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Ellisville Mayor Files For St. Louis County Council As Area Republicans Regroup

Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio

Ellisville Mayor Adam Paul, who was at the center of a high-profile effort last year to oust him from office, is now seeking to be elected to a new job on the St. Louis County Council.

Paul filed Monday afternoon for the 7th District seat that’s now open, since longtime incumbent Greg Quinnannounced that he wasn’t seeking re-election this fall.

Paul, 33, said in an interview that his bid for the County Council wasn’t planned, but that Quinn’s retirement posed “an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”

Paul is the second Ellisville official to file for a county office.  The city councilman who was his chief nemesis in last year’s fight – Matt Pirrello – filed last week as a Republican for St. Louis County executive.

The Paul-Pirrello candidacies reflect the Republican jockeying underway in St. Louis County, as candidate filing continues through March 25 for this fall's ballots.

In another example, some members of the county GOP's central committee announced late Monday that they are encouraging former state Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, to run for county executive, the county’s top post. The group met with Cunningham on Saturday; she has yet to announce a decision.

Meanwhile, Paul said he has discussed his candidacy with his family, fellow Ellisville officials and supporters. “I’ve got the energy and enthusiasm necessary,’’ he said.

Paul is the third Republican to file for the 7th District spot post, and he is arguably the best knownbecause of last year’s legal fight. His rivals would be former Ballwin Mayor Walter S. Young and Mark A. Harder, a Ballwin city alderman who sits on the county GOP central committee.

As a hint of a possible combative primary, Paul already was replying on Twitter to accusations that he had been late paying his personal property taxes. Paul said that his tax declaration was filed late because the county assessor’s office had omitted two of the family’s vehicles. It took a while to get the records corrected, he said.

Paul added, “In the interest of full disclosure, I also have two speeding tickets’’ from a family trip to Colorado a few years ago.

Paul's Republican roots

Paul’s post as Ellisville mayor is a nonpartisan office. He acknowledged that “I’m not really a ‘party’ guy’’ involved in partisan politics. But he said his family had long been Republican and that considered himself a moderate Republican.

Paul noted that the 7th District has long been a Republican seat, adding, “I’m a perfect fit for the district."

Among other things, Paul said he was committed to representing the district’s views. For example, he said he was wary of any proposed merger of St. Louis with St. Louis County, saying most county residents who’ve talked to him oppose the idea.

Paul said he’s also open to discussing changes in how the county’s sales tax is distributed among county municipalities.

And he added with a chuckle, “I’m a poster child for the anti-TIF movement.” The impeachment battle that embroiled Ellisville last yearcentered on Paul’s opposition to tax breaks for a proposed Wal-Mart development, which has been scuttled since he won his fight to remain in office. Pirrello had been one of the defenders of the project.

County Republicans seek higher-profile candidate for county executive

Hadley Township Republican committeeman Dan O’Sullivan said Monday that the St. Louis County Republican Central Committee, on which he sits, won’t endorse any candidates in contested primaries.

Too Small DO NOT USE Jane Cunningham
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Former state Sen. Jane Cunningham

But he said he was among several pressing Cunningham to enter the county executive contest because they believe she has more name recognition,  a stronger political record and more money-raising ability than Pirrello or Tony Pousosa, the other Republican who has filed so far.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, in office 10 years, is being challenged in the August primary by County Councilman Steve Stenger of Affton.  Stenger defeated Pousosa for the council seat in 2012.

O’Sullivan said that other prominent county Republicans, including a couple of businesspeople he declined to identify, were considering filing for county executive. If a strong candidate does file, O’Sullivan said that party activists will seek to persuade Pirrello and Pousosa to withdraw.

O’Sullivan said top Republicans hope to have settled on a strong candidate within the next 14 days.  As for the 7th District, O’Sullivan noted that Harder was known among party activists since he also sits on the county GOP central committee. But he emphasized that the panel won't make an endorsement.

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.