Rodney C. Zerr, the former St. Charles County Emergency Management Officer, has filed for the St. Charles County Executive race. Zerr has always had a passion for community service especially in public safety roles and has been a public servant for over 33 years. He has a background in broadcast journalism, radio production, emergency communication, public safety coordination and emergency management. His hobbies and interests include amateur radio, cat fishing and raising German Shepherd Dogs.
Interview by Stephen Thompson, Ph.D.
Welcome to OpenBeast. Tell us about yourself.
I am 61 years old and am a fourth generation resident of St. Charles County. I graduated from Chaminade College Prep in St. Louis, in 1971 and Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, MO, in 1974. I also attended the University Of Missouri School Of Journalism, majoring in Broadcast Journalism. I am married and have 4 grown children and 4 grandchildren.
I spent 32 years in public safety work, of which 21 1/2 years was with St. Charles County Government, where I served as a Deputy Sheriff, Communications and Warning Officer, Division Director of Emergency Management, and Director of Emergency Management. As Emergency Management Director, I was also Administrator of the St. Charles County 9-1-1 System.
I enjoy my hobbies of amateur radio, amateur photography and spending time with our German shepherd dog, Aiko. I also serve on the Board of Directors of the St. Charles Amateur Radio Club. .
Talk to us about your County Executive office race and what inspired you.
I was inspired to run for St. Charles County Executive after observing that the County Executive’s office has been occupied by “career politicians” for the past 20 years. Each of these politicians has served or is attempting to serve three 4 year terms in office. Doug Funderburk, the Republican challenger, has served ten years on the St. Charles County Council, then eight years as a State Representative. As a newcomer to politics, I am running for County Executive to offer the St. Charles County voters an alternative.
As a longtime dedicated public servant, I believe that I have all of the necessary credentials to effective serve the residents of St. Charles County. I am familiar with most of the current issues facing the county, and believe that I can lend a unique vision based on my extensive knowledge of governmental operations.
So what are the significant issues you plan to address from a long term perspective
Some of the issues that I would like to address include:
* A massive centralization of power in the County Executive’s Office resulting from the recent passage of three Charter Amendments each of which vest additional powers in the Office of County Executive.
* With the passage of a Charter Amendment creating a separate new police department, St. Charles County residents have lost their ability to vote for their chief law enforcement officer. That position will now be appointed by the County Executive.
* For too many years, key decision making in the County Executive’s Office has been made behind closed doors. If elected, I propose establishing a hotline to the County Executive’s Office where residents canfield complaints, concerns, or offer suggestions. I further propose holding town meetings on a quarterly basis, where residents can meet the County Executive and selected staff members to discuss current issues in St. Charles County Government.
* Term Limits – Our incumbent County Executives have grown accustomed to making the County Executive’s position a career position. If elected, I propose imposing term limits on the position of County Executive, through a Charter Amendment. I propose that the elected position of County Executive be limited to two four year terms for the life of the office holder. The residents of St. Charles County need new vision in the office of their chief elected official. This can only happen if there is a regular transition of personnel in the County Executive’s Office.
What would you consider as your one best achievement thus far?
A few of my best achievements during my 32 year career in local government include:
* Establishing the first centralized Fire & EMS dispatching system in St. Charles County back in 1991.
* Establishing the first countywide Outdoor Warning Siren network, consisting of 72 county owned sirens, plus integrating an additional 62 municipally owned sirens, for a total of 134 outdoor warning sirens. This is the second largest outdoor warning system in the State of Missouri. This system was instrumental in saving lives during the May 2013 tornado outbreak in St. Charles County.
* Establishing the first networked countywide VoIP 9-1-1 system in the State of Missouri in 2005. This system included the ability to determine the location of wireless callers, (Phase 2 wireless technology).
What’s your opinion on “Open Door Policy” for any elected office?
I am a strong advocate of open door policies in elective offices. Our citizens should have a voice in virtually every decision made by their government. This can only be effectively accomplished through an open door policy, whereby our residents have direct access to elected officials, and specifically, the County Executive’s Office. This is not the case with our current County Executive.
Any upcoming election events you would like to mention.
The major events that our voters need to be aware of are the upcoming elections. The primary election is on Tuesday, August 5th, from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The all-important general election is Tuesday, November 4th, from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. I will be holding regularly scheduled rallies and fundraisers as we progress closer to the elections. For up to the minute information on campaign activities, go to our website at www.electrodzerr.com or our campaign Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/electrodzerr
How can our readers reach you or your campaign office?
Readers can reach our campaign officials through our website or by calling 314-302-9456.
What are your leisure time activities?
Out leisure time, that which remains after days of active campaigning consists of watching our favorite shows on streaming video or enjoying a burger and soft drinks at our favorite grill and pub.