Our Call: South County, North City united by the Freeholders



The Board of Freeholders is supposed to unite people across the region behind one vision and one way forward for St. Louis.

And the board is in fact already uniting people across the region, but only because they feel unrepresented by this once-in-a-generation process.

For the first meeting last week, the county Freeholders met without the city because some members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen are holding up nominations so that residents of North City can get more representation on the board.

Aside from the practical topic of whether the city can ever get its act together enough to vote on these nominations, we sympathize with the plight of the aldermen from North City who, if we take them at face value, just want to be represented by a board that has enough power to change their lives — change their city, change their county, even change their school districts.

We want the same, and that’s why we urged the County Council to reject at least one or two of County Executive Sam Page’s nominees to the board. He only appointed one representative from South County and, separately, one to represent all 300,000 people of unincorporated St. Louis County.

The representation that aldermen are rebelling over is actually the same as that of South County — a single Freeholder. One out of 19.

The entire city of St. Louis has 300,000 people, and because the Freeholder mandate is not based on population but set in stone based on populations from the 1800s, the city gets half the board, or nine members out of 19 Freeholders.

Unincorporated South County will see 10 percent of the representation on the Board of Freeholders that city residents will get. Incorporated St. Louis County residents get eight of the nine county Freeholders, despite the fact that they live in cities that will most likely protect them in the case of passage of the likeliest merger scenario, St. Louis city re-entering the county as a municipality.

Whether north of Delmar or south of Interstate 270, South County and North City are united in lack of representation. But North City may still see an increase in its representation. South County will not.