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Government, Politics & Issues

St. Louis police union's business manager to run for Jefferson County county executive

Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart
File photo I Chris McDaniel I St. Louis Public Radio
Jeff Roorda announced this week he will run for county executive of Jefferson County. He unsuccessfully sought a county council and state Senate seat.

Jeff Roorda, the business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, is running to become the next county executive of Jefferson County.

It’s the latest electoral pursuit for Roorda, a former Democratic state representative who has attracted local and national attention, and controversy, for his law enforcement advocacy after several police-involved killings in the St. Louis area.

Roorda announced he was running for the county executive post on Sunday night. Ken Waller, the current Jefferson County executive, is not seeking re-election. The race to replace him is likely to be competitive.

In an interview, Roorda said he wants to improve the county’s dangerous roads and create more jobs.

The county has, “some real opportunities in some of the industrial courts, particularly in Arnold, to bring more employers out to the county. And I’ve got a record of working with those municipal leaders. I think I’m the right guy to move that forward,” Roorda said.

Roorda served in the Missouri House of Representatives for eight years. He ran unsuccessfully for the Jefferson County Council in 2016 and for a Missouri Senate seat in 2014. As business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, he’s often defended law enforcement officials involved in high-profile shootings — such as former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

He has come under fire in the last year for calling the St. Louis treasurer Tishaura Jones a “cop hater” and “race baiter.” In response, Mayor Lyda Krewson condemned Roorda’s comments and said he would not be welcome in her office. Last week, protesters listed Roorda’s firing as business manager of the police association as one of their demands.

Roorda said his vocal support for police officers positions his candidacy well in Missouri’s current political climate. He served as police officer for 17 years in Arnold and Kimmswick. He also said he would like to see more funding for the Jefferson County sheriff’s department.

“Jefferson County is a law-and-order county,” Roorda said. “You can see historically that the county historically has supported pro-police candidates like me.”

Former state Rep. John McCaherty, R-High Ridge, is also running for Jefferson County executive. McCaherty resigned from the Missouri House last month to focus on his county executive bid.

Follow Chelsea on Twitter: @ChelSeaport

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