From the Southeast Missourian
Kathy Swan didn’t know it would be this easy.
Tuesday’s filing deadline came and went and the Cape Girardeau City Council member drew no opposition for Missouri’s 147th House District, meaning she will take over the seat being vacated by Rep. Wayne Wallingford next year. Swan said Tuesday she intends to resign her council post at the end of this year.
“You never anticipate that you’re going to run unopposed,” Swan said. “You always plan. Now I have the great opportunity of starting to work on this. I’m going to be doing some homework, doing some research and gathering concerns and issues so I can hit the ground running in January. I’m going to be in job preparation mode.”
Tuesday’s filing deadline also brought other election races into focus, setting up matches across the region that feature a former “America’s Got Talent” winner, a former Jackson football coach and a slew of other political newcomers who hope to claim seats held by incumbents.
And the final tally came in on that unusual county public administrator race at 14, the largest number of candidates for one seat on a single ballot since at least 1996.
The scene was similar across the state, where more than 570 people filed for the U.S. House and Senate, the legislature, circuit judgeships and five statewide offices, including governor. It’s the third-highest number of candidates in the past 18 years.
Missourians interested in running for governor have a few more days to enter the race. The filing period for Missouri’s August primaries ended at 5 p.m. Tuesday for most offices. But officials extended it to 5 p.m. Friday for governor, three state House seats and two state Senate seats — one each from Kansas City and St. Louis. Officials took that step after some candidates withdrew close to the deadline.
Numerous candidates filed Tuesday, but there were no major changes for the year’s top two races — U.S. Senate and Missouri governor.
In local House races, only Rep. Shelley Keeney, R-Marble Hill, joined Swan as having the luxury of avoiding often costly and time-consuming campaigns that come with uncertain outcomes.
Swan will essentially assume the seat currently held by Rep. Wayne Wallingford, a one-term incumbent who is taking a gamble by running for Missouri’s 27th senatorial district. Wallingford is running against Rep. Ellen Brandom, R-Sikeston, who both created open House seats with their decisions.
Swan said she didn’t know if the lack of other candidates meant that most people were pleased with the idea of her taking the job or was more an indicator of apathy.
“Many times with an open seat there is more than one candidate,” she said. “I just feel very blessed I have this opportunity. I’m accepting this opportunity as a blessing and I’m not questioning it.”
Tuesday saw only two new faces in other local House seats. Neal E. Boyd, the opera-singing winner of 2008’s “America’s Got Talent,” officially filed Tuesday for the Sikeston-area 149th seat after announcing he would do so earlier this month. Boyd, a Republican, will face incumbent Rep. Steve Hodges, D-East Prairie.
Another Democrat on Tuesday joined the nearby 148th House race, which also includes a portion of Sikeston. Bart Ziegenhorn, son of former representative and current Scott County Commissioner Dennis Ziegenhorn, filed Tuesday as well, where he will face Mike Marsh in the Aug. 7 Democratic primary. The winner of that contest will square off in the Nov. 6 general election against the winner of the Republican side, either former Sikeston mayor Josh Bill or Holly Rehder, a small-business owner and former campaign staffer for U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson.
Ziegenhorn, 30, says there was no specific reason he filed on the last day. The first-time candidate said there was no strategy behind it.
Ziegenhorn, who sells real estate and insurance, said he’s always been interested in politics and that he was inspired by his father, who served as a state representative for 14 years and the last eight on the Scott County Commission.
“I’ve always grown up following in his ways, and I learned from the best,” Ziegenhorn said. “Everybody’s got a good chance in this race. We’re all newcomers. I’m just going to get out and introduce myself to the public and they can take it from there.”
The filing deadline also firms up the 146th House contest, where Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson, is running against primary challengers Gerald Adams, a Jackson School Board member, and Van Hitt, a former Jackson High School football coach.
A familiar face joined the race for Missouri’s 8th Congressional District, meaning that four challengers are looking to unseat Emerson, who was first elected in 1996. Libertarian Rick Vandeven of Chaffee ran against Emerson two years ago, along with Democrat Tommy Sowers and Independent Larry Bill.
Vandeven said Tuesday he plans to run on a platform of improving the economy through the reduction of the size and scope of the federal government.
“The first piece of legislation that I will introduce is the formation of a committee to review all federal laws and regulations in order to repeal those that are preventing individuals from living peaceably and working,” he said in a prepared release. Also running in the 8th District are Emerson, Democrats Todd Mahn and Jack Rushin and Republican Bob Parker.
At the county level, four Cape Girardeau County officeholders are assured another four-year term, including Sheriff John Jordan, Coroner John Clifton, Treasurer Roger Hudson and 1st District Commissioner Paul Koeper. None of those races drew challengers, and
Koeper and Hudson were congratulated shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday as they exited the Jackson Administration Building.
“Obviously, I’m happy,”
Koeper said. “I hope it means people think we’re doing a good job.”
Three other county seats drew challengers, including the hotly contested public administrator job, in which voters will choose from among 13 Republicans and one Democrat. On Tuesday, Sharon Schuessler was the last to file for the job on the Republican ticket.
Schuessler has worked for the past eight years in the county clerk’s Cape Girardeau office in voter registration. But she also pointed to her 25 years experience running a blacksmith and garage business with her husband. Like many Schuessler said she was surprised to see such interest in the job that requires the office holder to provide care for the county’s roughly 150 incapacitated residents.
Echoing many of the other candidates, Schuessler said: “I have such a passion for people with disabilities and physical challenges. I have a big heart for people with these needs.”
Other races include the county commission’s 2nd District, where incumbent Jay Purcell will try to stave off challengers Charlie Herbst and Moe Sandfort. The county assessor seat saw three newcomers who want to take over for the retiring Jerry Reynolds — Bob Adams, Ron Andrews and Amy Jones.