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Columbia Missourian

Karen Miller wins Southern District commissioner race

By JACKIE BORCHARDT
August 6, 2008 | 12:12 a.m. CDT
Democratic candidate for Boone County Southern District commissioner Sid Sullivan talks with his Web designer, Erica Brewer (not pictured), during a watch party at his house on Tuesday. Sullivan lost his bid for the nomination to Karen Miller. She won 6,111 votes, or 70.6 percent of the ballots cast, to Sullivan's 2,544 votes, or 29.4 percent.

COLUMBIA — Karen Miller thinks of a re-election campaign as a job evaluation. And once again, Miller passed that test with flying colors when she won the Democratic primary for a sixth term as Southern District commissioner on Tuesday night. Because no other party is fielding a candidate for the post, Miller is a virtual lock to be sworn in again on Jan. 1.

Miller won 6,111 votes, or 70.6 percent of the ballots cast. Challenger Sid Sullivan received 2,544 votes, or 29.4 percent.

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Miller skipped the usual watch party to stop by the parties of candidates in other races. She heard the final results just before 11:30 p.m.

Speaking outside Shiloh Bar and Grill — where Assessor Tom Schauwecker and Stephen Webber, who won the Democratic primary for 23rd District state representative, held watch parties — Miller expressed her gratitude.

"I want to thank the people of Boone County who voted for me," she said. "And to the people who didn't, I'm interested to hear their ideas for what they think the commission should work on."

"My door is always open, my cell phone is on my voicemail, and my e-mail is on the Web site. I am interested."

Miller was first elected Southern District commissioner in 1992. During her five terms in office, county voters passed and twice renewed a half-cent sales tax for road improvements. She also served as president of the National Association of Counties and on a committee for the national Department of Homeland Security. During this year's campaign, Miller said economic development is the biggest issue facing Boone County.

"I look forward to working on the economic effort I made my platform," she said. "That was my goal. Hopefully people will be able to measure me by it."

Sullivan gathered with friends and supporters at his home in southwest Columbia to watch the returns. He said he was disappointed with the results and hopes his ideas stick.

"It's tough to take on an incumbent," he said. "When you're kind of new, you don't have the credibility with voters that comes with a well-known name."

During his campaign, Sullivan said he wasn't looking to start a new career but to make a difference during the four-year term.

Tuesday's election ends a hot summer of door-to-door canvassing, election forums and fundraisers. Miller and Sullivan differed on the immediate concerns of the county. Miller said the county needs to spur economic development. Sullivan suggested planning for future development should take top priority.

Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and faces no opposition in November.