Backers of a St. Louis city-county merger make their case, but not without critics

Supporters of unifying St. Louis and St. Louis County made their case Tuesday night for the economic and social benefits they say a merger could bring.

In a panel discussion moderated by state Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, at Frontenac City Hall, two representatives of the pro-merger group Better Together, Marius Johnson-Malone and Jeff Rainford, offered their views on how the union might increase the region’s population and expand job growth.

They were joined on the panel by E. Terrence Jones, a professor emeritus in the political science department at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Pat Kelly, executive director of the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis.

St. Louis city and county, which consists of 90 municipalities, split in what is known as “The Great Divorce” in 1876. There have been efforts to undo the split since, with Better Together formed in 2013 to look at the issue.

Rainford said that because of its many factions, the St. Louis region is “losing the competition for talent” to other cities, where he said better quality of life, jobs and transportation are attracting young people. He said Better Together does not yet have a proposal for reunification but is gathering information for one.

Merger opponents say they worry that the county’s bond rating could drop and its crime statistics rise if it reunited with the city.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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