Many Cole County incumbents ready for re-election bids

Only two of the 10 incumbents for Cole County’s seven offices and three judgeships said last week they’re not running again — and they both have been saying it for several years.

Filing for county and state offices begins at 8 a.m. Tuesday — with county officials filing in the county clerk’s office on the second floor of the Courthouse Annex, 311 E. High St. in Jefferson City.

Candidates for the Legislature and for circuit judges’ seats in outstate Missouri will file at the secretary of state’s office on the third floor of the Kirkpatrick State Information Center, 600 W. Main St.

Candidate filing remains open through 5 p.m. March 25.

In Cole County, Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger and County Clerk Marvin Register — both Republicans — have said numerous times they’re not running for another term.

A year ago, Jefferson City businessman Sam Bushman, a Republican, announced his intention to seek Ellinger’s job.

Other county offices to be filled in the Aug. 5 primary and Nov. 4 general elections are auditor, collector, circuit clerk, prosecuting attorney and recorder of deeds.

Also on this year’s ballots are two circuit judge seats for six-year terms — now held by Patricia Joyce and Daniel Green — and associate circuit judge, a four-year term.

Although part of the state courts system, the Missouri Constitution requires “at least one resident associate circuit judge in each county … (to) be elected in the county in which they are to serve.”

So the associate circuit judge files for election with the county clerk — and incumbent Thomas L. Sodergren said: “I will be filing. I am currently in my 20th year as judge of Division 3, our circuit’s associate division.”

But circuit judges Joyce and Green must file for re-election with the secretary of state’s office. Both have said they’ll seek another term.

Green acknowledged some voters might be confused, since he was elected only four years ago.

But that was a special election in 2010, to fill the final four years of former Judge Richard Callahan’s six-year term, after Callahan resigned to become the U.S. Attorney for Eastern Missouri, based in St. Louis.

• Dawnel Davidson, Cole County’s incumbent circuit clerk, won the job in November 2012 to complete the last two years of Brenda Umstattd’s term, after Umstattd resigned in April 2012. Davidson said she will file for a full, four-year term.

• Current Auditor Jim LePage and Prosecutor Mark Richardson have not said, yet, whether they will seek re-election.

No one else has made a formal announcement of plans to seek the prosecutor’s job.

LePage is a Democrat.

His chief deputy since May 2005, Kristen Berhorst, said last week she would file as a Republican candidate for the post.

“During the past nine years as Chief Deputy Auditor, the county leadership has placed a priority on making sure that the county remains financially strong, regardless of the economy,” Berhorst said in a news release. “With the cooperation of all of the departments and elected officials, that goal has been achieved.

“It will be my mission as your County Auditor to continue to ensure that Cole County remains financially sound so that we can continue to provide the best possible services to county residents.”

Berhorst is a 1998 Helias Catholic High School graduate. She graduated from Lincoln University in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree, then added an LU bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2005.

A lifelong Jefferson City resident, she is a member of Immaculate Conception Church. She and her husband, Andy Berhorst, have two daughters.

• Incumbent collector Larry Vincent, a Republican, says he will seek another term.

“Over the last six years, Larry Vincent has been working hard to make improvements to his office as your County Collector, improving efficiencies and customer service in the office,” a news release said. “Larry has reduced Collector’s Office expenses annually for the last four years.

“During Larry’s tenure, the Collector’s website and online payment system was established as well as the ability to pay by credit card at the collector’s office.”

He noted the addition of a quarterly payment plan for real estate taxes, and said “online tax information searches were made available.”

The county is updating computer equipment and changing programs.

Vincent said one reason for seeking re-election is “to see that the conversion of information and implementation of that (new) system operates with the efficiency and reliability that Cole County taxing entities and taxpayers deserve.”

• Recorder of Deeds Larry Rademan, a Democrat, said last week he’s running for a fifth four-year term.

“I have been the Cole County Recorder of Deeds for 19 years,” he said. “I appreciate and thank the voters of Cole County for letting me serve them as elected Recorder of Deeds for Cole County — Jefferson City.”

Jefferson City Councilman Ralph Bray, who retired from state government in January, announced last week he plans to challenge Rademan in November’s election.

• Marvin Register said four years ago this would be his last term, and he’s not changed his mind.

“I plan to retire and do some traveling with my wife, play a little golf and do some fishing,” he said.

He said he’s proud of a few accomplishments in office, including: “Moving all the polling out of the schools in Jefferson City except for one, and I’m still working on that, and may have a place for that soon.”

He also listed replacing all the punch card machines with Optical Scan Voting, and replacing old write-in poll books with new Electronic Poll books.

“We will be replacing the old Blue and Yellow Voter Registration Card with a new, updated card to be mailed out after the April Election,” he said. “And I have the same staff I started with.

“Without them, the new County Clerk will be lost.”

• Ellinger, an attorney and CPA, also has no plans to change his mind about leaving the presiding commissioner’s post.

“When I first ran for Presiding Commissioner in 2006, I ran to address long-standing issues that had been pushed aside over the years,” he recalled. “I made it well known that four years simply weren’t enough to address all the issues.

“Conversely, if I couldn’t fix them in eight years, I was the wrong person for the job — and if I was able to address the issues, then I should leave and go back to my family and career.”

Ellinger thinks he and the four people he’s worked with as associate commissioners since 2007 have solved a number of problems.

“In 2006, we had an operating deficit, a decrepit and failing jail, an ambulance service in jeopardy and we had lost our focus on economic development,” he said. “We have fixed the deficit, raised a reserve balance and are in a position to make long term repairs and investments in the future using those reserves.

“We have a jail that is built not just for the present but for the future — and it came in under budget.

“We have assumed the ambulance service and now have a modernized fleet, with the best staff in the area, and are able to extend service beyond what used to exist.”

On the economic front, Ellinger said, “(We) have weathered the recession and grown private sector jobs.

“We have seen expansions at a number of local plants, growth in the technology sector and just last year a new manufacturer coming to our community.”

Bob Watson of the News Tribune staff contributed information used in this story.

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