CLAYTON — Sam Page handily defeated three challengers on Tuesday in his quest to retain the job of St. Louis County executive for two more years.
With all votes counted, Page won 58.2% of the vote. His nearest challenger, Republican Paul Berry III, had 36.5%.
St. Louis County experienced one of the highest turnouts it has ever seen in an election, with more than 78% of registered voters casting ballots.
County Councilwoman Kelli Dunaway, D-2nd District, easily defeated Republican Jerry Bowen and Libertarian Arnold Trembley, with 63.6% of the vote.
Ernie Trakas, R-6th District, won with 53.1%, defeating his Democratic challenger, Bob Burns, by a six-point margin. Trakas had been down earlier in the night after absentee totals were posted, but he overtook Burns later on the strength of votes cast on Election Day.
Shalonda Webb, the newcomer who upset Rochelle Walton Gray, D-4th District, in the Democratic primary in August, won 78.5% in her race, handily defeating Republican Curtis Faulkner and Libertarian Eric S. Harris.
Page overcame weeks of bitter opposition from County Council members who passed legislation that would have curbed the authority of his office and the health department during a pandemic.
Page vetoed both measures and the council did not have five votes to override him. Two council members also asked the county counselor to initiate an investigation into whether Page violated the county charter by working part time at his anesthesiology practice.
And, he faced vocal opposition on social media over his conservative approach to lifting coronavirus restrictions in the county.
In remarks on Facebook Live on Tuesday night, Page said, “We spend a lot of time talking about the differences between politics and policy. Although the lines have been blurred for some, they’ve been clearer to me. Saving lives is not a partisan decision, and we can’t let it be.”
“With the election behind us, it’s time to talk about what we have in common: a vision of a vibrant, successful, safe St. Louis County” Page said. “We may disagree on how we get there, but with that common goal, there should be more that unites us than divides us.”
Page became county executive on April 29, 2019, the same day that former County Executive Steve Stenger resigned and an indictment was unsealed in a federal pay-to-play case. The council voted 5-1 to select Page, who had been its chairman, to serve as county executive until the next general election.
The position will be up for election again in 2022.
Berry, a financially troubled entrepreneur, had tried to harness a wave of conservative anger over restrictions on youth sports. He capitalized by showing up at protests with campaign signs and sued Page on behalf of his teenage daughter, a senior at Pattonville High School who was barred from competing in cheerleading. Berry withdrew the suit when Page rolled back the restrictions in late September.
Virtually shunned by his party in his failed 2016 bid to unseat then-County Executive Steve Stenger, Berry managed to win nearly 40% of the vote then. Berry seemed to garner more support this time from members of his party, including Republican County Council members Tim Fitch and Mark Harder.
Berry also received an endorsement from the Fanny Lou Hamer Coalition, a group of 20 Black Democratic leaders in north St. Louis County.
But with the number of coronavirus cases sharply rising locally, Page appeared to have wide support from a less-vocal majority of county residents who agreed with his more conservative approach toward opening up the county.
Updated Wednesday with final results.