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Who is Jane Dueker?

Dueker a Democrat running in the primary for St. Louis County Executive.

ST. LOUIS — Jane Dueker is running in the Democratic primary for St. Louis County Executive. The primary is August 2. The general election is in November.

Dueker, a government attorney by trade, started her legal career as an Assistant Attorney General and later advised Governor Bob Holden as his Chief Legal Counsel and chief of staff. 

KNOW TO VOTE: Missouri primary 2022: Voter guide for St. Louis area

More recently, she’s taken stints with corporate law firms and lobbied state lawmakers on behalf of police unions. Dueker has taken a scorched earth approach on the campaign trail, challenging every aspect of Sam Page’s administration, including his personal character, leadership, and effectiveness. 

Her Twitter handle says, “I am not Sam Page,” and her campaign strategy has followed that same template, portraying herself as the anti-Page candidate on the ballot.

5 On Your Side candidate survey

What immediate steps would you take to improve public safety and reduce violent crime? 

Dueker: Well, first of all, violent crime has doubled in Saint Louis County in the last ten years. And everywhere I go in this county, north, south, west, central citizens business is the number one issue on voters minds is crime. So that's good that you're leading off of that. First of all, I would have been endorsed by the 7000 police officers across the state of Missouri and because of my unique expertise in policing and crime issues. And first of all, I would restore the promise of Prop P in 2017.

The voters passed Prop P overwhelmingly in order to fund police needs and to fund public safety. Promises were made that, one, there would be two officers to a car and high crime areas. That has not occurred. That's for the safety of the community. That's for the safety of the officer. We have to get we have we're going to have probably 100 vacancies in the police department by the end of the year. We have to get fully staffed because we have to get back to community policing because that was another promise we made the voters is that we would have more community policing. And you do that. 

You have to establish that relationship between law enforcement and the communities that they serve. And we promise that and we have not delivered. We promised to build new substations in North County and South County. They have not even broken ground on those fundamental. You need the substations located where the citizens are. They need proper, you know, everything from Internet to to work with bodycams. They need the actual resources to do their job every day. And now they're going to be twice as expensive to build because they haven't been done in five years. So one, restore know Prop P, clearly community policing. Our members were surveyed and the overwhelming majority of the St. Louis County police officers were not aware of what the crime plan is. You can't have the people carrying out the plan, not knowing the plan. So we need more transparency with the police board. They are the ones that develop and implement the crime plan. I will be strongly advocating for a community based crime plan, which is the community needs to have input. The officers need to have input. Everybody needs to have input to start tackling crime now. One of the most important things that we can do is we have to inform the public of the truth about the crime problem by ordinance. The county executive is required to put crime stats on the web. Since Sam Paige has been appointed, he has not put the crime stats up. And I believe that it is wrong to not inform the people of the actual crime problems they are facing. And I think he's gaslighting the public when he tells people that there's not a crime planned right now, a crime problem right now. There's a severe crime problem right now and voters know it. So those are some of the initial things. Chief Search Chief Gregory has served the county well for decades. He never even applied to be the chief. We need to do a chief search. We need to fill the spot on the police board that is now vacant and has been vacant. There's been a lot of turnover on the police board since county executive Sam took over. And so we have to fill that. And there has to be on the police board, there has to be someone with law enforcement background so that they can properly administer. We have the purest, most powerful civilian review board. Our civilian police board does all policies, all discipline, firings. They they decide all policies and they do discipline. They do everything and that they have subpoena power. They have all the things that people talk about that they want for a civilian review board. But you have to fill the board and they have to be more transparent. The good things, the troubling things the community needs to feel that the police board is, you know, in bed with the community. And so we need to do that. So those are some of the things that I would do. Another important factor is, look, policing is a regional issue. And the problem is there are certain parts city of St. Louis who are not policing. They're not policing, they're not prosecuting. That strains all departments in all other counties. And that is a problem. And we need to have the tough conversation that crime is a regional problem that has to be addressed regionally and that it's not going to be an easy conversation, but it's a conversation that has to take place. And I believe the surrounding county executives agree on that issue, that it has to be a regional issue.

