St. Louis Public Radio newsroom in Midtown St. Louis. Dunaway recently announced that she would not seek reelection.
Tristen Rouse
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis County Councilwoman Kelli Dunaway, shown Thursday at St. Louis Public Radio, recently announced she would not seek reelection.

On the latest episode of Politically Speaking, St. Louis County Councilwoman Kelli Dunaway expounds on her decision to not run for another term this year.

The Chesterfield Democrat represents the council’s 2nd District, which includes municipalities such as St. Ann, Maryland Heights, Creve Coeur, Bridgeton and Hazelwood. She was first elected to her post in a 2019 special election and won a full four-year term in 2020.

Here’s what Dunaway discussed during the program:

  • How the political turmoil around the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in her decision not to seek another term. She also talked about the dissension among Democrats on issues such as mask mandates and occupancy restrictions.
  • How the hostility that local elected officials faced since the pandemic may prompt people to think twice about serving in public office. 
  • New ideas to raise revenue — including providing naming rights to county buildings or streets — with the county facing a budget deficit. She also talked about the consequences if the budget isn’t dealt with in a serious manner.
  • Her vote against an incentive package for Boeing, which put her in conflict with St. Louis County Executive Sam Page. He and Dunaway have been allies since she joined the council, but she detailed why she diverged from the fellow Democrat on this issue.

Dunaway attended Southern Illinois University for her undergraduate degree in history and UCLA for law school. She was the director of learning and development for the Bryan Cave law firm and now runs a training and consulting firm for attorneys.
After Dunaway prevailed in a 2019 special election over Republican Amy Poelker, Democrats regained control of the council. It marked the first time a council majority consisted entirely of women.

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.