Back in the dark days, when then-County Executive Steve Stenger was secretly scheming behind the County Council’s back, abusing taxpayers’ trust and working out illegal pay-to-play deals, one Republican, 6th District council member Ernie Trakas, recognized the urgency of fighting back. The only way to make that happen was to bury partisan differences and team up with Democrats to ensure the council put as many brakes as possible on Stenger’s actions.
Why we make candidate recommendations
Our interest in making candidate recommendations is not to promote one party over another. Our sole goal is to advise voters on which candidates are best suited for the job.
Trakas, 70, paid a heavy political price for daring to challenge Stenger. He was targeted for investigation by Stenger’s ally, prosecutor Bob McCulloch, and subjected to a mysterious recall petition heavily laden with Stenger’s fingerprints. There was no question that Stenger wanted Trakas eliminated as an impediment to his grander design to amass power and continue raking in illegally obtained campaign wealth. Today, Stenger is in prison, and Trakas remains in office, still fighting the good fight. And the District 6 council seat is exactly where voters should keep him on Nov. 3.
One thing we admire about Trakas that we wish all politicians of all political affiliations would learn: Fighting for constituents’ interests isn’t a Republican thing or a Democrat thing. If taking the proper stand requires bucking partisan conventions and aligning with the other side, Trakas is a living example of the benefits such flexibility brings to county taxpayers.
Trakas is challenged on the Nov. 3 ballot by term-limited state Rep. Bob Burns, 72, a Democrat. There are several problems we have with Burns’ candidacy, but the major sticking point that voters must never forget is how he provided legitimacy to the racist radio commentary of Belleville-based broadcaster Bob Romanik.
The Federal Communications Commission has yanked Romanik from the airwaves, but Burns was an unapologetic, staunch on-air defender when it came to financial help Romanik provided to veterans’ causes. What Burns failed repeatedly to note was that his on-air commentary was always sandwiched between N-word-laced, racist rants by Romanik. And when a Democratic Missouri state representative called in to praise Romanik, the effect was to make Romanik look like a hero instead of a white supremacist.
His egregious judgment error prompted the House Democratic caucus in 2018 to expel him for what Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, said was Burns’ “frequent on-air praise for a St. Louis-area radio show host known for racist, homophobic and misogynistic rants.”
Burns was evasive with the editorial board about whether he regretted going on the show. He hedged when asked if he believed Romanik is a racist.
These are serious questions of judgment. When Trakas saw something wrong, he took action to set things right despite great personal risk. Burns enabled a racist rather than stand up to him. District 6 voters should look beyond party alignment and vote for the candidate who recognized the clear distinction between right and wrong.