GOP candidates run for county executive

GOP+candidates+run+for+county+executive

By Emily Klein
Staff Reporter
emilyklein@callnewspapers.com

A Republican candidate for St. Louis County executive will be waiting to challenge whoever wins the battle between Democrats Steve Stenger and Mark Mantovani in the Democratic primary Tuesday, Aug. 7.

Republicans Paul Berry III and Daniel Sampson are running in the Aug. 7 Republican primary. Both candidates have never held public office.

Berry did not return the Call’s questionnaire.

Sampson, 35, 4636 Bridlewood Terrace, Concord, is a solution architect at Byrne Software Technologies and a former county employee. He and his wife, Dawn, have three young children.

Sampson has never held public office but has unsuccessfully run for the Lindbergh Board of Education three times. He earned a doctorate in computer science from Arizona State University.

Daniel Sampson

When asked why he is seeking public office, Sampson said, “When I was an employee, I witnessed firsthand the issues that plague the county from top down. I spent five-and-a-half years trying to be a positive change and told others that when I left, if I ever came back, it would be to do so in a position to make an effective change.

“Watching the past four years go by with the bickering and continued misguided leadership or lack of effective leadership from the current executive made me angry. This is continuing to hurt the county. I want to see a positive change now, so I am running to be that change.”

What issue do you consider the single most important in this race?

Sampson said, “Our budget; we do not have the means to continue the careless spending that has been ongoing for more than a decade. We have departments that treat the taxes of the residents as a glorified ‘piggy bank,’ and the checks and balances in place are not working. We need to get this under control; our pension system is and has been depleting our reserves. We can help the community if we cannot get function within our means.

What other issues do you perceive in your race and your position on each:

Sampson said, “Our service to the residents, permitting, plans, code enforcement needs an overhaul. We need to be ensuring that our program is easy to use, understand and accessible to all. I believe our current executive promised to make this a priority, but this still has not changed in four years. Other concerns are educating residents on the rules in the county. How are people expected to follow rules if they: do not understand the laws and do not know what laws have been placed?  We need proactive programs that assist in the revitalization of St. Louis County, in all districts. We need to get creative in getting business to be successful.”

Do you believe the St. Louis County Planning Commission is responsive to county residents? How long should appointees serve on the Planning Commission? Is there anything about the zoning process that should change?

Sampson said, “I believe there are better ways to provide notices and receive responses in a timely manner from residents. The zoning process should be easy and efficient. I have heard too many times, residents not getting notified or hearing about a plan after the time for a response has passed. There should never be a surprise and ample time and effort should be made so all are aware. As for appointee service, if the length of time is too long then maybe a shorter period for being appointed may be needed.”

What is your position on incorporation?

Sampson said, “It is part of our constitution, as with anything else, it needs to be used for the reason it was established and not to be abused.”

Should the county executive attend County Council meetings?

Sampson said, “Yes, it’s part of the executive’s job. Unless they have a scheduled vacation or illness, this should be a priority and not a secondary scheduled event.”

Do you believe the County Council should approve legislation prohibiting council members from accepting campaign contributions from developers?

Sampson said, “Absolutely, how has this not happened already? You are essentially allowing corruption to walk right through the front door of the county. County executive should be above reproach when it comes to leases and dealing with campaign contributors. How many times now have we seen those contributors end up in the county positions that they are unqualified for? This insanity needs to stop.”

Are you satisfied with the current state of the county’s assessment process?

Sampson said, “Not in the slightest. There are state guidelines that must be adhered to, but the process is severely lacking strategy and the number of appeals creates another set of issues that we need to address.”

Are you satisfied with the direction the county is headed under County Executive Steve Stenger?

Sampson said, “No, hence why I am running.”

Do you support a merger of St. Louis County and St. Louis City?

Sampson said, “No, this relationship between the two has had bad blood for decades. The city may need the county, but the county does not need and currently does not want the city’s problems and debt. If the city wants to contract with the county like the municipalities then we look into that, but the county should not have to take on the city’s debt, corruption, and problems. We have our own to address.

What measures, if any, will you propose to encourage economic development in south county?

Sampson said, “I would like to find out from the residents of south county what types of development they would like to see in this area before any measure is proposed. Those living here know best what worked, what doesn’t and what would bring businesses to the area. Our businesses currently here should also have a voice as this will directly affect them in the future. We need to listen and learn before we should react to significant changes such as this. I have my own ideas, but that doesn’t mean that is what is best for south county.”

Are cuts needed to balance the county’s budget? What do you see as the status of county finances?

Sampson said, “Yes, we need effective employees not just a lot of numbers to be efficient. Our finances our dire, it is my main concern and needs corrective action immediately. We do not need a financial crisis with what we already have to attend with.”

Should the County Council have its own attorney besides the county counselor?

