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Politically Speaking: Mantovani offers his vision for improving St. Louis County

Mark Mantovani
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio
Mark Mantovani

Businessman Mark Mantovani — a Democrat challenging St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger — joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies for the latest episode of Politically Speaking.

A graduate of St. Louis University High School, Mantovani grew up in the region and is a former lawyer making his first bid for public office. He is arguably the best-known and best-financed of all of Stenger’s potential opponents for the job overseeing the state’s largest county and its 1 million residents.

Even though the Democratic primary isn’t until August, Mantovani and Stenger already are flooding the region’s TV airwaves with campaign commercials attacking each other.

Mantovani has donated $1 million of his own money to his campaign, and says he’s willing to put in more in order to communicate his message.

Mantovani denies Stenger’s claims that he’s really a Republican, and says he and his wife are committed Democrats.

A centerpiece of Mantovani’s campaign is his accusation that Stenger has been making inappropriate sweetheart deals with donors.

Among Mantovani’s other observations during the podcast:

  • Mantovani says his lack of elective experience doesn’t make him less prepared for the top job. He would be the first leader of St. Louis County in decades to not have first been elected to another post. “And I would argue that the fact that somebody has been ingrained in this system and doesn’t realize that there are other ways of doing things or other approaches or another world out there is inhibiting the growth of this community,” he said.
  • He said one of the reasons he jumped into the race is fear that the St. Louis region is losing ground. Mantovani cited the region’s sluggish growth over the past few decades.
  • Mantovani has misgivings about a proposed sales tax increase for the St. Louis Zoo, which currently is barred from charging admission. He questioned whether tax money should go to a planned north St. Louis County animal breeding facility. Mantovani said he’s not sure that funding the project should be the sole responsibility of city and county taxpayers.
  • He said that the fact he’s poured about $1 million of his own money into the race should be seen as a sign of his strong commitment. “This is a reflection of my commitment to help this community,” he said. “And I could do lots of other stuff with that money. And the fact that I’m willing to invest to make this a better place I think ought to be positive.”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Mark Mantovani on Twitter: @MarkForSTL

Music: “Language City” by Wolf Parade

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.

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