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Politically Speaking: Berry on why a Republican should be St. Louis County executive again

Paul Berry III
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Paul Berry III

GOP St. Louis County executive nominee Paul Berry III joins the Politically Speaking podcast to discuss his campaign to be one of the region’s top elected officials.

Berry won a two-way GOP primary last week for the county executive’s office. He’ll square off against incumbent St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger in November, along with several third-party candidates.

A bail bondsman and business consultant by trade, Berry’s first entry into electoral politics was in 2012 when he ran as a Democrat for a Maryland Heights-based House seat. He switched to the GOP in 2014, running unsuccessfully for that same House seat that year and then falling short in a Republican primary for Congress in 2016. Berry cited frustration with how Democrats approached numerous public policy issues for his party switch.

This year, Berry prevailed in a low-profile GOP county executive primary against Daniel Sampson. Most of the attention leading up to the vote focused on the Democratic contest between Stenger and Mark Mantovani, which was one of the most expensive August primaries in the state. Berry raised about $2,000, while Sampson didn’t even open up a fundraising committee.

Berry is hoping that Democratic voters who were unhappy with Stenger’s victory will gravitate toward his campaign.

Here’s what Berry had to say during the show:

  • Berry said wants St. Louis County-based Police agencies to take primary responsibility for providing security for MetroLink. Currently, the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Clair County officers patrol the light rail service.
  • He said he wouldn’t support expanding MetroLink into St. Louis County unless the transit agency's security situation improves. “If they brought me a bill about a feasibility study, I would veto it until we fix the security problem,” he said. “You get the fleas out of the couch before you bring it into the house.”
  • Before there’s any sort of merger between St. Louis and St. Louis County, Berry believes that the city needs to get its financial and governmental house in order. He adds that he wants to focus on running St. Louis County, as opposed to thinking of bringing in another governmental jurisdiction. “I’m not running for supreme allied commander of eastern Missouri,” he said. “My job is St. Louis County first.”
  • Berry supports removing nuclear waste from the Westlake Landfill and shipping it out of Missouri. The Environmental Protection Agency currently has jurisdiction over the landfill, and former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had supported a plan to remove some of the waste. Berry said he would have a better line of communication with President Donald Trump than Stenger, who criticized the GOP chief executive in some of his television ads.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Music: “I’m Upset” by Drake

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