Race for county executive offers voters tough choice

“Call the Tune” by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

No matter who wins the county executive’s race in next Tuesday’s election, one thing is for sure: The Charlie Dooley era is quickly coming to an end.

Dooley’s tenure as county executive essentially ended when 6th District County Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton, trounced him in the Democratic primary in August.

Given Stenger’s 2-to-1 margin of victory, it’s clear county voters wanted a change at the top.

And that’s good news for residents, given the repeated scandals, cronyism, nepotism, political favors and investigations we’ve witnessed under Dooley’s administration.

Five candidates are vying for the county executive’s post — Stenger; Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood; Libertarian Theodis “Theo” Brown of north county; Constitution Party candidate Joe Passanise of Creve Coeur; and activist Zaki Baruti, who has filed as a write-in candidate.

Though five are seeking the post, quite frankly, the only two viable candidates are Stenger and Stream.

Both have impressive credentials.

Stenger, an attorney and certified public accountant, was elected to the County Council in November 2008 and re-elected in November 2012.

It’s worth noting that when Stenger first ran for the County Council in 2008, we did not endorse him, as we believed he would be little more than a rubber stamp for Dooley. But after he assumed office, Stenger quickly proved that was not the case.

Stream, a Navy veteran, is retired from the U.S. Department of Defense and served on the Kirkwood Board of Education from 1992 to 2004. Since 2007, he has represented District 90 in the Missouri House.

During his service in the House, Stream become known for his ability to foster bipartisan cooperation.

County executive races typically provide a clear-cut choice for voters.

That’s not the case with this election, as we believe either candidate is more than capable of doing the job.

So the question becomes, which candidate has the ability to put Dooley’s mismanagement behind him and quickly move St. Louis County forward? With one notable exception, Stenger has developed a good relationship with other members of the County Council during his tenure — something that will allow him to hit the ground running.

We believe that gives Stenger an ever-so-slight edge over Stream.

Therefore, the Call endorses Stenger for county executive.

Republican Michael Peters is challenging Rep. Jeanne Kirkton, D-Webster Groves, for the District 91 Missouri House seat in Tuesday’s election.

Peters, a political newcomer who serves as pastor of Christ the King Church in Webster Groves, is seeking to unseat Kirkton, who is seeking her fourth and final term in the House.

Peters’ credentials are impressive, but we believe Kirkton’s record of service merits her another term.

The Call endorses Kirkton.

Republican Al Faulstich again is challenging Democratic Rep. Genise Montecillo for the District 92 Missouri House.

Montecillo was elected to the Missouri House District 66 seat in 2010.

As we’ve noted before, we had occasion to question the quality of Montecillo’s representation, especially after observing her firsthand a few years during a hearing of the Missouri House Retirement Committee.

Despite those reservations, we believe Montecillo is the better candidate in this race and the Call conditionally endorses her.

Republican Garrett Mees is challenging Rep. Bob Burns, a Democrat, for the District 93 Missouri House seat.

Mees, who has served on the Hancock Place school board since 2010, is seeking to unseat Burns, who was elected two years ago. The Call makes no endorsement in this race.

Former Rep. Cloria Brown, a Republican is challenging Rep. Vicki Englund, a Democrat who serves on the Lindbergh Board of Education, for the District 94 Missouri House seat.

Englund defeated Brown two years ago to win the seat. Four years ago, Brown defeated Englund for the District 85 seat. In 2008, Englund was elected to the District 85 Missouri House seat in 2008 by defeating Brown.

While both candidates are excellent public servants, we believe Brown is the better candidate, especially in light of Englund dropping the ball in responding to residents’ concerns about the closing of the Tesson Ferry Library.

The Call endorses Brown.

Rep. Marsha Haefner, R-Oakville, is unopposed in her re-election bid to the District 95 Missouri House seat.

Haefner first was elected to the House in 2010. The Call endorsed Haefner in 2010 and 2012.