Jamie Keen

St. Clair businesswoman Jamie Keen has removed her name from the August ballot challenging Angela Gibson, Union, for the Franklin County auditor seat.

Keen dropped out of the Republican primary race Tuesday, which was the last day a candidate could remove themselves from the ballot without a court order.

In a statement to The Missourian, Keen said she has decided to go a different direction.

“As a lifelong citizen of Franklin County, I measure my success based upon my contributions back to our communities,” she said. “I was recently introduced to an opportunity that would allow me to help make a significant difference for citizens of our county, that is beyond the scope of the auditor’s office.”

Longtime county auditor Tammy Vemmer retired abruptly in February leaving the office vacant.

Gibson, who was working as the executive assistant for the county commission, was appointed as interim auditor Feb. 4.

Both Keen and Gibson were interviewed by the Franklin County Republican Central Committee for the interim seat which recommended Keen for the job.

Instead, on Feb. 28, Gov. Mike Parson appointed Gibson to fill the position until the time of the election in August.

Since Keen has dropped form the ballot, and there is no Democratic challenger in November, Gibson will become auditor with no opposition for the next two years.

According to County Clerk Tim Baker, who is the county’s top election authority, Gibson will maintain the appointment until Dec. 31. At that time, she will be sworn in to serve the two-year unexpired term.

Since more than two years remain on Vemmer’s term, the auditor’s position will be on the ballot in 2022.

The annual salary for the county auditor is $74,189.

Keen ran unsuccessfully for the office of county collector in 2018 facing Doug Trentmann and Tracy Comely in the Republican primary. Trentmann won the primary and had no Democratic opponent in November.  

County Races

Keen’s withdrawal leaves just two county office being contested this year and only one in the August primary.

Incumbent Second District Commissioner Dave Hinson faces three Republican challengers for his re-election. They include current Union City Administrator Russell Rost, Union, Franklin County Highway Department West District Supervisor Darren Walker and Mark Williams, both of Sullivan.

There are no Democratic challengers in November, thus the primary winner will essentially be the winner of the office.

The only other contested county race is that of municipal judge.

In January, 20th Judicial Circuit Presiding Judge Ike Lamke appointed A. David Arand as the Franklin County municipal judge to replace Gael Wood, who retired after just one year in office. Arand, Union, will face Ben Hotz, Washington, in the August Republican primary.

The winner of that contest will then face Democrat Bill Stahlhuth in the November general election.

Like the auditor’s position, this election would be for a two-year unexpired term.

Uncontested 

Four other incumbent Franklin County officials will walk into another four years in office unchallenged.

Republican one-term Franklin County Sheriff Steve Pelton will be unopposed in the primary and general elections.

Incumbent Public Administrator Mary Jo Straatmann, Treasurer Debbie Aholt and First District Commissioner Todd Boland will all keep their county positions unopposed.

Both Straatmann and Aholt have been in office since 2013.

Boland was appointed to his seat in August 2018 by Gov. Mike Parson and has never been on a county ballot before.

Assessor Tom Copeland is retiring in 2020 and Dawn (Copeland) Mentz, Leslie, also will run unopposed Republican primary.