Two Washington residents and one from Union are squaring off in the Republican primary for Franklin County presiding commissioner.
With no Democrat challenging in November, the winner take all primary will crown the county’s top administrative office for the next four years.
Contending for the office, are First District Commissioner Tim Brinker, Washington School Board member Trish Mitchell and Union Special Road District member Jonathan Zimmermann, who is also the city of Union engineer.
The Missourian asked each of the candidates their thoughts on what challenges Franklin County may be facing in the coming years and why they feel they are the best person to lead the county into the future.
The primary election is Aug. 7, 2018.
Why are you running for office?
Brinker, who has served as First District commissioner since 2013, says he hopes to remain part of the solution and improvement of the quality of life of the residents and fulfill a proper faith-filled stewardship of life.
“I hope to continue to apply and utilize my communicative skills and knowledge of public service to the decision making process that needs to be done as a presiding commissioner,” Brinker said. “I not only enjoy making the right decisions for we taxpayers of Franklin county, but my track record of accomplishments in my time as associate commissioner and acting presiding commissioner is one that I am extremely proud of.”
Mitchell hopes to bring a fresh face and perspective to the county government.
“I will bring different life experiences, the ability to see things through a different lens and new and creative ideas to the table,” Mitchell said. “I believe that ethical governance, public safety and responsible spending should be the focus to bring our county forward. Real success happens when the county honors its citizens, protects them and maintains a safe environment all within a limited, balanced budget and I want to see to it that it happens.
Zimmermann says he can give the voters something they won’t get from his opponents.
“I am running to give voters a choice,” Zimmermann said. “I grew up in Jeffriesburg. I have lived in Union since 1993. I have, I believe, a different background than any of the current commissioners, and others running for office.”
What problems do you think need to be addressed in Franklin County?
Zimmermann says the ever growing county population needs to be better represented by the county commission.
“We currently have a three-member commission,” he explained. “The commissioners represent 100,000 people. I don’t think that is an adequate form of representation. The problem becomes compounded when you have two commissioners from the same community. Somebody living in Meramec Township may have completely different concerns than someone living in Union Township.”
Mitchell agrees issues vary depending on what part of the county a voter may live in.
As I’ve been out on the campaign trail I’ve knocked on hundreds of doors and talked to many people,” Mitchell said. “In the eyes of the people, good government is their top priority. Good working relationships within the county, government efficiency and debt reduction. They want good decision makers in there who have a clear identity and unwavering value system.
Brinker said there are always numerous challenges in a diverse government such as Franklin County.
“Highway 47 needing to be four-lanes from Washington to St. Clair, the heroin epidemic, are certainly a couple of large issues,” Brinker said. “We can have all of the projects and desired outcomes we would love to have, but without proven leadership with documented results, those projects and desires are simply empty wishes.”
What do you plan to keep/change if elected?
Incumbent Brinker says county growth will be paramount in the next several years and if elected he will focus on those areas.
“Economic development and countywide zoning recommendations and applications need to be considered in more detail,” Brinker said. “Franklin County is taking steps to create an environment in technology that will make our government more responsive, easier to deal with, and easier to address. Infrastructure is a key element. I will, no matter what, make Highways 47 and 50 a top priority for our county.”
Zimmermann believes transportation in Franklin County has the greatest impact on the residents of Franklin County, but only a select few had a voice.
“We are trying to involve more people of varying backgrounds in the transportation decision making of Franklin County,” Zimmermann said. “I have been chairman of the Franklin County Transportation Committee since it was formed in 2006. What we were trying to accomplish was to create better representation for the residents of Franklin County. We modified the committee to include the townships, villages, municipalities, MoDOT, and Franklin County government and are currently creating a safety committee to include fire protection, law enforcement, and school districts.”
Mitchell says transparency will be in the forefront and if she is elected she plans to establish an inter-departmental task force to identify and eliminate waste throughout the county and apply those savings to county needs.
“I plan to record the regular meetings and put them on the website so citizens who cannot attend may view them at their leisure to stay up to date on what’s going on,” she said. “I’d also like to see the rest of the county elected officials give regular video updates on what’s going on in their office. There is a wealth of knowledge in Franklin County and we should be tapping into that. We need to hear from those closest to the issues who can offer perspective and solutions and help us make better, educated decisions.”
Why should residents vote for you?
Mitchell says she is an independent thinker and understands that government works for the people and not the other way around.
