Jacob Doepke said he’s always been interested in local government, but he was inspired to take the next step and run for the Union Board of Alderman after a campaign that came up short in 2021.
“I read in The Missourian about an old childhood friend who was running for alderman, Christian Dunn,” Doepke, 27, said. “Seeing him run made me realize, ‘Hey, younger people can do this.’ We should be involved in politics. We can make a difference in our community.”
Dunn lost to incumbent Ward 3 Alderman Dennis Soetebier but was later appointed to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and Park Advisory Board. Dunn died suddenly in November at 31.
“I’m hoping to continue what he wanted to start and get younger people more involved in local politics,” Doepke said.
With no one else running in the Ward 3 seat, Doepke is expected to be Union’s next alderman. He will replace longtime Alderman Paul Arand, who did not seek reelection for the other position in Ward 3, which includes the west central part of Union, including much of downtown and Union High School.
Doepke is a commercial loan coordinator at Bank of Franklin County and a lifelong resident of Union and Ward 3, attending Beaufort Elementary School, then Union middle and high schools.
“I think I can bring my entire life experience from Ward 3 and Union in general. I can use that to make some informed decisions for the constituents of Ward 3,” he said.
While Union has been Franklin County’s fastest-growing city the last several decades, Doepke would like to see more businesses locate in the city and improvements made to downtown.
He said he also wants to help in the effort to secure funding through the Missouri Department of Transportation to expand Highway 47 from Washington, through Union, to St. Clair.
Doepke said being treasurer for the Union Area Chamber of Commerce has helped him make connections in the community, which reinforced his desire to run for office. Doepke replaced Brian Pickard, who is also an alderman and Bank of Franklin County employee, on the chamber board in September 2021.
Alderman and chamber board President Barb Laberer said she thinks Doepke will be a positive addition to the Board of Aldermen. “I love seeing the younger generation get involved in our city and show an interest,” she said.
Doepke also is involved with the Washington Jaycees and attends First Christian Church in Union.
Union will have no contested city government races in the April 5 municipal election. Along with Doepke, Alderman Amanda Sullivan in Ward 1, Laberer in Ward 2 and Alderman Tom Strubberg in Ward 4, as well as Schmuke in the mayor’s race, are all running unopposed.