Mary Jo Straatmann was elected — by a slim margin of 363 votes — Tuesday to the Franklin County Public Administrator seat, while incumbent Assessor Tom Copeland had a much larger cushion.
Straatmann, a Democrat, received 22,746 votes, or 50.36 percent, to win over Republican Julie Bowen who received 22,370 votes, or 49.53 percent.
Because the vote difference between the two candidates is less than 1 percent, Bowen could request a recall within 30 days after the election is certified.
However, she told The Missourian that she won’t request a recount.
“I have full confidence in Debbie Door and her staff,” she said. “I can say I ran a honest campaign and feel very good about that.”
Copeland received 27,374 votes, or 60.72 percent, to defeat Democrat Angela Beckett, who received 16,014 votes, or 35.52 percent. Libertarian assessor candidate Robert Trokey received 1,168 votes, or 3.7 percent.
If the election results stay as they are, Straatmann will replace the current Public Administrator Carol Eckelkamp who is completing her fifth term in the office.
“I’m excited and very appreciative of voters for their support, confidence,” Straatmann said. “I’m anxious to get started Jan. 1 and continue to do the good things Carol has done for people and maybe bring new fresh ideas to the office.”
A public administrator’s primary role is caring for individuals who are unable to care for themselves.
“I wish Carol well on her retirement and look forward to continuing to help the people she takes care of,” said Straatmann. “I will work hard to make it an office for people in the community.”
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.
“It was a very professional and friendly campaign with each candidate running on our own platform,” said Straatmann. “I am just amazed at how many people came out and took a look at this position.”
Straatmann, a paralegal, added that she has been working for several years with the court personnel that she will be working with in her new position.
“I look forward to continue the working relationship with court clerks that has developed over time and continue to do great things for the county,” she said.
Straatmann added that she wants to educate residents on the role of the administrator.
“I’d like to bring more exposure within the county,” she said. “I don’t think some understand what the public administrator does and they should know.”
She further noted that those she encountered on the campaign trail were receptive to her.
“I appreciate their friendliness and willingness to listen,” she said.
Tom Copeland will serve his second four-year term as assessor.
“I feel very good about the results,” he told The Missourian. “We all ran a good, clean organized structured race. Everyone did their due diligence to get out to the people.”
Copeland added that he is happy the election is over.
“I’m tired. There was not one day of the week I was not out somewhere in the campaign for the last six months,” he said. “I brought my family in to assist — we did a good job, they did a good job, but most of all the voters of Franklin County did a good job of getting out and voting. It was almost a record turnout, consequently I think we were all winners.”
Copeland noted that he looks forward to continuing serving as assessor.
“I appreciate the support in all ways. It is a privilege to be able to be an elected official and do what is right for the people and try to help people in all forms of situations,” he said. “I do appreciate all the people who came out and voted and cast their ballot for me for another four-year term. There is plenty of room for opportunities for them to visit if they have questions — I am always willing to talk and analyze everyone’s specific situation.”
He further explained that the office is a “continuous learning process.
“We’re never done learning and teaching ourselves new things,” Copeland said. “There are continuous education programs with appraisers. It never stops — learning what we can do to make our lives better here in Franklin County.”