Sampson said, “Yes. If anything has proven this, it has been the past 4 years, having a counselor serving to different groups, how can that be unbiased?”

What will you do to address the problems exposed by the unrest in Ferguson?

Sampson said, “It starts with educating, understanding the actual issues and listening to each other. This is a not a Ferguson issue, nor a St Louis County one, it is a national and more likely global issue from the human condition. We need to be educating our children on what it means to co-exist and be neighborly to one another. We have seen a decline in the past decade and I believe it is a direct correlation to how parent’s raise (or ignore) their children during critical development. How can we expect others to act respectively and honor one another when we don’t do it ourselves or all they see is actions that reflect selfishness? This is an issue that cannot be fixed by simply waiting it out, those of us as adults and in leadership positions must show others how we need to work together and treat one another if we are to see any real positive progress.”

Should the city of St. Louis enter the county as a municipality?

Sampson said, “Yes.”

If you are currently the county executive, what is your greatest accomplishment for the county? If you are not county executive, what is your greatest accomplishment for the county?

Sampson said, “Relationships I was able to build with members of the community during my time as an employee. The positive feedback and input I have gathered from County employees and residents with ideas towards positive change for our community.”

How will you attract new businesses and jobs into the county?

Sampson said, “Start by cleaning areas of the county where businesses may want to reside but cannot be effective due to numerous issues the county has to deal with. When businesses see that we are being effective more will want to be a part of the positive changes.”

Has the county violated the Sunshine Law?

Sampson said, “Yes. The county has either been changing the person to contact as a game of cat and mouse or completely ignoring the request and response in the time required by law. The fact that this is still occurring proves we need effective leadership and accountability which we are not getting now.”

What are your thoughts on the county’s lease for a new North County Government Center in the former Northwest Plaza mall?

Sampson said, “Should never have been allowed or authorized. I personally feel I was just robbed of years of my property taxes to the county. It should be crystal clear to all residents that the executive did this in part of the ‘pay to play’ and gained a large amount of contributions my having the county now under a long term lease. This is the type of corruption that should make your blood boil, and if you aren’t outraged by this type of action, ask yourself, why not?”

Do you have plans to expand MetroLink? What will you do to improve MetroLink security?

Sampson said, “Metro should be hiring and not having the county pay for expansion. We should not be expanding until the security and safety of all passengers has been addressed. This has been yet another example of misused county finances.”

Should the county spend more or less on the Metro budget? What changes would you like to see, if any?

Sampson said, “We should be spending less to none. The Metro needs to make significant changes if it wants to continue to be a part of the county. It should be held to the same standards as any other business entity working within the county.”

Are changes needed to the county Charter at this time?

Sampson said, “Yes. Hopefully the 3 proposals up for August 7 election are just the start. I want to work with the Council to make the charter more effective and clear to the rules we should be adhering to,” Sampson said.

Do you support the construction of a new county police station at Sappington and Gravois?

Sampson said, “If the outcome of the station provides effective protection and service to residents then yes. Will it? We need to plan and be mindful anytime we desire to build versus renovate property. We should have funding for such events budgeted before any consideration is made to changes such as this.”

What will you do to oversee spending from Proposition P?

Sampson said, “I want every penny to be accounted for that it follows exactly what residents thought it was supposed to address. If the money is not able to be used in that way it should not be collected. I feel that this was rushed and although I am for what it stood for, the way it was written allows for opportunities for misspending. There should be reporting to the public about where this money went and how it was spent to follow the proposition. We may even need to appoint an employee to oversee it.”

What is your opinion of the performance of county Auditor Mark Tucker?

Sampson said, “I believe the games played by the executive to attempt to remove Mr. Tucker for reasons beyond a lack of audits has hurt any effort that could have been done to this point. I would have like to have seen some audits by this point but also hope that the Council understands why this has not been accomplished. If both sides were working for the goal of the county then this may not be the issue it is today. At this time, I don’t believe I have enough accurate details to provide a performance option on Mr. Tucker. Ask me again in three months.”

What are your thoughts on the St. Louis County police?

Sampson said, “I think they are an asset to the County. I would like to see more visibility from them in terms of being visible to residents in areas where police assistance is needed. I think they have done a good job in general, as there is always room for improvement.”

What is the biggest issue facing St. Louis County today? What will you do to fix it?

Sampson said, “The county budget. Finding ways to balance while not taking away from the functions to serve residents.”

What are your thoughts on how the current County Council is operating? Should the council continue pursuing its lawsuit against the county executive?

Sampson said, “Yes. Council attempted to resolve this without the lawsuit.”

If elected, will you accept campaign contributions from developers with projects pending or recently approved in the county?

Sampson said, “Never.”

What is your opinion of a subdivision proposed at the Tower Tee property?

Sampson said, “Hopeful that the more than 150 proposed homes is not approved by zoning and that the wishes of the residents is heard.”