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Politically Speaking: Assessor Zimmerman on being an 'umpire' and his attorney general bid

St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On this week’s edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Jo Mannies and Tim Lloyd welcome St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman to the show.

Zimmerman grew up in St. Louis County — attending Clayton schools — before attending Claremont McKenna University and Harvard Law School. He worked for Attorney General Jay Nixon and former Gov. Bob Holden before getting elected to a state House seat in 2006.

Zimmerman also served a stint as a White House intern in 1996, right after the group that included Monica Lewinsky, the intern who later became a household word in 1997 when it became public that she had had a relationship with then-President Bill Clinton. (Zimmerman says he never met Lewinsky, and that he was in law school when the scandal broke.)

While serving in the Missouri House, Zimmerman garnered a reputation for zany one-liners — and for informing his Democratic colleagues about whether to support “emergency clauses” that allowed for legislation to go into effect immediately.

After Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment making St. Louis County’s assessor an elected position, he ran for and won the post in 2011.  He won a full term last fall.

Soon after, Zimmerman jumped into the 2016 race for attorney general. His entry sets up a Democratic primary with state Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton.  Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia,  currently is the only GOP candidate for the post.

St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman
Credit Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

During the show, Zimmerman said:

  • He sees the assessor post as “the one institution that has the power to pick some of those fights when you find yourself in a situation where somebody is trying to avoid paying their fair share.”
  • He has been surprised how much time his office has spent probing alleged fake farms in St. Louis County, since agricultural property is assessed at lower rates.
  • He is concerned about residential foreclosures, especially in troubled areas in north and south St. Louis County. “A foreclosure is not just an individual tragedy ... It is also a tragedy for the surrounding community,” because foreclosures often come in clusters and can lead to rundown neighborhoods, more crime and troubled public schools.
  • He is running for attorney general because “I care about fairness, I care about making sure everybody is treated the same under the law.” Zimmerman says he also is out to combat the current environment in Jefferson City, which he describes as “awash in influence-peddling and even outright corruption.”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Tim Lloyd on Twitter: @TimSLlloyd

Follow Jake Zimmerman on Twitter: @Jake4Mo

Music: “Black Mirror” by Arcade Fire

“Fall of the Star High School Running Back” by the Mountain Goats

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.
Tim Lloyd was a founding host of We Live Here from 2015 to 2018 and was the Senior Producer of On Demand and Content Partnerships until Spring of 2020.