“I will bring leadership skill sets that I’ve acquired through positions I’ve either been elected to, appointed to or chose on my own,” she explained. “I will listen to the citizens, make educated decisions, have an open door policy and always see this seat as a seat of service and never of serving one’s self.”
Brinker says voters should choose him because he has a proven positive impact wherever he has served publicly.
“Times are much too volatile to choose anyone else for the position of presiding commissioner,” he said. “Ultimately it boils down to relationships both inside and outside of our organization, that I have established through my decades of public service. I intend to continue utilizing and nurturing these relationships I have in Jefferson City, and Washington, D.C. to continually improve Franklin County and our services to the great citizens of Franklin County.”
Zimmermann says his entire career has been to serve the people and he has a lot to offer the citizens of Franklin County.
“In my current position, I am the city engineer, transportation engineer, building official, zoning official, and flood plain administrator for the city of Union,” he explained. “I think my experience, my education, and my background are all beneficial to the position of presiding commissioner.”
Zimmermann says engineers are tasked with protecting the health, safety and welfare of the general public. “I have been a licensed engineer since 1999 and have worked on countless public works projects within Franklin County,” Zimmermann said. “I have designed facilities in Washington, Sullivan, Gerald, Union, St. Clair, Pacific and unincorporated Franklin County.”
Mitchell says our government is a reflection of its people.
“So, if you’re not satisfied with your current government then it’s up to you as a voter to change that,” she said. “Even with our own personal flaws, our community’s flaws, our nation’s flaws, this is still the best place on Earth to live and good government, integrity and ethics is still something we should be fighting for every single day no matter what.”
Brinker says working as a county commissioner is not easy, nor is it a perfect science.
“I know in my heart that I am the best candidate for presiding commissioner,” Brinker said. “We are losing almost 100 years of political leadership experience here in Franklin County as a result of John Griesheimer, Debbie Door, Linda Emmons, and Bob Parks retiring. I am the only candidate who has been here conducting the business of Franklin County.”
Address: 1330 Regina Drive, Washington.
Family: Wife of 28 years Betsy Brinker, Ryan 24 Edward Jones Financial Advisor, Holly 20 Mizzou student, Beau 14, Scarlett 10 both attend Our Lady of Lourdes in Washington.
Employment: Franklin County Acting Presiding Commissioner and Small Business owner Brinker Promotions, KLPW radio sports broadcaster.
Education: Saint Francis Borgia Grade School, Saint Francis Borgia and Washington High School, East Central College.
Clubs and memberships: Member of the Washington Elks Lodge, Knights of Columbus, Hummingbird Club, Combined Christian Choir, Quail Forever,
National Wild turkey Federation, NRA, Ducks Unlimited, County Commissioners Association of Missouri, Missouri Association of Counties, National Association of Counties, Saint Francis Borgia Athletic Association, Mercy Hospital Community advisory committee, Washington Area Transportation committee, Brush Creek Sewer District Trustee, and Washington Area Chamber of Commerce.
Previous elected offices: Washington City Councilman 1994-2012, First District Commissioner Franklin County 2013-present.
Adress: 821 W. 5th St. Washington.
Family: Married to Mark, 3 Children, 2 Grandchildren.
Employment: Wife and Mother for 30 years, Operated a licensed in-home daycare for 14 years, Operated Basic Training for Wellness (Massage Therapy, Personal Training and Group Exercise instructor).
Education: Graduated from Bowling Green HS, attended MIZZOU majoring in Elementary and Early Childhood Education.
Clubs and memberships: Chair of the Franklin County Republican Central Committee, Campaign Chair and Corresponding Secretary for the Missouri Federation of Republican Women, YMCA Advisory Board, Board member for the Buddies Not Bullies outreach program, Optimist Club member.
Previous elected offices: Serving second term on the Washington School Board, Franklin County Central Committeewoman serving Ward 4 in Washington.
Address: 486 Porterford Road, Union Missouri
Family: Wife Thuy linh, stepdaughter Sidney, Daughter Katy.
Employment: 1985 to 1993 Clearview Condominiums; 1993 to 2000 Brunjes and Associates, Consulting Engineers; 2000 to Present, City of Union
Education: 1986 Union High School, 1989 East Central College Associates Arts, 1992 University of Missouri at Rolla, Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering.
Clubs and memberships: Kiwanis, United Way, East West Gateway Executive Advisory Committee, Franklin County Transportation Committee Chairman.
Previous elected offices: Union Special Road District.