Businessman Mark Mantovani — a Democrat challenging St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger — joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies for the latest episode of Politically Speaking.
A graduate of St. Louis University High School, Mantovani grew up in the region and is a former lawyer making his first bid for public office. He is arguably the best-known and best-financed of all of Stenger’s potential opponents for the job overseeing the state’s largest county and its 1 million residents.
Even though the Democratic primary isn’t until August, Mantovani and Stenger already are flooding the region’s TV airwaves with campaign commercials attacking each other.
Mantovani has donated $1 million of his own money to his campaign, and says he’s willing to put in more in order to communicate his message.
Mantovani denies Stenger’s claims that he’s really a Republican, and says he and his wife are committed Democrats.
A centerpiece of Mantovani’s campaign is his accusation that Stenger has been making inappropriate sweetheart deals with donors.
Among Mantovani’s other observations during the podcast:
- Mantovani says his lack of elective experience doesn’t make him less prepared for the top job. He would be the first leader of St. Louis County in decades to not have first been elected to another post. “And I would argue that the fact that somebody has been ingrained in this system and doesn’t realize that there are other ways of doing things or other approaches or another world out there is inhibiting the growth of this community,” he said.
- He said one of the reasons he jumped into the race is fear that the St. Louis region is losing ground. Mantovani cited the region’s sluggish growth over the past few decades.
- Mantovani has misgivings about a proposed sales tax increase for the St. Louis Zoo, which currently is barred from charging admission. He questioned whether tax money should go to a planned north St. Louis County animal breeding facility. Mantovani said he’s not sure that funding the project should be the sole responsibility of city and county taxpayers.
- He said that the fact he’s poured about $1 million of his own money into the race should be seen as a sign of his strong commitment. “This is a reflection of my commitment to help this community,” he said. “And I could do lots of other stuff with that money. And the fact that I’m willing to invest to make this a better place I think ought to be positive.”
Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum
Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies
Follow Mark Mantovani on Twitter: @MarkForSTL
Music: “Language City” by Wolf Parade