Republicans carried the day in Platte County on Tuesday, Nov. 6, with incumbent Platte County presiding commissioner Ron Schieber retaining his seat and Parkville resident Tony Luetkemeyer winning the open 34th District Missouri State Senate seat.
Schieber’s race was the only county position in contention this election cycle, facing political newcomer Democrat David Park. Schieber received 52 percent of the vote (22,996 votes) to Park’s 46 percent (20,391). Other county officers re-elected were clerk Nancy Armstrong, auditor Kevin Robinson, recorder of deeds Gloria Boyer, collector Sheila Palmer and prosecutor Eric Zahnd.
Luetkemeyer beat out Riverside resident and Democratic nominee Martin T. Rucker II for the spot in Jefferson City. Luetkemeyer received 51 percent of the vote (22,745 votes) to Rucker’s 48 percent (21,102).
Luetkemeyer will replace Dr. Rob Schaaf, a term-limited Republican from St. Joseph. Schaaf filed an ethics complaint against Luetkemeyer this fall, providing a 43-page complaint to the Missouri Ethics Commission and giving a 48-minute speech on the Senate floor, tying donors who closely aligned with both Luetkemeyer and former Gov. Eric Greitens. The MEC dismissed the complaint.
Schieber, 58, is originally from Maryville, Mo., but has a long history in local elected offices. Married, with five daughters, Schieber holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and works in banking and finance. He served on the Park Hill board of education for seven years, then four years in the Missouri House of Representatives, until he returned to Platte County to run for presiding commissioner in 2014.
During the campaign, Schieber pointed to campaign promises made and kept since his 2014 election, including the sale of Shiloh Springs Golf Club, building the park maintenance fund, plans to reduce and realign county sales taxes — including the parks tax — and making law enforcement the county’s top priority.
Luetkemeyer, who is an attorney for an insurance company in Kansas City, started his campaign early this year as a political outsider and beat out Buchanan County presiding commissioner Harry Roberts in the Republican primary in August.
Originally from Farmington, Mo., he moved to Kansas City eight years ago following graduation from the University of Missouri School of Law.
Though Luetkemeyer doesn’t have a political office background, he has been involved politics in various aspects.
As a junior at MU, he was the student body president and during Law School, then Gov. Matt Blunt appointed Luetkemeyer to the Board of Curators as the student representative. He fought to keep tuition low and voted on a new president for the school.
He was also an intern in the Domestic Policy Council at the White House during the summer following college graduation, prior to attending law school. After law school, Luetkemeyer clerked for a judge on the Missouri Supreme Court before starting work at a law firm in Kansas City.
During his campaign, Luetkemeyer said he would work in Jefferson City to keep taxes low for Missouri families and businesses, rein in wasteful government spending and roll back burdensome, job-killing regulations.
He also said he supported strong funding for schools and paying good teachers well. An advocate of local control, he said he would fight any attempts by the federal government to dictate to local schools how to educate kids.
Other campaign promises include ethics reform, right to life protection, keeping illegal immigrants out of the state, supporting farmers and law enforcement through rolling back regulations and increased support.
At the county level, hot topics have been law enforcement needs, the sunset of the twice voter-approved parks tax and financial trouble at Zona Rosa.
Schieber said to make public safety the top priority of the county, the commission will need to realign the current overall sales tax structure and include a dedicated public safety tax. He said it was his goal to keep the overall sales tax rate, currently 1 3/8ths cent, as flat as possible.
In the near future, the county will need to address the growing jail population, with a consultant currently engaged to investigate options. Renovation of the basement of the current jail is a possibility, as is construction of a new facility.
A reduction to the half-cent parks sales tax is also on the horizon for the county, as is a newly-filed suit asking the courts to intervene in a dispute between the county and the UMB Bank, the trustee of bonds at Zona Rosa.
In one of the closer races, Matt Sain (D) lost in Platte County to incumbent Kevin Corlew (R) for the House of Representatives District 14 spot, but Sain won in Clay County to take the seat.