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Page wants county freeholders to delay substantive work until city members are on board

Page wants county freeholders to delay substantive work until city members are on board

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St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page in a meeting last month at St. Louis City Hall. Photo by Christina M. Fletes, cfletes@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS COUNTY — County Executive Sam Page on Friday urged his appointees to the metropolitan Board of Freeholders to delay any substantive discussions until the city of St. Louis’ delegation is approved.

“Without City participation on the board, our residents would question the board’s legitimacy to speak on the region’s behalf,” Page said in a letter emailed to his nine appointees and the sole member named by Gov. Mike Parson.

The board is supposed to consider possible changes to the governing structures of the city and county for the next year.

But Mayor Lyda Krewson and some city aldermen have been deadlocked for more than two weeks over who should represent the city, leading to the possibility there will be no city members in place when the freeholders board holds its initial meeting.

That’s now scheduled for Nov. 12 at St. Louis City Hall, a change from the Monday date that had been announced by Aldermanic President Lewis Reed.

Page in his email also urged his appointees to begin thinking how the overall board could best engage “our diverse community, particularly those often underrepresented or left out altogether.”

To that end, he recommended that they become familiar with previous studies and evaluations of issues facing the metro area — including many reports focusing on racial inequity, which Page called “our region’s hallmark challenge.”

Among them: the report of the Ferguson Commission, the panel that studied racial disparities in the region after unrest in response to the police shooting of Michael Brown in that north St. Louis County community in 2014.

“I ask that you be conscious and intentional about how any proposal the board considers will impact racial equity,” Page said.

Page also suggested the freeholders review the research performed by the Better Together organization, which put together a now-discarded plan to merge the city, county and all the county’s municipalities into one entity.

That would have gone before voters at a statewide election.

Page, however, had said not leaving that decision to St. Louis and St. Louis County voters wasn’t the right process. Krewson supported the Better Together plan.

The freeholders board’s creation was spurred by a petition drive by county municipal leaders as an alternative to the Better Together plan, something strongly opposed by many of them.

Anything proposed by the freeholders board would require voter approval by separate majorities in the city and county.

Krewson’s nine appointments have been mired in the aldermanic Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, which has refused to vote on sending them to the full Board of Aldermen, saying they wanted more representation from north St. Louis.

Reed said Friday he believed that a compromise on the city names will be worked out by the Nov. 12 freeholders meeting. But as of Friday afternoon, a top Reed aide said nothing had been worked out.

The freeholders process is outlined in the Missouri Constitution and was last used about 30 years ago.

The County Council approved eight of Page’s nominees last week and the ninth on Tuesday.

The Constitution requires the first meeting of the new board to be held on the second Monday after the completion of the appointments.

Because a quorum — 10 members of the 19-member board — has now been approved, Reed and Page see Nov. 11 as the date in the constitutional timeline. Because that’s the Veterans Day holiday, Page and Reed opted for the following day.

Among Page’s appointees are Mark Mantovani, the businessman who narrowly lost to Steve Stenger in last year’s Democratic primary for county executive, and John Nations, a former CEO of the Bi-State Development Agency and former Chesterfield mayor.

The Page list also includes Dee Joyner, a former top aide to former County Executives Gene McNary and H.C. Milford; Cheryl Roberts, a Missouri Department of Transportation official; Carol Stroker, a Hazelwood City Council member and former state legislator; Jason Wilson, a Clayton School Board member; Katy Forand, a former aide to then-Gov. Matt Blunt; Plumbers and Pipefitters Union official Fred Searcy and Alex Garza, chief medical officer at SSM Health.

Among Krewson’s nominees are Eddie Roth, a former top City Hall official and the Rev. Earl Nance Jr., a prominent pastor active in many civic causes.

Others on the mayor’s list are attorneys Jerry Schlichter and Dan Zdrodowski; Abdul-Kaba Abdullah, a development corporation official and a former Berkeley city manager; IT consultant LaShana Lewis; Taunia Allen Mason, a St. Louis Science Center manager and city Port Authority member; Joe Hodes, the city Republican chairman, and Bridget Flood, executive director of a nonprofit foundation.

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