Erby, Trakas stay friendly after exchange during convention center vote

County+Councilwoman+Hazel+Erby+shakes+the+hand+of+a+supporter+who+told+her+%22You%27re+amazing%22+after+a+contentious+exchange+with+Councilman+Ernie+Trakas+April+16.+Photo+by+Gloria+Lloyd.

County Councilwoman Hazel Erby shakes the hand of a supporter who told her “You’re amazing” after a contentious exchange with Councilman Ernie Trakas April 16. Photo by Gloria Lloyd.

By Gloria Lloyd
News Editor
glorialloyd@callnewspapers.com

The warm words between 6th District County Councilman Ernie Trakas, R-Oakville, and departing 1st District Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City, last week were a sharp turnaround from a month ago.

Before a vote April 16 on whether to approve spending $6 million a year from the county hotel-motel sales tax to expand the America’s Center convention center attached to The Dome football stadium in downtown St. Louis, Trakas said Erby and her fellow Democrats should feel “shame,” and Erby said she felt the 6th District councilman was bullying her.

The exchanges — some of the most biting ever seen on the council —  were all the more surprising because since Trakas joined the council Jan. 1, 2017, he and Erby were unlikely allies, even working together to pass a minority contracting bill.

But early in the meeting during public comments, Trakas rose from his seat and crossed the dais to Erby’s seat, slamming down a note.

“When you came down and slammed this note in front of me, I felt that it was bullying,” Erby later said.

“Really?” Trakas replied. “Well, that’s how I felt when you came up to me before this thing started and told me you were going to move the bill after you’d told me you were going to hold it.”

Erby later added, “I will not be  bullied.”

Although Erby would not show the exact note to reporters after the meeting, she said that it asked her to hold the legislation. But she’d already held it for weeks, she said, and she felt that those asking her to hold it would never vote for it anyway.

She ended her comments on a positive note, however.

“We’ll be OK,” she assured reporters.

And it seemed that she was right.

“What everyone witnessed last week was two elected officials passionately advocating their respective positions; no different than Jefferson and Adams or Madison and Hamilton,” Trakas said April 23. “This is, in fact, a good thing; evidence of a healthy democracy. Furthermore, everyone knows how much I respect Hazel Erby and value our friendship. She knows this. So our working relationship will continue, and our friendship will continue to flourish.”