Cousins file in Cape County presiding commissioner race

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

By RUDI KELLER

Cape Girardeau County Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones plans on retiring after his next term in office.

But if either of a pair of cousins who filed for his job Tuesday is successful, he'll be retiring early.

Victor Farrow of Egypt Mills, business agent for Teamsters Local 600, filed as a Democrat for Jones' job less than an hour before filing for county offices ended Tuesday. Earlier in the day, his cousin, Tom Farrow, filed against Jones on the Republican ticket.

Other than the Farrows, the last day of filing was quiet in the area, and most incumbents seeking re-election will coast to another term without opposition.

The most activity was in Bollinger County, where Al Zimmer of Patton, a Democrat, filed to unseat Sharon Lutes, a Republican, as circuit clerk and Chester Hayes of Marble Hill, a Democrat, switched his filing from the recorder of deeds race to the treasurer's race to avoid a contested primary. He will face incumbent Naomi Null of Marble Hill, a Republican.

In Jefferson City, however, there was a little more activity. State Rep. Billy Pat Wright, R-Dexter, will have a rematch in the 159th District with Boyce Wooley, a retired football and wrestling coach at Dexter High School. Wooley edged Wright in Stoddard County in 2004, but lost the race in Cape Girardeau and Wayne counties.

All of the area's legislative districts will have contested races in November except for the 157th, where Rep. Scott Lipke, R-Jackson, is unopposed.

And a third Democrat filed for the right to challenge U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau. E. Earl Durnell of Cabool will make his fourth attempt to win the office.

Durnell has run twice as a Republican and once as a Democrat. He faces Gene Curtis of Matthews, another candidate making his fourth try for Congress, and Veronica Hambacker of Salem, a retired teacher and former president of the Missouri State Teachers Association.

Running for office was in his mind, Victor Farrow said, but he wasn't decided on the race for presiding commissioner until he realized his cousin had filed for office as a Republican.

"He's on the wrong ticket," Victor Farrow said. "I assumed he was going to run as a Democrat."

Victor Farrow he doesn't expect any family squabbles over the possibility he might run against his own cousin. The two are close friends, Victor Farrow said.

Thomas Farrow could not be reached for comment on his entry into politics.

County government needs to be more open and responsive to the public, Victor Farrow said. "It's too secretive. The public ought to know how their money is being spent. The secretive way the county transit authority bought Kelley is just an example."

The Cape Girardeau County Transit Authority announced recently that it will buy Kelley Transportation, a Cape Girardeau taxi company that provides services under the taxpayer-subsidized coupon program. No details of the price or date for the takeover have been announced as the authority claims it can keep those parts secret under the state Sunshine Law until the deal is complete.

Jones, who has been in office a little more than 11 years, said he believes the commission has been a strong advocate of county growth and taken steps to keep the economy vibrant.

"We have certainly done some things to better Cape Girardeau County for a long time to come," Jones said. The county has actively recruited industry and worked for business expansion, he said.

The transit authority purchase of Kelley Transportation is one area that will enhance those growth efforts, he said. "That will be a great benefit, and that is happening right now."

Jones said he looked forward to the campaign, but doesn't relish the time he will spend placing campaign signs this summer. But regardless of the outcome, Jones said this is his last campaign.

"I have certainly told enough people that is my last term if I get re-elected," he said.

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

smoyers@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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