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Urban policy expert David Rusk talks about collaboration between city and county in St. Louis

Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio
Urban policy expert David Rusk talks about regional collaboration.

For the next year, a series of forums will examine the issue of regional collaboration. The Construction Forum St. Louis’ directors aim to discuss what has and hasn’t worked to revitalize a city of St. Louis and St. Louis County merger. The first of the forums featured urban policy expert David Rusk, former Wilson and Brookings Scholar and the previous mayor of Albuquerque.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Rusk about opportunities for regional cooperation in the St. Louis area. Rusk is a senior fellow at the D.C. Policy Center.

While in St. Louis, Rusk presented to regional civic leaders in a series of five planned sessions on the subject of regionalism and models of regional collaboration over the next year.

“I know one of the issues here is a renewed effort to talk about ending the ‘great divorce’ between the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County,” Rusk said.

He said the issue is not merging governments, but instead building structures in which local governments work together more often. He said proponents of the merger overlook the potential cons, like incorporating undeveloped lands to struggling resource bases. A second reality is that smaller municipalities don’t get incorporated in the consolidation.

But merging would also allow municipalities to have an “over-arching unit” that can work collectively on matters that would otherwise be difficult to do individually. Rusk said he recommends looking at other successful initiatives in cities with similar issues and characteristics and consider adapting them.

“Work to find that common bases of facts and that common bases of values and build upon that,” he said.

Listen below for the full discussion:


St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.
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