By Mark Evans
Republicans Randy Ruzicka and Robin Naeger both pulled off election victories Nov. 3.
Ruzicka beat Democratic opponent Tony Ritter 2,413 to 2,085 or 53.6 percent to 46.3 percent for the Second District Commissioner seat being vacated by Joe Gettinger.
Meanwhile, Naeger beat incumbent Public Administrator Mary Jo Ramer 4,746 (52.8 percent) to 4,226 (47.1 percent).
This gives the county government four Republicans. Prior to the 2018 election there had been no elected Republican office-holders since the late 1990s, when Jeff Roth was on the County Commission.
Local attorney Robert Huelskamp did hold the public administrator position, 2006-2009. He was appointed by Governor Matt Blunt in June 2006, to fill the office left vacant by the death of Fridolin “Staabie” Staab. In November 2008, Ramer beat him in the general election, to take the position.
In 2018 Republican Claudia Stuppy was elected county collector. Later, Sheriff Gary Stolzer switched party affiliations from Democrat to Republican.
The county also overwhelmingly backed Donald Trump and Mike Pence, 69.8 percent to 28.6 percent for Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
The County went with Republican Governor Mike Parson by a 65.2 percent to 32.1 percent margin over Democratic challenger Nicole Galloway. Republican Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe also won easily, 68.3 percent to 29.2 percent for Alissa Canady.
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft also swamped Yinka Faleti, 71.1 percent to 25.5 percent.
The county also backed U.S. Rep. Jason Smith by a 68.1 percent to 29.9 percent figure for Democratic challenger Kathy Ellis.
In the precincts that vote in
the District 115 State Representative race, Republican Cyndi Buchheit-Courtway of Jefferson County topped Ste. Genevieve County resident Cynthia Nugent, 66.5 percent to 33.3 percent
Naeger’s victory over Ramer, who had held the public administrator post 12 years, surprised many people.
“I would just like to say thank you, to all of my friends and neighbors who voted for me in this election,” Naeger said. “I am excited to be chosen for the position of public administrator. I will be working with the current administrator to learn about the current clients and their needs in order to have a smooth transition and no gaps in their care.”
Naeger, who praised Ramer for her work during a zoom candidate forum cosponsored by the Herald and University Extension, is working with Ramer to make the transition smooth.
“I spoke with Mary Jo yesterday and together we are coming up with a plan for the transition,” Naeger said. “If only the rest of our government officials (on the federal level) could be so civilized and mature.”
Ruzicka, who first beat Don Kuehn in the Republican primary, before topping Ritter in the general election, also expressed pleasure in getting the seat.
“I’m very pleased with the outcome,” Ruzicka said. “It was certainly not easy. I worked for it.”
He said he felt he and Ritter “had a good campaign and we kept it clean and we worked hard.”
“I spent a lot of time on it and spent a lot of time in the commissioners’ office, too, learning about the job,” he said, “which was something I felt was very important, to be prepared for it in case I was elected. The hard work paid off and I had a lot of great people helping me. I really look forward to serving the people in the community.”