Politically Speaking: Assessor Zimmerman on plan for another term — and attorney general bid lessons | St. Louis Public Radio

Politically Speaking: Assessor Zimmerman on plan for another term — and attorney general bid lessons

Sep 26, 2018

St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies to talk about his re-election bid — and what he learned from his unsuccessful run for attorney general two years ago.

The Olivette Democrat has served as St. Louis County assessor since 2011. Before that, Zimmerman was a member of the Missouri House and a staffer for Democrats Jay Nixon and Bob Holden.

Zimmerman is squaring off in November against Republican Dan Hyatt, a Maryland Heights resident who has been outspoken against ticket-happy municipalities throughout St. Louis County. Zimmerman has more than $400,000 of cash on hand, while Hyatt hasn’t raised much money yet for his assessor’s race.

Two years ago, Zimmerman was in a different political position. He had just lost a hard-fought Democratic primary against Teresa Hensley for attorney general. But the result may have been a blessing in disguise for Zimmerman, as Hensley went on to lose to Republican Josh Hawley by a landslide.

This cycle, Zimmerman chose to run for another four-year term as opposed to challenging St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger. Zimmerman was a long-time ally of Charlie Dooley, who Stenger upended as county executive in 2014.

Here’s what Zimmerman had to say during the show:

  • Losing to Hensley in 2016 was “not the end of the world,” adding that the founders of America “structured our democracy off the idea that these were not to be jobs for life — and that no one was guaranteed one of them.”
  • He’s proud of his record, which includes pushing back against a bid to get a lower assessment for a casino in Maryland Heights. He also worked against a retirement facility’s tax-exempt status.
  • He’s concerned about the festering tension between Stenger and the St. Louis County Council. “We all have our political differences,” he said. “And politics is supposed to be war by other means without the bloodshed. Feelings run hot. And passions get strong, especially during an election year. And let’s be honest: This is a particularly challenging election year. At least in my view, the institutions of American democracy are under threat in Washington, D.C., right now.”
  • Asked if he would ever run for county executive or county prosecutor in the future, Zimmerman replied: “If I’m ever going to do anything meaningful in public service, something else beyond this, then I better do this job well,” he said. “And I better be an assessor that people can be proud of. And frankly, there’s more than enough of that to keep me occupied before I worry about political what-might-have-beens.”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Jake Zimmerman on Twitter: @Jake4STLCo

Music: “You Were Cool” by The Mountain Goats