Two-thirds of the Franklin County Commission Jan. 1, 2013, will be new. One of the newcomers, Tim Brinker, already is known. He won the Republican primary election for first district commissioner. No Democrat filed for the office so he was elected to the position in last week’s election. There will be a race for second district commissioner so we won’t know the winner until after the November general election, but it will be a newcomer.
Both incumbents, Terry Wilson, first district, and Ann Schroeder, second district, will be off the commission Dec. 31, 2012. Wilson sought re-election in a four-man race and finished second behind Brinker. Schroeder is running for a state representative seat and did not seek re-election to her commissioner’s position. The Republican winner in the second district is Michael Schatz, who defeated four other candidates. The Democratic candidate in the second district will be Teresa Connelly, who was unopposed in the primary election.
Brinker is from Washington, Schatz lives in Sullivan and Connelly is a resident of Union. The first district generally takes in the northern half of the county while the second district is comprised of the southern portion.
Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer, Washington, has two years left on his term. The presiding commissioner is elected at large. The associate commissioners once were elected to two-year terms, but that was changed by the Missouri Legislature some years ago to four years.
Griesheimer falls into the category of the forceful leader of the commission. He speaks out on issues and that sometimes gets him into trouble. He has trouble dealing with regular critics who attend commission meetings. His “management” of meetings has not put him on an honor roll. There is criticism of his skills in handling grassroots faultfinders. The county is embroiled in lawsuits. Could they have been avoided? Perhaps.
We would recommend that Griesheimer seek advice from former elected leaders on the grassroots level. You can always learn something from those who have been there before. It is true that not many elected leaders in Franklin County have been subjected to the constant interrogative barrage, and suggestions, that Griesheimer has experienced. Some observers have termed it harassment, constant fire. If that is what it is, Griesheimer hasn’t handled the incoming rounds very well. The prayer issue to begin meetings simply spinned out of control. The intent could have been accomplished by prayers that are used in governmental sessions that are acceptable as meeting constitutional standards. To arouse the ACLU, which doesn’t take much, is like stirring up a hornet’s nest.
We expect that Brinker is going to be heard as a commissioner, judging from his actions as a city councilman. He’s taken some heat and has shown he’s up to handling it. He is not one to be kicked around and can be forceful. He has been forthright and thoughtful on issues as a councilman.
It’s too early to be judgmental on the second district contenders. Governmental track records are not there.
Franklin County has had strong and weak commissioners, like any governmental body. With the newcomers, the commission composition will be different. We’ll have to wait to see if and how operations change.