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FERGUSON, Mo. - In what could be the nastiest primary in the state, some say, it just got even nastier.

More than 400 people packed into the Florissant Valley Community College Student Center Wednesday night to hear from candidates running for St. Louis County executive. Most reacted to comments made by current executive Charlie Dooley and his democratic challenger, County Councilman Steve Stenger.

At first it was all smiles and hugs with the two opponents embracing in a hug. It quickly went sound.

Dooley defending his economic development policy said, "How dare you say nothing is happening in north county."

Stenger shot back saying, "Dare I mention Jamestown Mall? The first thing we need to do is bring economic development to all areas of the county."

There was a lot of back and forth between all the candidates present regarding Charlie Dooley's handling of the embezzlement scandal that rocked the St. Louis County Health Department. The No. 2 man at the health department, Ed Mueth is accused of embezzling more than $3.5 million. Mueth committed suicide as the investigation into him intensified. The FBI ruled Mueth acted alone.

"We had audits every year, and nobody caught it. Even my opponent, who is supposed to be a CPA, supposedly, he didn't catch it," Dooley explained.

"We don't need an audit and spend another 95k to prove you mismanaged county government. What we need it top to bottom audit, of every account, everything," Stenger replied.

Earlier in the day, the Dooley camp released a new and explosive political ad trying to link Stenger to defending sex traffickers. Stenger, joined by former U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan called the ad, despicable, not based in fact and stranger than fiction.

Ronald Levy is also on the Democratic ballot but did not attend the forum. Green Park Alderman Tony Pousosa is facing State Rep. Rick Stream on the Republican side. Both attended as did Constitution Party candidate Joe Passanise.

The primary is three weeks away on August 5.

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