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St. Louis County Election Board elevates staff member to be new Republican elections chief

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 18, 2012 - The St. Louis County Election Board has elevated one of its existing employees – Charlene LaRosa – to be the county’s new Republican elections director for at least a year.

LaRosa had been set to retire Oct. 1 as a deputy director, but agreed instead to stay on in the new post, said Democratic elections director Rita Days.

The four-person board voted Monday to hire LaRosa to replace Joseph Goeke, a former judge who was ousted by the board less than a month ago after seven years on the job.

By law, the board must have Democratic and Republican elections directors on board in time for the Nov. 6 general election. But there’s also a special election Sept. 24, to redo the primary contest between state Reps. Stacey Newman and Susan Carlson, both Democrats, after election workers gave wrong ballots to at least 102 voters in the 87th District contest.

Days said that she has asked a lawyer if LaRosa’s new start date of Oct. 1 needs to be advanced so that she is officially in place for next Monday’s special election.

Some Republicans have been privately grumbling for weeks about Goeke’s swift ouster, which came on a 2-1 vote, with one abstention, right after there had been a change in the Election Board's GOP membership. Outgoing Republican Anita Yeckel, who had been replaced shortly before the vote, said she would never have agreed to it.

Democratic sources say that Goeke has been a target for some time, because they accuse him of intentionally putting too few voting machines in some heavily Democratic precincts in the county, which resulted in hours-long lines during the 2008 election.

Editor's note: an earlier version of this article gave the wrong date for the special election in the 87th District.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.
Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.