Dr. Sam Page, who was appointed interim St. Louis County executive by his colleagues on the County Council last April, was approved by county voters in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, August 4.
Page won confidently with 38.1% of the vote (70,500 votes). Mark Mantovani, in his second failed bid for the office, came in second with 29.6% (54,858 votes). Jake Zimmerman, who keeps his seat as county assessor, came in third with 24.5% (45,326 votes). A first-time candidate, Jamie Tolliver, won 14,418 votes (7.8%).
In unofficial results, 252,567 people voted in the county, a turnout of 39.26%.
Page was elected to serve the rest of Steve Stenger’s term, which expires at the end of 2022. Stenger, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges, spent election night at the Federal Prison Camp in Yankton, South Dakota.
It was a brutal primary campaign. Mantovani, whose campaign was managed by Patrick Lynn – who helped to elect Stenger working with the Kelley Group – tried to capitalize on accusations of racial discrimination levied against Page by St. Louis Police Lt. Col. Troy Doyle. Doyle claimed that Page influenced the police board to pass him over for police chief because Doyle is Black due to pressure from Page’s campaign donors. Page said he preferred Doyle for chief but the police board, whose members he appoints, is independent.
County Counselor Beth Ordwick countered by saying that Doyle’s attorney Jerome Dobson tried to extort a $3.5 million settlement for Doyle by offering to withhold the discrimination claim if Page settled before the primary. Dobson did make that offer in a voice mail to Page’s chief of staff.
Councilman Ernie Trakas, who worked closely with Page when Stenger was county executive, released documents he claimed were damaging to Mantovani the same day that Doyle’s news broke, on July 24. The documents showed that two Stenger consultants also working to elect Mantovani were present at a 2018 meeting where documents allegedly were falsified concerning a lucrative lease between the county and Stenger’s largest campaign contributors.
Both the extortion claim and the new evidence about the Stenger-era lease have been referred to federal prosecutors – the same ones who put in prison Stenger, whose term Page will complete.
Page put all of that behind him in his election night remarks.
“For my part, I can say that the campaign battles are all finished and the punches thrown, forgotten,” he said. “All differences are put aside so that we can work together through a pandemic and an economic recovery, leaving no one behind.”
Other than the pandemic and economic recovery, he focused on the need to address issues of race and equity.
“St. Louis cannot be healthy, cannot grow, cannot be safe, until we address race,” Page said, “until there are enough good schools, good housing, good jobs, good healthcare, good transportation, good childcare, good retirements, for everyone, regardless of in what part of the county you live.”
Page will have competition in the November general election. However, he got more votes in the Democratic primary than the winner of the Republican primary (Paul Berry III) while getting less than 40% of the Democratic votes cast.