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Government, Politics & Issues

St. Louis County GOP elections director quietly ousted from office, replacement to be named

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 24, 2012 - Retired Judge Joseph A. Goeke was quietly dismissed this week from his post as St. Louis County’s Republican elections director, a job he has held since 2005.

The county’s Democratic director, Rita Days, has confirmed that he was ousted Tuesday by the county’s Board of Election Commissioners in a closed-door meeting. Goeke was out of his office by the end of Tuesday’s work day.

The dismissal was proposed by board chairman Richard Kellett, and approved on a 2-1 vote, with one abstention. Kellett and fellow Democrat Ann Pluemer voted in favor of Goeke’s removal, while board secretary Julie Jones – a Republican – voted against it. 

The newly appointed Republican member, John W. Siscel III, abstained.

Days referred all questions about the reasons behind Goeke’s dismissal to Kellett, who could not be reached for comment.

Officially, Goeke will be allowed to retire from county government, Days said, but that process could take a few weeks. Goeke also could not be reached for comment.

Rumors of Goeke’s possible departure had begun circulating a couple weeks ago, but he said at the time that he was unaware of any pending action to replace him.

Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, controls the appointment of all four members of the Board of Election Commissioners in St. Louis and St. Louis County. The commissioners hire the professional staffs.

Goeke and Days each earn close to $120,000 a year. A spokesman for Nixon referred all questions about Goeke to the Election Board.

A Republican replacement to Goeke has yet to be hired but will need to be in place shortly because the Nov. 6 election is looming. Under state law, the election boards under the control of the governor must have staffs that have a Democrat and a Republican in virtually all positions.

The director of the same party as the governor is the one in charge. Goeke had been put in place in 2005 under then-Gov. Matt Blunt, a Republican, and had run the county elections operations until Nixon took office in 2009. Right before taking the elections job, Goeke had retired as a St. Louis County judge, spending about 30 years on the bench.

In 2009, Democratic elections director Joe Donahue was hired to become the Election Board’s top executive, until he resigned in 2011 and was replaced by Days, a former state senator.

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