Ninth Republican reveals plans to run for commission seat

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Oak Ridge contractor Jeff Hahs isn't worried that he'll be lost in the crowd as he joins the ever-expanding field of candidates seeking the open seat on the Cape Girardeau County Commission.

Hahs, owner of JLH Construction, became the ninth Republican to announce his plans to seek the GOP nomination for the District 1 commission seat being vacated by 15-year commission veteran Larry Bock. Even the idea that his name is similar to another candidate -- Semo Ag & Dairy owner Bill Hahs of Jackson -- isn't an issue, he said.

The two men are not related.

Hahs has been a member of the Oak Ridge school board for 18 years, and is a former president of the Missouri School Boards Association. That experience in public office, plus his experience in the construction industry should, he said, form the basis for a strong pitch to voters.

"I think I have, after serving 18 years on the school board, more political experience than anyone in the race other than Weldon Macke," he said. "I know how to represent the people and I think I have the political abilities to win."

Macke was Cape Girardeau County auditor for 34 years before his retirement in 2002.

Hahs has lived in Cape Gir-ardeau County for 32 years. He worked on road and bridge projects for Quadri Contractors of Perryville, Mo., and Penzel Construction of Jackson and did commercial and residential construction for two other area firms before starting his own construction company in 1996.

The District 1 commissioner is responsible for overseeing the County Highway Department as well as working with other commissioners to watch over county spending in all departments and set policies for the county. Hahs said the current crop of commissioners has done a good job of managing the county's money, and he said the County Road and Bridge Advisory Board, formed after passage of a sales tax to support paving projects, was an idea that was overdue.

One of the major shortcomings for the county has been the inconsistent application of the rules governing road construction projects, Hahs said. "A primary responsibility of the District 1 commissioner is to make sure the policies and procedures are set in place and followed and every landowner is treated equally and the same."Along with Bill Hahs and Macke, Jeff Hahs faces a lot of competition in the Republican primary, which will be held in August. The other announced candidates include Penzel Construction Co. vice president Paul Koeper of Jackson; Tilsit farmer Rick Aufdenberg; Stephen Daume, a Daisy cattle breeder; Rick Shultz, a Jackson businessman; and Thomas Allen, former superintendent of the Delta School District. Ken Evans, who is self-employed after a 29-year career at Procter & Gamble, has said he is considering the race.

Pat Wissman, the owner-operator of Wissman Transporation, is the sole Democrat who has announced plans to run.

Filing for county and state offices opens Feb. 26.

335-6611, extension 126

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