October 31, 2012 - "All politics is local," according to the late Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tip O'Neill.
With so much on the line in next Tuesday's election, truer words were never spoken as those we elect are going to have to deliver on the promises they've made. With that in mind, the Call makes its endorsements for next week's election.
Republican Tony Pousosa, a Green Park Ward 1 alderman, is challenging Democratic incumbent Steve Stenger of Affton for the 6th District County Council seat in Tuesday's election.
Four years ago, this newspaper did not endorse Stenger in the race for the 6th District seat.
We believed Stenger would be a rubber stamp for Democratic County Executive Charlie Dooley. Within a short period of time after taking office, Stenger's actions proved nothing could be further from the truth.
During his tenure on the County Council, Stenger repeatedly has stood up for south county and its residents and has clashed on numerous occasions with Dooley.
Stenger, who served as council chairman last year, led the opposition to Dooley's proposed 2012 budget that called for the closing of 23 county parks, eliminating 175 jobs and not plowing streets in unincorporated areas of snow when accumulations are 2 inches or less, among other things.
Because of his concerns, Stenger appointed a Special Budget Committee to review Dooley's proposed budget. Ultimately, all county parks remained open under a compromise reached between Dooley and the County Council.
Pousosa has done an excellent job serving Green Park citizens as an alderman since 2007. We believe he has the potential to be an excellent member of the County Council.
However, given Stenger's strong record of standing up for south county since taking office, we believe he deserves to serve another four years.
The Call endorses Stenger.
Democratic state Rep. Scott Sifton of Affton is challenging Republican incumbent Jim Lembke of Lemay for the 1st District state Senate seat.
However, the newly redrawn 1st Senate District is starkly different from the one four years ago in which Lembke narrowly prevailed over Democrat Joan Barry. Lembke's fellow Republicans certainly did him no favors in the redrawing of the district's boundaries.
We don't believe it would be a stretch to say that Lembke has alienated some of the more moderate members of his own party, particularly with his ill-advised filibuster last year over federal funding for the state's long-term unemployed. And then there's Lembke's well-publicized penchant for accepting gifts from lobbyists.
In contrast, Sifton has called on the Legislature to pass a strong ethics reform bill that would include the ban of all lobbyist gifts. In fact, he has pledged that the "first piece of legislation I file will be a total ban on lobbyist gifts to legislators, their staffs and their families …"
The two candidates offer a stark contrast in their views of how they would represent citizens of the 1st Senate District. Given that, the Call endorses Sifton.
Missouri House District 92
Republican Al Faulstich is challenging Democratic Rep. Genise Montecillo for the Missouri House seat in the newly redrawn 92nd District. Montecillo was elected to the Missouri House District 66 seat in 2010.
It's no secret that we've previously voiced concerns about the quality of Montecillo's representation, especially after observing her firsthand during a hearing of the Missouri House Retirement Committee.
However, given Faulstich's responses to our questionnaire, it's hard to give credence to his candidacy. Therefore, the Call conditionally endorses Montecillo.
Missouri House District 93
Democrat Bob Burns and Republican Tony Leech are vying for the Missouri House seat in the newly redrawn District 93 in the Tuesday's election. The Call makes no endorsement in this race.
Missouri House District 94
Vicki Englund, a Democrat who serves on the Lindbergh Board of Education, is challenging Republican Rep. Cloria Brown in Tuesday's election for the Missouri House seat in the newly redrawn 94th District.
Englund was elected to the District 85 Missouri House seat in 2008 by defeating Brown. Two years ago, Brown defeated Englund for the District 85 seat.
While both candidates are excellent public servants, we believe Brown better represents the views of the residents of the 94th District.
The Call endorses Brown.
Missouri House District 95
Democrat Joe Zelle is challenging Republican Rep. Marsha Haefner in Tuesday's election for the Missouri House seat in the newly redrawn 95th District.
Two years ago, we endorsed Haefner in her bid for the District 100 seat, largely because of her stated belief that changes are needed to the Public School and Education Employee Retirement Systems of Missouri.
Two years later, we're disappointed her words speak louder than her actions.
Her opponent, Zelle, appears to be well-qualified and likely would make a good state representative. However, Zelle believes no problem exists with the state teachers' retirement system — a notion we equate to kicking the can down the road for future generations to resolve.
Given the fact that she recognizes a problem exists with the state's teachers' retirement system, we believe Haefner deserves another two years to attempt to make the changes she believes are necessary.
The Call endorses Haefner.
The St. Louis County Library is asking voters to approve a tax-rate increase next week.
The 6-cent tax-rate increase, Proposition L, would fund construction, renovation and upgrades to facilities. The tax rate would increase from 16.3 cents per assessed valuation to 22.3 cents if Prop L is approved.
While a 6-cent tax-rate increase may not seem like a lot of money, we believe a bond issue would be a more appropriate vehicle for the construction program envisioned by the library's appointed Board of Trustees. Once the bonds are retired, the tax-rate increase would sunset.
Under the proposed Prop L, the tax-rate increase would continue to be collected forever even though the associated debt has been retired. In addition, if Prop L is approved, the library's tax-rate ceiling would increase to 26 cents per $100 from the current 20 cents, allowing the board to further increase the tax rate.
We would support a 6-cent bond issue, but not an operational tax-rate increase.
We urge voters to say "no" to Prop L.