Missouri’s Constitution has a process in place to somehow combine the city and county through a local vote. While there are several specific possibilities listed, it allows the creation of a group known as the Board of Freeholders to “formulate and adopt any other plan for the partial or complete government of all or any part of the city and the county.” There’s no guarantee, however, that the board will put forward the exact plan Better Together wants up for a vote — or if it can even handle all aspects of Better Together’s proposal. And efforts to merge the city and county through a local vote have failed over the past few decades.
A statewide vote broaches the possibility of city and county voters rejecting a merger plan — but it still going into effect if people in other parts of the state vote for it by a big enough margin. When they helped launch the Better Together process in 2013, then-Mayor Francis Slay and then-St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley stressed that any proposal needed to be locally decided.
Asked about that scenario of a merger happening against city and county voters’ wishes, Krewson said, “I think that’s a legitimate question.”
“The way that St. Louis gained control over its police department was a statewide vote,” Krewson said. “We live under the constitution of the state. So it’s not terribly unusual. The way we got home rule was through a statewide vote. So these things often have to be amended at the state level if we want to have an entirely new type of city-county.”
Stenger added, “I think we really need to see what the plan is and what the reaction to be of our residents.”