The Call endorses Sam Page for 2020’s county executive election



Those opposed to the COVID-19 restrictions enacted this year by County Executive Sam Page, a Democrat appointed to the office last year, may be tempted to vote for Republican Paul Berry.

But we don’t think the reality of a Berry administration would live up to the hype Berry has stirred up at recent protests against youth-sports restrictions.

Unlike many, we don’t believe that it’s out of the realm of possibility that a Republican could get elected as county executive, and this may have been the year if the GOP had fielded a candidate without a string of financial woes, mishaps and court judgments. This is not that year. He’s a nice guy but a problematic candidate.

Berry also ran in 2018 against then-County Executive Steve Stenger. The Call has an extensive candidate questionnaire, as any of the South County politicians featured in these pages can attest to. But we’ve had continual difficulty getting it from Berry, more than any other candidate we’ve ever dealt with. Berry recognized this and profusely apologized at the start of this campaign season for not being responsive two years ago. Things would be different this year, he promised.

But things weren’t any different. Berry did submit The Call’s candidate questionnaire for the primary — two weeks late and not fully completed. When he submitted it 14 days late instead of 15 days late, he acted like he was doing us a favor. He gave us reasons — there was a hack on his campaign, and then there was a power outage. We’re not sure what happened for November, when the questions were nearly the same with a few added, but Berry didn’t submit our questionnaire at all.

Page, however, submitted his before the deadline. Page has met all our deadlines. Needless to say, being county executive requires scrupulously meeting deadlines.

Perhaps to someone who lives in a city and only sees the county executive as some figurehead in Clayton unrelated to their day-to-day life, that tradeoff would be acceptable. But to our readers in South County, who are mostly unincorporated, the county executive gets much of the say — sometimes the only say — over their day-to-day government services. We simply cannot recommend that readers vote for a candidate with no evidence that he can do this very important job.

There are many things about Page’s administration that we don’t agree with, including his embrace of the county executive’s power that he fought so hard to take away from his predecessor Steve Stenger.

But there are many things that we believe Page has done right, and we are happy to endorse him for it: His stay-at-home order saved lives. We appreciate his calm demeanor and willingness to change course if an idea appears to not be working out as well as he’d hoped. There are still a myriad of things wrong with county government, but we think Page has a sincere desire to improve many of them.

The Call endorses Sam Page.