North county lifts Stenger to victory

In south county, Stenger performs best in Lemay, receiving 51 percent of vote

Sixth District Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton, promises his supporters at his victory party that he will restore their faith in county government. Pictured, front row, from left, are: 5th District Councilman Pat Dolan, D-Richmond Heights, who won re-election; Stenger's sister Debbie Mourning; Stenger; Leslie Broadnax; Stenger's wife Allison; and former Sen. Betty Thompson.

Sixth District Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton, promises his supporters at his victory party that he will restore their faith in county government. Pictured, front row, from left, are: 5th District Councilman Pat Dolan, D-Richmond Heights, who won re-election; Stenger’s sister Debbie Mourning; Stenger; Leslie Broadnax; Stenger’s wife Allison; and former Sen. Betty Thompson.

By Gloria Lloyd

Township reports released by the county Board of Election Commissioners last week show that 6th District Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton, earned his narrow victory for county executive over Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, the same way County Executive Charlie Dooley was elected so many times: through north county.

Stenger lost most of his home base in south county, in some cases by a huge margin. Still, barring a recount by Stream — which his campaign said was still a possibility at the time the Call went to press — Stenger is preparing to take office by assembling his transition team, which will decide who Stenger should appoint to county jobs in what will be a clean sweep of Dooley’s appointments.

“I believe you could characterize it as ‘cleaning house,’” Stenger said when asked if current appointed county employees will be out of their jobs when he takes over from Dooley Jan. 1. “I think that that’s what the voters of St. Louis County, the residents of St. Louis County and the businesses of St. Louis County have called for — so that’s what I plan on doing.”

Stenger’s transition team, chaired by attorney Greg Smith, will make recommendations on who will replace Dooley’s many county appointments, including department heads, the chief of staff and other key personnel. Many of the people who hold those positions, like County Counselor Pat Redington and Chief Operating Officer Garry Earls, have held the same jobs for Dooley’s entire 11 years in office.

Ultimately, however, hiring — and firing — decisions lie with Stenger.

In the election earlier this month, Stream fared better than any Republican in decades in north county, which observers have spun either as a success or a failure of a bid by a coalition of black north county Democratic elected leaders, the Fannie Lou Hamer Coalitio, to elect him.

Stenger lost his home base in south county, which Stream predicted in a rally in Lemay this fall.

“This election is going to be won or lost in south county,” Stream said. “Steve Stenger thinks he’s going to get a big plus vote out of south county, and I don’t see how it happens based on the conversations I’ve had for the last six months.

“I know all of you could tell a number of stories about Steve Stenger being unresponsive and completely working against the will of the people here in south county on a variety of issues,” Stream added.

Other Democrats running countywide outperformed Stenger by wide margins. Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch earned 83,000 more votes than Stenger, and Assessor Jake Zimmerman earned 30,000 more.

In south county, Stenger fared best in Lemay, where he lived when he first ran for the council, winning 51 percent to 46 percent over Stream.

He did the worst in Oakville, losing to Stream 60 percent to 37 percent. Stream comfortably won Tesson Ferry Township, 58 percent to 40 percent.

Rep. Marsha Haefner, R-Oakville, who won re-election with no opponent, served as Stream’s campaign treasurer.

The race was closer in some of the other south county townships: Stream won Concord and Gravois townships, but by the same, smaller margin, 50 percent to 47 percent. Stream won in most of the Crestwood precincts, but by smaller margins than in the Sunset Hills and Grantwood Village precincts, where he won by a landslide over Stenger.

Stenger won north county, but by smaller margins than Dooley traditionally has. His best performances were in the last precincts to be counted, Ferguson and Spanish Lake, where he won 62 percent and 63 percent of the vote, respectively — compared to 81 percent and 79 percent for Dooley four years ago.

Stream comfortably carried west county and split his home base of Kirkwood and the mid-county precincts with Stenger.