St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced his appointments to the Board of Freeholders on Tuesday. The nine appointments will join nine board members selected by St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and one member selected by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.
Once in place, the new Board of Freeholders will have one year to come up with a plan to alter the city and county governmental structure. This could include the city re-entering the county as a municipality, among many other options.
The nine members representing St. Louis County are:
•Cheryl Milton Roberts, a Senior Equal Opportunity and Diversity Practitioner at the state Department of Transportation.
•John Nations, chair of the Business Services Group at Evans and Dixon, L.L.C. Nations served three terms as mayor of Chesterfield.
•Dee Joyner, who served as chief of staff to former St. Louis County Executive H.C. Milford.
•Mark Mantovani, who was CEO of Ansira. He ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for County Executive in 2018 against Steve Stenger.
•Carol Stroker of Hazelwood City Council, who served as state legislative liaison program coordinator for the state Department of Mental Health.
•Jason Wilson, CEO of Northwest Coffee Roasting Company and a member of the Clayton Board of Education.
•Katy Forand, president of the Lemay Child and Family Center, who works for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Advantage Realtors.
•Fred Searcy, trustee of Mt. Herald Missionary Baptist Church and director of Minority Recruitment of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562.
• Alex Garza, chief medical officer at SSM Health. Garza, previously served as chief medical officer of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and as a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves.
“As we face the future, every part of part of our community must be heard,” Page said. “This talented group will bring different perspectives, life experiences, and professional expertise to the table.”
The St. Louis County Municipal League began to advocate for a Board of Freeholders in January. That’s when the Better Together organization was proposing a merger plan that included a November 2020 statewide vote to approve a constitutional amendment creating a new “metro city.”
Better Together’s proposal hit a wall when former St. Louis County Executive Stenger was indicted on federal corruption charges, had to resign his office, and subsequently received a sentence to prison. Stenger had figured prominently in the Better Together plan and was to serve as mayor of the “metro city” that was planned.
Municipal League Executive Director Pat Kelly said if the board of freeholders comes up with a plan, it will most likely be submitted to voters in an election in the second half of 2021.
“Better Together did not have an appropriate democratic plan because it would have been submitted to all the state’s voters for approval,” said Kelly. “All along we have believed that whatever plan there is for the city and the county, it should be submitted to city and county voters.”
St. Louis City and St. Louis County split up in 1876, a move that has been called the “Great Divorce.” All previous proposals to reunite them, including those formulated by Boards of Freeholders, have failed.