Republicans gain control of Callaway County Commission

By DON NORFLEET

don@fultonsun.com

A torrent of Republican votes Tuesday wrested control from Democrats of the Callaway County Commission and all other contested county offices.

Republican Gary Jungermann defeated incumbent Presiding Commissioner Lee Fritz by an landslide vote of 8,146 to 5,214, a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent. A vote of more than 60 percent is considered a landslide by political observers.

“This is not about Republicans or Democrats,” Jungermann said after his victory. “This is about a county looking for a change, and I hope to give them that. I want to do what is best for Callaway County.

Jungermann said he looks forward to meeting with other elected county officials to learn what are their three to five year goals. “I am especially concerned about communications and our Emergency Operations Center. I would like to make our Emergency Operations Center one of the best in the state. We have some work to do but I thing we can attain that goal,” he said.

Jungermann said he enjoyed campaigning for office. “Running this race for the last 17 months has been a real joy. There was no bitterness. Everybody ran their own race professionally. I am not talking just about just the Republicans running professional races for office. I think Democrats in this county also ran professional races. The Democrats in this county also did a fine job. Republicans and Democrats all worked hard and we let the voters decide, and they did. I think it was a good clean race and I actually enjoyed it,” Jungermann said.

Jungermann operates a construction firm in Portland.

Veteran political observers could not remember a time when the traditionally Democratic dominated county was controlled by mainly Republican candidates.

Fritz said “it’s been a privilege and honor to serve the citizens of this county. I think we have made a difference for the last 16 years. I wish the new presiding commissioner well.”

“I don’t believe the election was decided on issues. It must have been personalities or on a desire for a change. Even Fourth District Congressman Ike Skelton is losing. He is like a Democratic icon,” Fritz said.

The shift of the county commission from Democratic to Republican control won’t occur until current terms of office expire at the end of the year. The lone remaining Democrat commissioner is Gabe Craighead, the current Eastern District commissioner and his term will not expire for another two years. Craighead lost his race for county recorder. He had said he would resign from the commission to become recorder if he had won that race. Western District Commissioner Doc Kritzer is a Republican and with the addition of Jungermann to the commission, Republicans will have a majority of the three-member group.

In interviews with voters Tuesday, Ray Anderson of Auxvasse said he voted for Jungermann because when there is a problem with roads “the commission doesn’t do anything about it ... They just want to grade. It’s a big joke.”

Jackie Burton of Auxvasse said he voted for Fritz “because he’s been there and I’ve known him for quite a while.”

Bob Rogers in Calwood said he voted for Jungermann because he’s familiar with the name.

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