Republicans call for in-person St. Louis County Council meetings

St.+Louis+County+Councilman+and+then-Presiding+Officer+Ernie+Trakas+listens+to+public+comment+from+mothers+of+St.+Louis+County+policemen+at+a+2019+council+meeting.

Photo by Erin Achenbach

St. Louis County Councilman and then-Presiding Officer Ernie Trakas listens to public comment from mothers of St. Louis County policemen at a 2019 council meeting.

The Republican members of the St. Louis County Council are asking that county government start holding in-person meetings again.

The County Council has observed the Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 social distancing guidelines since they were instituted March 17 and has conducted our videoconferenced meetings since that time, under emergency legislation passed quickly as the pandemic hit.

But the three GOP council members —6th District Councilman Ernie Trakas of Oakville, 3rd District Councilman Tim Fitch of Fenton and 7th District Councilman Mark Harder of Ballwin — say they want to return to the council Chambers at the Government Center at 41 S. Central Ave. again.

“While we have become somewhat adept at using video conferencing technology and the public has somewhat adapted to the temporary method developed for participation in the public forum portion of our agendas, we believe these temporary measures are not the best method for public participation in good governance,” the Republican members said in a statement.

The county Administration Building has been reopened to staff, although the public is still not allowed on upper floors.

The Republicans are requesting that in-person meetings resume June 30, as building capacities would allow roughly 100 people to attend in-person meetings.

Attendees would have their temperatures taken entering the building and could be encouraged to wear masks in the meeting, the Republicans said.

They believe there would be enough room on the dais to spread council members and staff out to achieve the appropriate distancing, while other staff could watch the meeting live from their offices.

Residents who are still limiting their exposure could continue to send in their comments via email to be read into the record per current practice, the GOP said.