Wrighton said the effort needs to better educate the public on the shortcomings of the region, the fragmentation of governments and the need for reform.
“I think we need more dialogue about what is actually being proposed. I think there are misunderstandings,” Wrighton said. “Is this a defeat? By no means. We have more work ahead.”
Municipal officials, on the other hand, called for a reevaluation of the region’s ailments — they argued that fragmentation isn’t one of them — a rethinking of solutions to those problems, and a refocus on a public process people can support.
“If there’s one benefit, it’s that they’ve made people talk,” said Pat Kelly, executive director of the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis, of Better Together. “We’ve never said everything is flowers and roses in St. Louis city and county.”
Kelly and other municipal officials said on Tuesday they would continue efforts toward a public examination of the region’s governmental structure. If the league can gather about 20,000 voter signatures, it would force St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page to appoint a special board, called a Board of Freeholders, authorized by the Missouri Constitution to reorganize governments.
Kelly said they have about 11,000 signatures in the county and 6,500 in the city, but they need several thousand more to cover disqualifications.