Difficult choices for federal, state and county offices await south county residents when they visit the polls for next week's general election.
To help our readers make informed decisions about the candidates and the issues, this newspaper has profiled candidates for numerous contested races and today the Call makes the following endorsements for the Nov. 2, general election.
2nd Congressional District
Three candidates are challenging Republican incumbent Todd Akin in the race for the 2nd District U.S. Congressional seat.
Constitution Party candidate David Leefe, Libertarian Darla Maloney and Democrat George Weber, a former state representative, are challenging Akin.
Mr. Akin's views are very extreme and don't coincide with those of many district residents.
Therefore, we believe Mr. Weber is the best candidate to represent residents of the 2nd Congressional District.
3rd Congressional District
Four candidates are vying in next week's election to fill the 3rd Congressional District seat being vacated by Democrat Richard Gephardt, who is not seeking re-election to the post he has held since 1976.
Libertarian Kevin Babcock, Democrat Russ Carnahan, Republican Bill Federer and William Renaud of the Constitution Party are seeking the 3rd Congressional District seat.
Mr. Federer twice — 1998 and 2000 — unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Gephardt and most likely sees this election as his best chance to claim the seat he's had his eye on for some years.
But we believe Mr. Carnahan, currently a state representative, is best qualified to represent the residents of the 3rd Congressional District.
1st Senate District
Three candidates hope to claim the District 1 Missouri Senate seat being vacated by Republican Anita Yeckel.
Democrat Harry Kennedy, Green Party candidate David J. Sladky and Republican Bob Yeckel, Anita Yeckel's husband, are vying for this seat. Anita Yeckel cannot seek re-election to the Senate because of term limits. Mr. Kennedy currently serves as the District 3 state senator. Because of redistricting, Mr. Kennedy cannot seek re-election in the 3rd District.
While Mr. Yeckel and Mr. Kennedy both would serve residents well, we believe that Mr. Kennedy is the best qualified for the Senate seat, particularly given his views on the issues facing south county residents and his public service both as a state senator and as a state representative.
66th House District
Republican Robert Weiter is challenging Democratic incumbent Michael Vogt for the 66th District House seat.
Given that Mr. Weiter couldn't be bothered to return a candidate questionnaire, we have no idea where he stands on the issues. On the other hand, Mr. Vogt, who has been state representative since 2002, has done an excellent job of representing his constituents and deserves to be re-elected to a second term in the House.
85th House District
Libertarian Jim Craig and former County Councilman Jeff Wagener, a Democrat, hope to unseat Republican incumbent Jim Lembke in the race for the 85th District Missouri House seat.
Rep. Lembke's views are extreme, even for a Republican, and are not in line with those of most south county residents.
It's certainly no secret that we've had issues over the years with Mr. Wagener, but believe that after being out of office for four years, he has matured and will be more responsive to constituents. We believe his views are more in tune with residents of the 85th District than those of Rep. Lembke.
Therefore, the Call endorses Mr. Wagener for the 85th District House seat.
95th House District
Republican incumbent Jim Avery is unopposed in his bid for a second term in the Missouri House and currently is serving a year in Iraq with the National Guard's 1140th Engineering Battalion.
While we don't agree with Rep. Avery on all of the issues, we certainly admire his courage and wish him a safe return to the United States and his duties in the Missouri House.
96th House District
Two candidates are seeking to unseat Democratic incumbent Pat Yaeger in the race for the 96th District House seat.
Republican Mike Becker and Libertarian Ronald Levy, a former member of the Bayless Board of Education and a perennial candidate, are challenging Rep. Yaeger.
Given that Mr. Becker couldn't be bothered to return a candidate questionnaire, we have no idea where he stands on the issues. On the other hand, we're all too aware of where Mr. Levy stands. Therefore, the Call endorses Rep. Yaeger for a second term in the Missouri House.
97th House District
In a repeat of the race two years ago, Democrat Jane Koeller is challenging Republican incumbent Walt Bivins, who was elected to the Missouri House two years ago.
As we said two years ago, the odds are good that Mr. Bivins will come out a winner because of the composition of the 97th District, but we believe Mrs. Koeller's views are more in tune with south county residents. Therefore, the Call endorses Mrs. Koeller.
100th House District
In another repeat of the race two years ago, Republican Michael Rohrbacker is challenging Democratic incumbent Sue Schoemehl for the 100th District House seat.
South county residents could not have asked for two better candidates than the ones in this race. As we said two years ago, either candidate would do an excellent job of representing residents of the 100th District. But we believe Mrs. Schoemehl's views are slightly more in tune with those of residents and coupled with her two years of service in the House, we believe Rep. Schoemehl is the best candidate in this race.
Three candidates are vying to serve the remaining two years of the late George R. "Buzz'' Westfall's term as county executive.
Libertarian Theodis "Ted'' Brown Sr., Democratic incumbent Charlie Dooley and Republican Gene McNary, who held the post before Westfall, are vying for the county executive'siseat.
Mr. Westfall died in October 2003 and Mr. Dooley unanimously was selected by the County Council to serve as county executive until the November election. Mr. McNary previously served as county executive from 1975 to 1989.
While we believe Mr. Dooley has done a capable job of stepping into the county executive's seat, we believe Mr. McNary has the edge when it comes to experience and therefore endorse Mr. McNary for county executive.
Upon the recommendation of the Fire District Advisory Committee for Tomorrow's Emergency Services, or FACTS, the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors has placed a 33-cent tax-rate increase on the ballot.
Proposition S is designed to fund the first five years of a 10-year, long-range plan recommended by FACTS participants. The plan, which carries an estimated cost of $32,631,858 for the next five years, would allow the district to maintain the level of emergency service the district currently provides.
We applaud district officials for engaging the community over a two-month period this summer and those residents who participated, but believe the process was rushed.
We would have preferred to see more time spent on options other than just throwing more money at problems the district faces.
Regrettably, we cannot endorse Proposition S.