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Webster Groves Republican launching bid for County Council

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 27, 2009 - Former Webster Groves councilman Randy Jotte, who lost a bid last fall for the state House, is making another try for public office -- the St. Louis County Council in 2010.

"I'm definitely in,'' said Jotte, a Republican and an emergency-room physician.

Jotte has filed papers with the Missouri Ethics Commission (an act first noted by the Arch City Chronicle) to begin raising money for the county's swing 5th District seat that now is held by Democrat Barbara Fraser.

Instead of running for re-election next year, Fraser -- a former member of the Missouri House -- is seeking a seat in the Missouri Senate. That post's occupant, state Sen. Joan Bray, D-University, is completing the maximum two terms she's allowed under state law.

Fraser faces several potential Democratic rivals for Bray's seat. 

Fraser had won her county council seat in 2006 by defeating longtime Republican incumbent Kurt Odenwald, who's now a judge on the Missouri Court of Appeals. His wife, Sandy Odenwald, is the treasurer for Jotte's fledgling campaign.

So far, no Democrats have declared their candidacy for the 5th District county council seat, which takes in much of county's near southwest suburbs, spanning from Crestwood to the middle of University City.  The potential Democratic names circulating in political circles include three current or former mayors: Maplewood Mayor Mark Langston, former Clayton Mayor Ben Uchitelle and former Webster Groves Mayor Terri Williams.

The 5th District seat is swing political territory, and often has determined when party controlled the seven-member council. That's not the case currently. Democrats now hold five of the seven council seats.

Jotte, 49, was defeated last fall for the state House by Democrat Jeanne Kirkton, who also served with him on the Webster Groves City Council.

Jotte says he gained a lot of experience from that loss, which he hopes to apply in his quest for the council. Jotte said his key campaign issues will include the need for "prudent, responsible fiscal management'' of the county's money, and his interest in improving public transit.

Jotte added that there's little chance that he'll change his mind about seeking the council post: "The only thing that would keep me out would be a lightning strike from above."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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