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County candidate filing begins today; McCulloch to be among first-day filers
County candidate filing begins today; McCulloch to be among first-day filers

Presiding Commissioner Don McCulloch plans to be among the first in line today when filing begins for county offices.
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Feb. 23, 2010) — When the Pulaski County courthouse opens at 8 a.m. today, Presiding Commissioner Don McCulloch plans to be among the first candidates in line to file for the seat.

Filing begins today for the Republican and Democratic primaries for numerous county and state offices, including the seats currently held by McCulloch (D-Waynesville), County Clerk Diana Linnenbringer (R-St. Robert), Circuit Clerk Rachelle Beasley (D-Waynesville), Prosecutor Deborah Hooper (R-Waynesville), County Collector Terri Mitchell (R-Richland) and Treasurer Morris Roam (D-Crocker).

Candidates for state and federal office will also begin filing today, but those seeking the seats currently held by State Rep. David Day (R-Dixon), State Sen. Frank Barnitz (D-Lake Spring), Circuit Judge Mary Sheffield (D-Rolla) and other state and federal offices will file at the state capitol in Jefferson City, not with local county officials.

McCulloch and Roam were both appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon to fill unexpired terms vacated by their predecessors, former Presiding Commissioner Bill Ransdall (D-Waynesville) and former Treasurer Barbara Thomas (R-Dixon), who resigned late last year. McCulloch has already said he’ll run for re-election; Roam’s plans aren’t yet clear.

McCulloch said he plans to file first thing Tuesday morning to seek the Democratic nomination for the position he now holds.

“I think there will be one, maybe two candidates on the Republican ticket; for the Democrats, I wouldn’t be surprised but I haven’t heard of any other candidates,” McCulloch said.

Learning the duties of presiding commissioner has been a challenge, McCulloch admitted. The role is quite different from the previous positions he’s held as the longtime Waynesville police chief, as county sheriff in the early 1990s, as a Waynesville school board member in the late 1980s, and as the Waynesville municipal judge from the time of his retirement as police chief until his appointment as presiding commissioner..

Some duties, however, are quite familiar.

“(The budget) was easy to work with, I’ve found; probably easier than some of the budgets I’ve worked with I the past. I’m having to learn the functions of several boards that I participate in,” McCulloch said.

McCulloch said he realizes voters will need to evaluate his performance based on less than a year of service.

When asked what he believes are his main accomplishments since being appointed, McCulloch cited his efforts to maintain an amicable relationship between the three commissioners.

“We are all for good government, and I think over the last three months, it showed,” McCulloch said.

“I am not interested in the political side of it; I am interested in good government,” McCulloch said. “I have enjoyed the job the last three months and it is something I look forward to for at least the next year, and with the cooperation of the citizenry I will return to the job and have several plans I will unveil later depending on the economic situation.”

McCulloch and Ransdall have been friends for many years dating back to when they both owned barber shops in Waynesville, and Ransdall had been a major supporter of McCulloch’s bid to become presiding commissioner after Ransdall resigned to accept a position on the Missouri State Tax Commission — a post for which the governor withdrew his name after several members of the Republican-controlled Missouri State Senate attacked him for alleged partisanship during Ransdall’s time as member of the Democratic leadership of the Missouri State House of Representatives.

McCulloch said Ransdall has been helpful in giving advice on the duties of presiding commissioner.

“Bill Ransdall and I have talked several times,” McCulloch said. “He would help me on any endeavor that I was seeking and he tried to enlighten me as much about the job as he could; his phone was always open in case I needed to call him.”

McCulloch has had a checkered history in prior efforts to seek elective office, but he noted that in most races other than his efforts against former Pulaski County Sheriff J.T. Roberts, he’s won his elections and usually by large margins.

“My races I’ve lost have always been in the primary against Roberts; in the general election I’ve won,” McCulloch said. “In the first time when Roberts defeated me for sheriff, I lost by about 27 votes, and unlike him, I didn’t seek a recount.”

McCulloch’s successful campaigns for office were in October 1991 when he was elected to the balance of the term of sheriff after he’d been appointed to fill a vacancy, and he also served as a member of the Waynesville R-VI School Board from 1984 to 1987.

“We had a six-man race for the school board and I came out on top, and I came out on top of the four-man race for sheriff and got more votes than all the others combined,” McCulloch said, noting that he was also selected by his fellow board members to serve as school board president in 1986 and 1987. He was also selected by fellow board members to serve as the first president of the Pulaski County 911 Board and as chairman of the state board of barber examiners.

McCulloch said he knows he’ll face some stiff opposition, especially as a Democrat in an increasingly Republican county.

“It’s a public office and anybody who wants it, that’s fine,” McCulloch said. “This makes me work a little harder if somebody tells me I can’t go out and win.”

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