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Mississippi County: Coffer beats Rolwing for county assessor

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Voters approve a full-time prosecutor

CHARLESTON -- A deputy assessor will replace her boss and prosecuting attorney will officially become a full-time job in Mississippi County.

County Clerk Junior DeLay described the 63 percent turnout in his county as "the best we've had since Ronald Reagan ran."

In the only contested county race, Mississippi County voters picked Democrat Shirley J. Coffer over Republican Timothy J. Rolwing 3,518-1,692.

Coffer, who is currently a deputy assessor for Assessor W.R. "Bill" Thompson, won in every precinct. Thompson did not file to run for another term.

Totals in the assessor's race by precinct were: Anniston, 92-30; Bertrand, 360-244; Charleston north, 584-371; Charleston south, 554-195; Charleston rural, 158-99; East Prairie city, 698-252; East Prairie rural, 726-291; Wyatt/Wilson City, 139-95; absentee, 207-115.

In the only local issue the ballot, just over 70 percent of voters supported the decision to make the county prosecutor a full-time position by casting 3,551 yes votes and 1,505 votes against the change.

"I think it's good that it passed. Traditionally the prosecutor position here has been used as a stepping stone to either a judge or another higher office, but the position is just too crucial to the criminal justice system to be used as a stepping stone," said Darren Cann, the county's current prosecuting attorney. "Mississippi County is the last county in the Bootheel to have a part-time prosecutor."

Cann said the increase in salary and other associated benefits "will ensure that whoever serves as the prosecuting attorney will be there long term which will add stability to the office."

Over the last dozen years, Cann said, turnover in the office has been frequent. "It's pretty much been a revolving door," he said.

The four-year term that will be voted on two years from now and will begin in January 2011 be the first as a full-time office. Cann said he plans to run for another term then. Even if the office remained a part-time position, "I still would have ran," he said.

Having defeated incumbent Homer Oliver in the primary election, Democrat Robert M. Jackson received 2,342 votes in his unopposed race for first district county commissioner.

Democrat Steve Jones, who was unopposed in his bid for second district county commissioner, got 2,180 votes.

Incumbent Keith Moore, a Democrat and also unopposed on the ballot, received 4,398 votes for another four years as sheriff.

Also appearing on the ballot without opposition were Democrat incumbents Terry A. Parker for coroner with 4,651 votes and Richard T. "Rick" Reed Jr. with 4,488 votes for public administrator.

Martin Lucas, who formerly served as second district county commissioner but did not seek another term, brought in 4,401 votes in an unopposed race for the county surveyor office.

Mississippi County voters picked Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin with 3,034 votes over Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden with 2,247 in the presidential race.

Also receiving votes for president and vice president were Libertarians Bob Barr and Wayne A. Root, 25; Constitution Party candidates Chuck Baldwin and Darrell Castle, 11; and Independents Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez, 39.

The county's voters also preferred the Republican candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, casting 2,659 votes for Kenny Hulshof and 2,908 votes for Peter Kinder while the Democrat's gubernatorial candidate, Jeremiah W. "Jay" Nixon, got 2,523 votes and candidate for lieutenant governor, Sam Page, got 2,139 votes.

Also in the race for governor was Libertarian Andrew W. Finkenstadt, 35 votes; and Constitutionalist Gregory E. Thompson, 72.

Appearing on the ballot for lieutenant governor for the Libertarians was Teddy Fleck with 64 votes; and Constitutionalist James C. Rensing, 60.

Republican Jo Ann Emerson was again supported by the county in her race for another term as U.S. representative for the 8th District. She brought in 66 percent of the vote with 3,461 to Democrat challenger Joe Allen's 1,661. Also in this race were Libertarian Branden C. McCullough, 74 votes; and Constitutionalist Richard L. Smith, 39.

Republican State Sen. Jason Glennon Crowell's race for another term in District 27 was much closer among the county's voters, however, with Crowell only capturing just over 50 percent of the vote at 2,497 votes to Democrat challenger Linda Sanders' 2,438.

Democrat State Rep. Steve Hodges was unopposed in his bid for a second term in the 161st District and received 4,626 votes.

The county's voters overwhelmingly favored Constitutional Amendment No. 1 (to make English the state's official government language) with nearly 88 percent of the vote: 4,239 to 580.

Constitutional Amendment No. 4 (provisions relating to the financing of stormwater control projects) was also favored but at a narrower margin: 2,422 to 1,951.

Proposition A, which would make changes to casino laws, was rejected in the county by a close vote, 2,358 to 2,446.

Proposition B, which would create the Missouri Quality Homecare Council, received the nod from Mississippi County with 3,599 yes votes and 1,133 votes against it.

Proposition C, which would require investor-owned electric utilities to generate or purchase electricity from renewable energy sources, was also approved in the county with 2,807 yes votes and 1,767 votes opposing.

Other votes cast in Mississippi County were:

* Secretary of state: Republican Mitchell "Mitch" Hubbard, 1,695; Democrat Robin Carnahan, 3,322; Libertarian Wes Upchurch, 47; and Constitutionalist Denise C. Neely, 76.

* State treasurer: Republican Brad Lager, 2,425; Democrat Clint Zweifel, 2,439; and Constitutionalist Rodney D. Farthing; 104.

* Attorney general: Republican Mike Gibbons, 2,092; and Democrat Chris Koster, 2,848.