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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bill Corrigan Didn't Have to Win Election to Kill St. Louis Merger Discussion

Posted By on Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 8:55 AM

Dooley 'n Corrigan: Wait, which candidate won?
  • Dooley 'n Corrigan: Wait, which candidate won?
Updated 10:38 a.m. with response from Dooley's office.

The unofficial results have incumbent Charlie Dooley defeating Republican challenger Bill Corrigan 51 percent to 47 percent in the race for St. Louis County Executive.

But could it be that Corrigan won despite his defeat? One gets that impression listening to Dooley on the day after the election.

Corrigan made his campaign all about ending any talks about merging the city and the county. As Corrigan's television commercials warned, such a merger could bankrupt the county. Then there was the implied message of the advertisement: "Hey white-flight residents of the suburbs, didn't you run from the city for a reason?"
In the wake of Dooley's victory yesterday, we here at Daily RFT were optimistic that cooler heads had prevailed and that the county executive could continue to consider a merger that might save the city and county from performing duplicate services -- making better use of tax dollars and strengthening the entire region.

Then Dooley spoke to reporters.

"The city-county merger issue will not be one of my priorities in the next term," Dooley told the Post-Dispatch yesterday. "It's not a Dooley or a (St. Louis Mayor Francis) Slay thing. It's got to be what the people want. And apparently, people are not interested in doing it right now."

Hmm. Who are the people in which Dooley is referring? They wouldn't be Corrigan supporters, would they? 

Also, how does Dooley know that the people don't want a merger? We're not aware of any polling on the issue. We have a call out to Dooley's office for more information. Back at ya when we hear something.

Update: Dooley spokesman, Mac Scott, tells Daily RFT that the county executive's statement yesterday does not mean that talks of a city-county merger are off the table for the next four years.

"It's just not on the agenda for everyday business," says Scott. "In the long-term Charlie is open to discussing the idea if it will help the economy of both the county and city, bring jobs and make the region better."

That said, Scott says Dooley's primary focus for now is to improve the economy of St. Louis County. He adds that the county executive has not conducted polling on the issue. Conversations during the campaign suggested residents are more interested in generating jobs than adding the city as another municipality of the county.

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