Parry wins re-election to county hospital board

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 | 11:03 p.m. CDT; updated 3:09 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
Fred Parry

COLUMBIA — Incumbent Fred Parry easily won re-election to a second five-year term on the Boone Hospital Center Board of Trustees.

Parry out-polled challenger Keith Schnarre, former Boone County presiding commissioner, 64 percent to 35.8 percent. Parry tallied 14,526 votes; Schnarre had 8,119.

During an election night watch party at The Upper Crust, Parry credited his success to a campaign message that capitalized on his role in renegotiating a lease with BJC HealthCare for operating the county-owned hospital. “People were able to see the value in that,” he said.

Parry also noted hospital plans to break ground this year on a new patient tower.

Parry, who was forced by Schnarre and the FCC’s equal air time regulation to suspend his participation in the “Morning Meeting” talk show on KFRU/1400 AM during the campaign, said he plans to return to the air Wednesday morning.

“I might be a bit rusty,” Parry said. “I miss my soap box.”

Schnarre, who was making his first effort at election since voters unseated him as the county’s chief administrator in 2006, said Tuesday night that he had yet to make a decision on whether to make another bid for public office.

“The citizens voted, and I wish Parry the best of luck,” Schnarre said.

One responsibility of hospital trustees is overseeing lease payments from BJC HealthCare. BJC, the 13th largest health care system in the country, operates the hospital. The lease brings in $7 million to $8 million a year, and trustees allocate the money to capital projects such as new medical facilities and parking.

Parry was a trustee when the lease was renegotiated in 2006 and said he helped return “nearly $100 million in revenues to citizens of Boone County.”

Parry made the lease negotiations a centerpiece of his campaign, and voters like Charlotte Larrick, a retired elementary school library assistant, responded.

“I liked what he did when they renegotiated the lease,” Larrick said on Tuesday morning while voting at the city Activity and Recreation Center. “Speaking up and doing what he did saved us a lot of money,” she said.

Alma Anthony, a retired administrative assistant at the MU School of Business who also voted at the ARC, said she opted for Schnarre because of his relatively low-key campaign and the fact that “he has a familiar name.”

Although Brian Neuner, director of business development at Aflac, ran unopposed for a one-year term, his name did not appear on the ballot. He was appointed to the board in 2007 after Llona Weiss was unable to complete her term. Neuner was unable to run for a five-year term until completing two one-year terms. That means he can seek a full five-year term in April 2009.

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