What is the single greatest area in St. Louis County government that requires public investment? How would you make sure that it happens?

Dueker: Well, I think there's a couple of areas. We do have health care disparities that were exposed by the pandemic and chair days. Councilwoman Shalonda Webb proposed a wellness center that will start giving, delivering some more direct wraparound services in North County with a specific focus on co-morbidities. Because co-morbidities seem to have, as we've learned through the pandemic, have been some of the leading factors in determining hospitalizations and unfortunately, deaths. And so chronic conditions, heart, diabetes, things like that. Working with underserved communities, kind of tackling those co-morbidity issues. Can start trying to get through the health disparity gap that we saw exposed by COVID. Another issue, we have the Children's Services Fund in St Louis County residents, very generous people who decided to have a separate tax in order to fund the Children's Services Fund. And it's a phenomenal thing. Right now, there's about $70 million in that fund. We have a mental health crisis with our kids, and we need to tackle that. We need to help with that. We need to partner. We need to devote resources to it. And it needs to be a priority with our kids. And it's a well-run generally. It's run by a separate board, and it's a well-run agency. But I would like to advocate that we move mental health up the food chain to deal with what our kids have gone through for the last two years. 

How do you explain the recent corruption investigations in local government? What safeguards would you implement to improve public trust?

Dueker: The problem with the corruption and the scandals as they were at the top leadership is the problem. So the chief of staff that was he was handpicked by Sam Page. Nothing in his biography, nothing in his work background indicated that he was ready for this job. So that was a red flag. Sam Page is the one that hired Mark Tucker as the auditor, a man with no experience and in four years never performed a single audit. In fact, the state auditor found that the lack of oversight by the council and the auditor that was picked by Sam Page enabled Steve Stenger to commit his crimes. That is, leadership at the top. And appointing Rochelle Walton Gray, a former council woman, to be the vaccine coordinator when she had zero experience. That is a problem. Tony Weaver, the man who was indicted for a kickback scheme involving small business relief funds right out of county government. That was a hand-picked political crony of Sam Page. He worked on his campaign. It was part of his political operation. And he got a $40,000 raise to go work at the jail when he had zero experience. This is not mid-level bureaucrats doing things. This was corruption and scandal at the top. He is responsible for that. So you I don't know that we need more legislation. We need better leaders. And, you know, I've worked in government 30 years and I was a chief of staff. And the kind of conduct that we're seeing going on in county government is unacceptable. And frankly, it's tarnishing the reputation of our county. So on this one, all of those examples, the worst examples we've seen in county government, those were all from the top sexual harassment lawsuits being settled of, you know, of of councilman, you know, discrimination at the top of the police department. These are all at the top levels. That's leadership. And I believe in leadership by empowerment. I believe you empower the people who work with you and for you, you empower citizens, interest groups, the business. Sam, his his view of leadership is control. And we're seeing the vestiges of that kind of negative leadership in our county.

What immediate steps would you take to reduce the cost-of-living burden St. Louis County voters face during this period of inflation?

Dueker: I mean, it's really difficult because I don't have control over gas prices. I don't think I even have the ability to control, you know, food prices and whatnot. The most important thing we can do as a county is one is make everybody safe. But two, we have to restore the economy in St. Louis County. That was shut down. And and I think that overhauling the partnership and making Saint Louis County open for business again, I don't know if you've ever been to county government, the actual building where he's shut down the building to county residents, you have to go through a funnel and go through a maze and then I call it the rat maze. And then you have to go to the rat chairs in order to get your normal business done that that can't happen anymore. We have to let small businesses be able to function and they need to be able to get to the county people, people who are building, they need to be able to get permits in a timely fashion. We need to make it not harder for people to to live their lives, you know, to get their tax receipts, to do the everyday business. That is very frustrating to voters when they can't do normal business. So, one, we need to get the economy moving again. And frankly, I can sell St. Louis County, and I don't think Sam Page is capable of doing that. We need to develop new industries. We need to do a ton of workforce development. It's not just a matter of training people, but you have to train them and match them for the jobs that are the jobs of the future. And we need to work on that. We can partner with the state in doing that. So jumpstarting the economy is the best thing we can do and matching people who need jobs with the labor shortage, people who need workers.

