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Politically Speaking: John Griesheimer on how Franklin County stacks up in the St. Louis region

Franklin County Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Franklin County Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer

Franklin County Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer joined St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies on the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast.

Griesheimer has served as Franklin County’s top elected official since 2011. Before that, the Republican served for 18 years in the Missouri General Assembly.

Born in St. Clair, Grieshimer was a car salesman. Along the way, he was elected to the Washington City Council and to the Franklin County Commission before winning a seat in the Missouri House in 1992.

After 10 years in the House, Griesheimer ran for and won a seat in the Missouri Senate, ultimately becoming chairman of the Senate’s Economic Development Committee and sponsoring a number of incentive programs that are still in effect. He’s a major supporter of the historic preservation tax credit program, which helped spruced up older buildings in Washington, Missouri.

Griesheimer successfully ran for presiding commissioner after term limits forced him out of the Missouri Senate. He’s also the chairman of the East-West Gateway, an agency that, among other things, steers federal money toward transportation projects throughout the St. Louis region. Once his term expires after 2018, Griesheimer says he will retire from public life.

Here’s what Griesheimer had to say during the show:

  • The hardest decision he ever made a state legislator was voting to cut eligibility to the state’s Medicaid program, he said, especially because he was raised by his grandmother, who lived off of Social Security. Still, he said he stands by his vote, adding that it wasn’t financially prudent to have so many people on the Medicaid rolls.
  • He said he’s frustrated that lawmakers haven’t come up with a plan to spend more money on roads and bridges. Griesheimer has sought to add lanes to state Highway 47, which goes from St. Clair to Washington. “It’s critical,” he said. “I mean, it’s scary when you cross a bridge and you wonder ‘is this going to hold up when you get to the other side?’”
  • Griesheimer said he doubts Franklin County will join St. Louis County’s prescription drug monitoring program. He prefers that the state establishes a database that would cover all of Missouri’s counties. Proponents of that strategy contend it would help combat opioid abuses, but the General Assembly has not been able to push a bill through that creates such a program.
  • Although he supported Gov. Eric Greitens’ campaign, Griesheimer doesn’t like how the Republican chief executive openly criticized GOP lawmakers. He also bristled at Greitens’ rhetoric against “career politicians.” “If you serve in local government and have been where I’ve been and had to make the tough decisions that I’ve had to make, if you walked in my shoes, then you know where I’m coming from,” he said.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Music: “Cherry Waves” by Deftones

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.