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Politically Speaking: Recorder Of Deeds Florida Discusses Overhaul Of Her New Office

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

On this week's episode of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio's Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum welcome St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Jennifer Florida to the show.

Florida represented St. Louis' 15th Ward for several terms on the Board of Aldermen, most recently winning re-election last year.

She was planning on challenging St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed in next March's Democratic primary. But she has dropped such plans after Mayor Francis Slay tapped her in July to take over the recorder of deeds office after Sharon Carpenter's sudden -- and forced -- resignation. Carpenter had violated the state's nepotism law by hiring a great-nephew to work in her office for a couple of summers.

Carpenter stepped down from her post after filing for the position had closed for this year's elections. That means Florida had to file as an independent to vie for her current job.

Florida will square off this November against Carpenter, who easily won the Democratic primary on Aug. 5.  It is fair to say that this race will be the most competitive in the city of St. Louis, since pretty much every other contest was decided during the August primary.

(Click here to listen to Carpenter's appearance on the podcast.)

During the show, Florida said:

  • She found Carpenter's comments during her appearance on the podcast to be "very disappointing" and "quite baffling." Florida contended that Carpenter was planning to retire early in April before she was forced to resign this year due to nepotism charges.
  • She knew accepting Slay's appointment was a risk, since she could potentially lose to Carpenter in November and end up out of electoral office. "For me, public service is about doing a job -- not always being the person you want to be," she said. "I wanted to be the president, but I could see that I was needed here."
  • Since taking over the office, Florida points to made many improvements. Among other things, she's unveiled an online search tool to locate property documents. She said she's also working to preserve some of her office's historical documents.
  • She said it's up to the voters, not here, as to whether her office becomes an unelected position. "I've seen this office now not has not had the attention that it needs," Florida said. "And we have these very old records in shambles. Could that happen whether that person was appointed or not, after the city going into recession? I don't know."
  • She said there's "genuine interest" in the city to make sure there's a "competent, capable, electable recorder who is interested in doing her job." She said she's been attending neighborhood association meetings and plans to launch a more traditional media campaign in the next couple of months.

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter@jmannies

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter@jrosenbaum

Follow Jennifer Florida on Twitter: @JFloridaROD

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.