There are two Union area residents vying for the Franklin County public administrator seat during the Aug. 7 Republican primary.
Both Bill Isgriggs, 62, and Julie Bowen, 50, say they want to continue the work of the current public administrator, Carol Eckelkamp, who has served in the position for nearly 20 years. She is not seeking re-election and will complete her fifth four-year term in office.
The winner of the primary will face the sole Democratic candidate Mary Jo Straatmann in the November General Election.
A public administrator’s primary role is caring for individuals who are unable to care for themselves.
The administrator is appointed by probate court to serve more than 100 people annually, acting as their guardian or conservator and ensuring they receive proper placement in nursing homes or residential care facilities. The public administrator also files for medical insurance on behalf of the individuals and plans burials and estate auctions.
The Missourian met with both Bowen and Isgriggs to ask them why they are seeking the position, and what qualifications they have for the seat.
Bowen, who lives west of Union, is the senior branch office administrator for Edward Jones in Union. She has been with the company for 16 years.
“I want to continue the work that Carol Eckelkamp has been doing for the past 20 years,” she told The Missourian. “I think she has done a great job serving Franklin County.”
She has a strong desire to help those in need, Bowen added.
“I truly feel that helping others in need is a self-rewarding job,” she said. “When the court appoints an individual with special needs – I want to make sure that all available resources are utilized.”
Bowen has not held political office. She is a member of First Christian Church in Union, and a member of the Washington Federated Republican Women’s Club.
She also has raised two children.
Bowen is a Union High School graduate who attended classes at East Central College.
Her job experience has given her the qualifications for the position, she said.
“I have worked with attorneys and accountants on various accounts including estate accounts, decedent IRSs and IRA accounts,” she said. “I understand the importance of completing the paperwork correctly, but also giving good customer service.”
She also served on a “Grassroots Task Force Team” that provided the opportunity to work with other Edward Jones employees and legislators on laws that benefit investors.
“It was exciting to watch our country’s government at work in Washington, D.C.,” Bowen said.
As a meeting coordinator for Edward Jones, Bowen has planned large meetings specifically designed to educate other branch office administrators on efficient office practices and effective customer service. The local Edward Jones office received the recognition of the top Client Service Excellence award for 2012.
“I believe that each ladder I have climbed has made me qualified for the position as a public administrator,” Bowen said. “I will be able to recognize the needs of the people that the court has appointed to me and provide the care they deserve.”
She added that the position of the public administrator is very important and she wants to continue to educate county residents on the duties of the position.
“I am good at resolving conflict,” said Bowen. “I will keep everyone’s best interest at heart and I would never lose sight of the reason I was awarded this position, to serve the people.”
Isgriggs is employed by the state as a special court server. He delivers subpoenas and sends summonses for people to appear in court. He is retired from St. Louis County Jail where he was a supervisor of operations, he said. He worked with St. Louis County for 25 years. Isgriggs also served in the military for 25 years.
Isgriggs, of Union, is married with three children. He served three terms as Union alderman in Ward 2. He also ran for the county collector’s seat in 2010, but was defeated by the incumbent Sharon Birkman.
His experience as a court server will assist him if elected to the position, he said.
“I feel in this position you need a people person,” he said. “I feel like Carol (Eckelkamp) would like to see a person who has their heart in the job replace her.”
Isgriggs said the position is more than an “8-5 job.”
“It’s not as easy as people think,” he said. “You have to maintain the care of every person assigned and that is not a 24-7 job if you do it as you are supposed to.”
Isgriggs explained that he would be on call night and day, and be ready to make any arrangement necessary to assist someone in need of the public administrator’s services.
He added that the legal portions of the job are “very intense.”
“If you don’t follow the state and federal law you can be sued very easily,” he said. “I’m aware of what it takes to run that position.”
Isgriggs noted that he would not implement any major changes if elected.
“That position is very well structured and the basic formula is already assigned,” he said. “There is no need for any big changes — there is a very wonderful staff.”
According to Isgriggs, his experience in local government also makes him qualified for the position.
During his six years as alderman, Isgriggs said he became versed in governmental contracts, and budgets.
“With that experience, I can do the job without any problem,” he said. “I feel I can run that office effectively.”
Isgriggs also is a member of the city of Union Planning and Zoning Board and the board of equalization.