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State House nominees chosen in St. Louis, St. Charles counties

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 31, 2011 - Democrats in St. Louis County and Republicans in St. Charles County chose their respective nominees Tuesday night for two vacant state House seats on special Nov. 8 ballots.

In St. Louis County, Democratic leaders in the 83rd District selected Jeff O'Connell of Overland as the Democratic nominee to run in the special election to select a replacement for Democrat Jake Zimmerman, who resigned his House seat last spring after he was elected as the county's new assessor.

O'Connell is a former member of the Overland City Council and currently is the business agent for Laborers Local 42. He also is the Democratic committeeman for Midland Township.

Said O'Connell in a statement after his selection: "I am honored to be chosen as the Democratic nominee for state representative in our community. I have lived in this area and raised my family here for the past two decades. I will be a champion for working families and the rights of all Missourians if elected to the state legislature."

Meanwhile, in St. Charles County, Republicans report that Zumbehl Township GOP committeewoman Chrissy Sommer was chosen as the nominee for the 15th District seat that had been held by Republican Sally Faith, who resigned last spring when she was elected mayor of St. Charles.

Sommer (click here for her web site) will face Democrat Paul Woody, who was chosen by his party's leaders last weekend. Sommer issued no statement Tuesday night.

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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