County Executive of St. Charles

Steve Ehlmann © St. Charles County

Steve Ehlmann is the elected County Executive of St. Charles. Earlier he was the county’s Director of Administration. He was a member of the Missouri House of Representatives from 1989 to 1993 for the 19th District and of the Missouri Senate from 1993 to 2001 for the 23th District, serving two terms as the Republican Floor Leader in the Senate. Steve served in the judiciary as Associate Circuit Judge from 2001 to 2003 and as Circuit Judge during 2003 for the 11th Judicial Circuit. Steve authored the book Crossroads, A History of St. Charles County. He is been honored with the Defender of Life Award (Missouri Right to Life), Missouri Sunshine Award (Missouri Press Association), Voice of Missouri Business Award (Associated Industries of Missouri), Heroes Award (Crider Center for Mental Health), the Sibley Medallion (Lindenwood University) and the Jonas Viles Award (Friends of the Missouri State Archives). He also received an honorary doctorate from Lindenwood, which was their first doctoral in education.

Interviewed by Stephen M. Thompson, Ph.D.

Welcome on OpenBeast. Could you briefly introduce yourself?

Not sure how to put it, but I am an intense and diplomatic person.

What are your personal strengths and how did those help you succeed?

That would by my natural conscious listening ability. Just for the fact you listen to someone even though you disagree or don’t vote in favor makes the situation cordial. Of course for some people you cannot help it at all but for most part it works. My other strengths would my knowledge about civil war and history in general; though those might not be relevant in this day and age, it was true 25 years ago when I got in. Also I had a good group of friends even before I entered politics and that really helped. I mad some good friends in politics.

When were you most satisfied in your current job and why?

Recentely when we got the money put together for the second phase of the Page Extension on Route 364. Then on the same day we also got approval for the Weldon Spring Missouri River Bridge for eastbound Route 40/61 (I64) traffic and the Mid Rivers Mall and 170 intersection expansion.

You have been critical of smoking bans. What’s the current status of St. Charles smoking ban?

I had been critical of smoking bans that creates unreasonable exemptions. My veto message is available on-line. Smoking ban is fine but doing it under the power of county’s health regulations… how could you have exemptions? It’s like saying every kid has to be vaccinated unless you have red hair. There is no relationship there. If smoking is bad for employees why do you exempt employees from ban?

What one project or reform you would consider as the best so far in your career?

I liked it when the economy was doing well back in 98 and still we accomplished tax cuts. I was the floor leader representing the Republic party which was a minority then. Normally as a minority you don’t have big reforms or projects; one would typically kill bills or improve bad bills. We put pressure and convinced the majority to cut taxes.

Have you experienced any failure, and if so what did you learn from it?

Yes and plenty. Every time I experience failure it’s opened the door for something better. I went to collage with basketball scholarship but that didn’t work, so I got more dedicated to my studies. I was a high school basketball coach, at the age of 27. Close to 40 years built a good team but then three players got hurt and lost the head coach. Had two different jobs before that and totally enjoyed. I love teaching but lost my job due to cut backs. However, if not for that I wouldn’t have gone to law school, wouldn’t have served the general assembly, wouldn’t have been the head coach, wouldn’t have been here and you wouldn’t be interviewing me. Maybe I would have retired and playing golf now!

What are your upcoming projects or initiatives or plans?

Had been working on the St. Louis China hub project for the last three years.

Talk to us about your book “Crossroads”.

It’s the history of St. Charles country. End of this year we will be releasing the second edition.

What’s your though on global warming?

Looks like it’s occurring but seem to be no evidence that it’s man made. There is no data on how long it will last or if it’s unique or just the change in the weather naturally. But then I cannot make much difference about global warming. I am a voter too and I do have opinions on all broad issues.

Any advice, particularly to our young readers, who would like to serve public or elected offices?

I encourage young people to get into teaching and I also want to encourage on planning about what they are going to do next. Then again I want to warn that teaching is not for everybody. Teaching can be an exhausting and frustrating job. Compensation is not that good and it’s not like if you work harder and you can make more. Both teaching and public office you need to be dedicated and got to have the passion to do something for the society. Most of the public office is not baaed on merits, so one needs to be prepared.

Thank you so much for your time.

To learn more about County Executive Steve Ehlmann and St. Charles County visit