Donations to County Executive Page might make him ‘worse’ than Stenger

Letters to the Editor


To the editor:

When Sam Page was selected by the County Council to be county executive in April 2019, he said pay-to-play was over and there would be a new era of transparency and accountability in St. Louis County government. Not a word turned out to be true. 

Page has now been county executive for two years, and it can be said he is as bad as Steve Stenger — maybe worse.

Last year, the county received a $173.5 million federal grant to fight the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Page got the County Council to allow him to spend the money with no involvement or scrutiny from the council. He put together a handpicked committee to supposedly advise him on how the funds should be spent. It met in secret with no public input and was headed by a city resident who was a former executive at a corporation that is Page’s biggest campaign contributor. So much for transparency.

Same as Stenger, Sam Page has no problem putting county government up for sale. Just recently on Feb. 16, he signed the final piece of the prevailing wage program he supports. The legislation ensures wages for the construction trades are kept at a high level — or prevailing wage — on any project subsidized by St. Louis County. This prevents non-union firms, who generally pay lower wages, from underbidding union firms. It would be like an ordinance that prevents discounters like Aldi and Sav-A-Lot from selling groceries at prices lower than Schnucks and Dierbergs.

There is more to the story. Page requested the County Council pass the initial prevailing wage legislation on Sept. 27, 2019. He signed it on Oct. 24, 2019. At the time Page was badly in need of campaign contributions. 

It was known that county Assessor Jake Zimmerman would be running against him in the 2020 election and that Mark Mantovani might also enter the race. At the time Zimmerman had $503,000 in his campaign treasury while Page had only $42,557. There was a belief Mantovani could finance his campaign into seven figures if he got into the race, which he eventually did.

On Dec. 27, 2019, the Laborers Union, perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the prevailing wage ordinance, contributed $50,000 to Page’s campaign. On June 26, 2020 the Laborers contributed $75,000 more. On June 29, 2020 the union gave an additional $15,000 to Page. On Oct. 2, 2020 an additional $10,000 from the Laborers Union took their total amount of contributions for the Page campaign to $150,000. Other unions have also been generous campaign contributors to Page.

Sam Page was on the County Council for four years and 10 months and was council chair for more than two years. But he never saw the need for a prevailing wage ordinance until he was county executive and in need of campaign contributions. Were the contributions from the unions tied to Page getting a prevailing wage ordinance passed? The answer should be obvious.

Tom Sullivan
University City