Brother-sister duo of Cape natives running for office

Sunday, March 14, 2004

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Running for public office this year will be a family affair for Republican siblings Benjamin Lewis and Carole Iles.

Lewis on Friday filed for a judgeship in the 32nd Judicial Circuit, which covers Cape Girardeau, Perry and Bollinger counties. Iles, who like her brother is a Cape Girardeau native, last month officially declared her candidacy for a seat in the House of Representatives from Boone County.

Lewis served as an associate circuit court judge from 1991 through 1994. In private practice with Cape Girardeau law firm of Layton & Lewis for nearly a decade, Lewis said he is eager for the chance to return to the bench.

"I enjoyed being a judge and felt like I was good at it," Lewis said. "Now is the time to do it. I'm 48 years old, and the opportunity may not come again."

Incumbent Judge John Heisserer, a Democrat, is seeking election to serve the final two years of the term of the man he was appointed to replace last year -- John Grimm, who defeated Lewis to win the post in 1994.

Iles, who lives with her husband and two children in Columbia, moved to central Missouri in 1988 to attend the University of Missouri School of Law. She said the state's ongoing budget problems motivated her to run for the legislature.

"We are spending $18 billion this year, but all I hear is that we don't have enough money for public schools, universities or roads," Iles said. "I think we can do better."

The field for the seat, which is currently held by a term-limited Democrat, so far includes one other Republican and a Democrat.

Iles, 46, was a law clerk to then-Supreme Court Judge Charles Blackmar in 1986 and 1987 before becoming an assistant Missouri attorney general. She moved to private practice with the Bryan Cave Law Firm, one of the state's largest, in 1993 before being named general counsel for the Missouri Department of Revenue in 1998. Iles left the department in 2002 and isn't actively practicing law.

In the only other area candidate filing last week, Don Stephens of Advance, became the third Republican to join the race for the open 159th District seat in the House.

Jerry Elder of Bloomfield and Billy Pat Wright of Dexter had earlier declared their candidacies for the office in the Aug. 3 GOP primary. Boyce Wooley of Dexter and Ryan William Holder of Advance are vying for the Democratic nomination.

The 159th District represents northern Stoddard County, the southwestern third of Cape Girardeau County and a small corner of Wayne County. Incumbent state Rep. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, is running for the Senate.

The filing period for legislative seats, statewide office and circuit judgeships runs through March 30.

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