Let’s be frank – at the heart of so many issues affecting St. Louis City is the fact that the City and St. Louis County are not more unified. This separation has led to a redundancy in services, a disorganization of planning, and short-sighted political decisions. No one wins when St. Louis City, Clayton, and Chesterfield are competing for the same economic development; when policing varies from town to town; and when life quality measures drastically vary from ZIP code to ZIP code. “The Great Divorce of 1876” is the most important reason that our region has fallen behind metropolitan regions that had the courage to create a unified government over the past three decades like Nashville or Indianapolis. To reunite our metro is going to take enormous political will and vision about our shared future.
As alderman, I pledge to be a strong proponent of City-County reunification. Several studies exist or are ongoing about exactly what model of governance may be best suited for the region, but one thing is clear: the decision must be made sooner rather than later. I pledge to look for ways currently where the City and County could merge services or foster cooperation. For example, it is no secret that the St. Louis metro is suffering from several public health crises. From gun violence to opioid addiction to sexually transmitted diseases, there’s little reason why one public health department isn’t addressing this issue. These issues don’t stop at municipal boundaries, and they won’t be solved within them alone. With a more unified region, we could leverage the needs of 3 million over, say, 300,000, when pursuing investments and opportunities that would benefit everyone. We should be addressing long-term opportunities and challenges, and so many other issues that don’t know geographic boundaries, with one voice instead of the voices of hundreds of elected officials. St. Louis City needs strong voices to push for smart, regional solutions, and I aim to be one of those voices.