Republicans assume control of 5 Callaway offices

Don Norfleet/FULTON SUN photo: Gary Jungermann, left, takes the oath of office Thursday as the new Callaway County presiding commissioner from retiring Associate Circuit Judge Cary Augustine.

Don Norfleet/FULTON SUN photo: Gary Jungermann, left, takes the oath of office Thursday as the new Callaway County presiding commissioner from retiring Associate Circuit Judge Cary Augustine.

With the start of the new year on Saturday, five new Republicans and three unopposed Democrats will take office in Callaway County.

Previously, Callaway County Western District Commissioner Doc Kritzer, whose term was not up for re-election, was the only Republican elected county official with offices in the courthouse.

In the Nov. 2 general election, Republicans swept all five contested Callaway County offices. They included Gary Jungermann as presiding commissioner, Christopher Wilson as prosecuting attorney, Judy Groner as circuit clerk, Christine Kleindienst as recorder, and Denise Hubbard as county clerk.

Three incumbent Democrats were re-elected in November without opposition. They were Associate Circuit Judge Carol England, County Collector Pam Oestreich, and County Auditor Rosemary Gannaway.

Three of the five Democrats who left office did so voluntarily, either by retirement or by deciding to run for another office. Democrat Bob Sterner did not seek re-election as prosecuting attorney and was elected as associate circuit judge, replacing Republican Cary Augustine, who did not seek re-election.

The five Democrats who left office have a total of 84 years of experience as elected county officials. Kenneth Dillon, who retired, had 16 years as recorder. Linda Love, who retired, had 24 years as county clerk. Bob Sterner, who was elected as associate circuit judge, had 20 years of experience as prosecutor before deciding not to seek re-election. Lee Fritz, who was defeated as presiding commissioner, had 16 years of experience. Curtis Quick, who was defeated as circuit clerk, had eight years of experience.

Four Democratic Callaway County officials were not up for re-election in the Nov. 2 general election. They are Sheriff Dennis Crane, Treasurer Marsha Chism, Assessor Dan Roe, and Eastern District Commissioner Gabe Craighead, who has two years remaining on his term as commissioner.

Craighead was defeated in November in his bid to become county recorder.

Because the new year starts on Saturday and most county offices will be closed on Friday, county officials scrambled Thursday to be sworn into office.

Sterner’s research showed any elected county official or a notary public could swear in newly elected county officials.

On Thursday Associate Circuit Judge Augustine swore in Jungermann as presiding commissioner. Christine Kleindienst was sworn in as recorder and Denise Hubbard was sworn in as county clerk.

Sterner was sworn in as associate circuit judge by Quick, the outgoing circuit clerk.

Sterner’s swearing in and robing ceremony was far more elaborate than for other county officials. Incoming prosecuting attorney Wilson praised Sterner for his 20 years of dedicated service as prosecutor.

Wilson had worked as assistant prosecuting attorney for several years before he was elected to replace Sterner as prosecutor. Wilson recounted numerous times that Sterner worked many long hours in pursuit of justice.

Several other speakers from Sterner’s office as well as the Missouri State Highway Patrol and other organizations also lauded Sterner. Sterner’s family was by his side during the swearing in ceremony. His children assisted him in the formal robing of the new judge.

On Saturday, Sterner plans to swear in Wilson as prosecuting attorney.

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