County executive eyes changes to membership of library board

Board should be responsive to community, Stenger says

Steve Stenger

Steve Stenger

By Gloria Lloyd

You can read the second article in the series


During County Executive Steve Stenger’s first 100 days in office, he has four overriding goals, and along with action on Ferguson, revamping county departments and a top-to-bottom audit of county government, he told the Call that one of his key priorities is making changes to the St. Louis County Library Board of Directors.

“There will definitely be some new board members — which ones they replace, that remains to be determined,” Stenger said. “We want people to be on that board who are responsive to the public and who have the community’s best interest at heart and in mind.”

The terms of all the members of the five-member county library board have already expired or will expire in the coming months. The entire board was appointed by former County Executive Charlie Dooley.

The term of President Lynn Beckwith of Florissant, who is also the president of the Riverview Gardens Board of Education, is up this June. That is also when the term of the newest board member, Stephen Sachs of Ladue, expires. He was appointed in 2012.

The other members’ terms are expired.

The term of Secretary Chingling Tai of Creve Coeur has been expired since June 2012, the term of Vice President Edith Cunnane of Creve Coeur has been expired since June 2013 and the term of Treasurer Elena Garcia Kenyon of Hazelwood has been expired since June 2014.

The Call contacted all the library board members for comment on their potential replacement and received no response.

Currently, no one on the board is from south county, and Stenger pledged that will also change with his new appointments.

During Stenger’s campaign for county executive last fall, he told the Call that he believes the board did not properly handle the relocation of the Tesson Ferry Library or properly address the concerns of residents after an announcement of the library’s new location had been made. At the time, he represented the residents who use Tesson Ferry on the County Council.

The library board oversaw the library’s $108 million Proposition L initiative that is replacing Tesson Ferry with a new $16 million library, Grant’s View, across from Grant’s Farm, a site unanimously chosen by board members.

A forum promised during the Prop L campaign for residents to give their input on the new location never happened, and many residents believe the location is less accessible than the current library.

Dooley concluded the library move was made with the full input of the public, but other officials have been more critical.

“I am a person who believes that the public itself feels let down, which is the best sign a problem exists,” Stenger said. “The board acted without consultation with the County Council and is at odds with the public.”

Rep. Cloria Brown, R-Lemay, whose constituents use the Tesson Ferry Branch, said she welcomes changes to the library board and also hopes the new members will be more responsive to the public and know more about south county.

“They were less than honest (about Proposition L), as far as I’m concerned, so hopefully any new board members that they get will be people that actually know something about the district,” she said. “Nobody in my district ever thought they would close (Tesson Ferry) and move it somewhere else.”


to read Part 2 in the series.