Pictured above: The room of Municipal League mayors votes to set up a Board of Freeholders in St. Louis County at Chesterfield City Hall Jan. 24. Photo by Gloria Lloyd.
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page is currently accepting applications for the Board of Freeholders, the group that can make changes to the St. Louis County-St. Louis city governance structure under the Missouri Constitution. The board will provide residents a “forum to discuss the future governmental structure of the region,” Page said.
The Municipal League of Metro St. Louis turned in enough signatures to require a Board of Freeholders either days ago, and the process could kick into gear as soon as this Friday, Page said. He is still seeking applications and encourages residents interested in serving on the board to apply.
For more information on the Board of Freeholders, visit stlmuni.org/board-of-freeholders. To receive or submit an application, email Elizabeth Mierzejewski at email@example.com.
The Board of Freeholders, also called the Board of Electors, will have 19 members. Page and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson will each appoint nine members, and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson will appoint one.
Page said Tuesday that so far, he’s received “a lot” of applications, too many to count.
“We’re reviewing the list and we’re talking about it,” he said, but he still welcomes new applications: “We will have a Board of Freeholders that is diverse demographically, represents St. Louis County and represents different points of view.”
He said he will not choose members based on their specific points of view, but rather based on whether they can get along with a working group of people for such an important task.
“When it comes to shaping our region’s future, community engagement and input are critical,” Page said in a news release. “We need to listen to our residents. Whatever the Board of Freeholders proposes will have to be ratified by the people of St. Louis County.”
In January, after concerns emerged regarding a city-county merger proposal, the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis initiated a petition to establish a Board of Freeholders. The League was required to obtain roughly 20,000 signatures – about 15,000 from the county and about 5,000 from the city.
“I appreciate the instrumental leadership of the Municipal League in this process,” Page said in the release. “I look forward to hearing the recommendations of the board, and I am ready to support a plan if it is in the best interest of the people of St. Louis County and approved by voters.”
The League submitted the completed petition to the election boards in the county and city in mid-September, and county Democratic Elections Director Eric Fey said while the count is not final, he believes the League submitted enough signatures to invoke the Board of Freeholders. From the date the petition is certified, Page, Krewson and Parson will have 10 days to submit their Board of Freeholders nominations. The nominations must be approved by the St. Louis County Council and the St. Louis City Board of Aldermen.
The Board of Freeholders will have up to one year to formulate a plan, which would be voted on by residents in the county and the city.