To the extent that St. Louis County government can improve access to affordable health care, what practical steps would you take to improve access to health care?

Dueker: Well, I talked a little bit about the wellness center and the wraparound services that I'm supporting with Chair Days and Councilwoman Webb in North County. And co-morbidities and unique issues that are plaguing that community. Again, the Children's Services Fund is one that can certainly fill the gaps in any kind of children's health care needs that are out there. I think mental health is the one issue that needs to start being prioritized both by kids and adults, and I think we can do some of that. So we are fortunate in St. Louis, we have one of the health care's best health care systems in the country. And, you know, during the pandemic, those those resources were strained. They were strained because everybody from all over Missouri came to our health care system, in part. And so we're fortunate to have so we have far less barriers than many other areas in the country. And so I am grateful. And even in Missouri, there are rural areas in Missouri that don't have the access to health care that we have here. And so I think there are things we can do with existing resources in order to do that. And the resources that have been devoted to COVID can now be redirected toward some of the other health care and health needs that we have in the county.

What is your favorite movie, most influential book, and go-to genre of music?

Dueker: Favorite movie is tough because I'm a movie fanatic, so let's see, favorite movie of all time. I mean, Godfather is up there just because I just watched the offer that show. So that has brought The Godfather back to me and just living color. Let's see what other movies I mean, that's so hard to choose to see. Well, Godfather has to be up there, some of the best movies of all time. This is too hard. And I just saw Elvis. And I will tell you this. Elvis was a great movie and I'm an Elvis fanatic. I've read every biography. I've done the pilgrimage down to Memphis numerous times and recently even. So, that will tell people that a little bit about me, that I am an Elvis fanatic. I love reading about his life. I mean, he was the first real rock star and nobody had there was no playbook on how to be a rock star. And he was the first. And unfortunately, the system sort of chewed him up and spit him out. And so in some ways, it's tragic, but he was amazing. And so I am definitely an Elvis fanatic and have bizarre memorabilia all over my house. The most interesting book, Truman Truman is my favorite book and by McCullough, and I've read it twice. It's a 900 page book and I've read it twice because I thought Truman was our best president and the reason he was the best president. It's easy. It's difficult to be simple. It's difficult to make. He made some of the most difficult decisions in the history of our country deciding whether to drop the bomb. I mean, but this man took very difficult issues, never lost his values, never lost, he was always too clear sighted in what was right. And he was able to take very difficult, horrible shutting down industries. And he did courageous things, integrating the military. And but he always was able to keep things simple. And he went into the presidency with nothing and came out with a sign. And he asked the government if he could have even if he could keep the sign that says the buck stops here. And I think that's fascinating. He adored his wife. He adored his daughter. He played poker. He hung out with Supreme Court justices and the speaker of the House and the president of the Senate. And, you know, they worked together and he was underestimated his entire life, not just when he was president, but he was he was the always the underdog. And so and he's Missouri's own. So. Truman. So that is my favorite book. 

Yeah, well, Elvis is the best. So yeah, he's number one. But I'm very eclectic in my music tastes. So one that's kind of unique. I love show tunes I loved I was in musicals when I was in high school. And so I do love show tunes and I love the theater, so I love Hamilton. I was the lead in West Side Story in high school at CBC High School. I also was the lead in Bye Bye Birdie at my own high school. So I love the tunes and the show tunes so that's dorky but Elvis and show tunes.

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