The race for Franklin County public administrator features incumbent Mary Jo Straatmann D-Union, and perennial candidate Gary Getman, R-St. Clair.

Straatmann, is running for her first re-election and Getman, despite running numerous times, has not held public office in the past.

The probate court appoints the public administrator to act on each case as ordered: Probate estates for deceased, conservator estates, guardian estates, or for any other actions the court desires.

Clients are called wards and they can be of any age. They can be elderly or young with no family to support them.

The Missourian asked each candidate the same questions about this race and their thoughts on the future of Franklin County as it pertains to this particular office.

Why are you running for office?

Straatmann was first elected to this position in 2012.

“I ran for this office because I had prior experience as a paralegal, and I knew this is the job I wanted to do,” Straatmann said. “I want to continue to be the one to look out for the elderly and mentally and physically disabled individuals who have no one else to take care of them.”

Getman, who has previously run for sheriff and presiding commissioner, says he wants to continue a life of public service.

“I have spent a lifetime in Franklin County, other than my service in the Air Force,” Getman said. “I have given to public service in law enforcement, community involvement and raising my family in this great county of ours.”

What problems do you think need to be addressed in Franklin County?

Getman believes the dignity of those under his charge should be priority one as public administrator.

“The office of the public administrator should work toward improving the quality of life of persons under guardianship while protecting the ward’s dignity and self-respect,” Getman said. “The ward’s right of self-determination shall be observed whenever possible. The growth of the ward shall be encouraged through his/her increased participation in decision-making.”

Straatmann has a long list of issues that she feels should be focused on in the short-and long-term service of those she is responsible for.

“From my perspective as a public administrator, these are issues and needs facing Franklin County,” Straatmann said. “Abuse, neglect, and exploitation of seniors and adults with disabilities; lack of mental health services, care facilities, and inpatient treatment facilities in Franklin County; aging parents who have no one to care for their disabled or special needs child; and an aging population and the need for additional care facilities.”

What do you plan to keep/change if elected?

Upon entering office, Straatmann says there have been several upgrades she has made to streamline the office and allow better access for those it serves.

“During my first term I upgraded the hardware and software in the office for increased efficiency,” she explained “I hired a part-time employee to help with day-to-day office work. I obtained an office cell-phone that I carry with me 24/7 to allow care facilities and care providers to contact me for emergency, medical, and other needs.”

Getman says he would do his best to serve his wards at home and hopes to expand services by working with state agencies.

“I would do that and more,” Getman said. “To be an advocate, a voice for those who are unable to be heard, to work closely with our State of Missouri Divisions of Family Services, Division of Aging, our local law enforcement, hospitals, home health care, Transportation Services, adult and child daycare in the reporting, investigations, and care of those in need of the services and resources available.”

Why should residents vote for you?

Getman says he wants to improve the office of public administrator and improve the services provided to the residents of Franklin County.

“I will put forth the core values of our community, with integrity, honesty, care, and ingenuity to move forward with the efforts of the public administrator’s position. Thank you again for your support and your vote on Nov. 8th.”

Straatmann says she doesn’t look at the position of public administrator as a job, or office, but instead a mission into which she has poured her heart and soul for the past four years.

“I love the work I do as public administrator and this job gives me great satisfaction in serving others who have no one else to look after them,” Straatmann said. ”I will manage and protect their assets. I will be their voice and make good decisions for their living arrangements, health, safety and welfare. I will treat everyone with compassion, dignity and respect.”