Bid for county clerk could leave Jackson mayoral seat open

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

The outcome of the Republican primary for Cape Girardeau County clerk could open up the seat for mayor of Jackson.

Paul Sander, who has served as Jackson's mayor for the past 13 years, is in a race for county clerk against Kara Clark, director of sales for the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau.

If Sander wins the August primary he automatically wins the clerk's seat because no Democrat has filed. He would take office on Jan. 1. The Jackson Board of Aldermen would appoint a mayor pro tem to fill Sander's two-year term expiring in April 2007. Losing the election for clerk would mean Sander must file for re-election in December if he plans to continue as mayor.

Whether Sander will file for re-election if he loses in August is unknown. "I have made the decision, but I'm not ready to announce it," Sander said. "I have painted both sides of the picture, but I'm just not ready to make it public."

Sander said he plans to announce his decision as early as the first week of July.

The office of mayor is considered a part-time job and pays $250 per month. The Cape Girardeau County clerk position is a full-time job that pays $63,436 per year.

Two current aldermen in Jackson have expressed an interest in the mayor's seat should it open up. Ward 1 Alderwoman Barbara Lohr, a four-year member of the board, and Ward 2 Alderman Kerry Hoffman, a 12-year member of the board, will both consider their options in December.

"I have told the mayor if he wins then I would probably be interested in running," Lohr said.

Jackson has never had a female mayor, said city clerk Mary Lowry. Jackson resident Rebecca Ward ran unsuccessfully against Sander in 2005.

Hoffman, who has served as mayor pro tem for about eight years, said it's too early in the countywide elections to announce a decision about running as mayor.

"I have thought about it and am considering that option," he said. "I'm not going to make any commitment until after the primary election."

None of the remaining six aldermen has an interest in running for mayor.

"I'm happy being an aldermen, and I do not want to be mayor," Alderman Larry Cunningham said.

Aldermen Joe Bob Baker, Phil Penzel, David Reiminger, Dale Rauh and Val Tuschoff share the same feelings.

"I've been asked if I was ever going to run for mayor, but I would rather stay doing what I do," said Tuschoff, who has served for 15 years and is the longest serving alderman on the board.

jfreeze@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 246

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