Dead man re-elected mayor of Missouri town

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 | 11:37 a.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — Harry Stonebraker was re-elected mayor of the small northeastern town of Winfield on Tuesday — about a month after his death.

Ballots had already been printed and absentee voting had already begun when Stonebraker died of a heart attack at age 69 on March 11. He won easily in Tuesday's general election with 206 votes, or 90 percent. Alderman Bernie Panther got the other 23 votes.

Lincoln County Clerk Elaine Luck said she wasn't surprised, noting Stonebraker was a popular mayor who helped lead the community of 1,500 through the devastating 2008 flood, when a levee breach caused by a burrowing muskrat left about 100 homes with damage.

"I figured he'd win because he seemed to get even more popular after he died, just like Carnahan," Luck said.

The election recalled Missouri's 2000 Senate race, when Democrat Mel Carnahan died in a plane crash just weeks before the November election, too late to have his name removed, but defeated incumbent Republican John Ashcroft. Carnahan's wife, Jean, was eventually appointed to the Senate seat until a special election in 2002, when she was defeated by Republican Jim Talent.

Luck said town aldermen will appoint a mayor who will serve until the next municipal election in April 2010, when a special election will select a mayor for the remaining year of the term.

Stonebraker was a lifelong resident of the Winfield area and a retired construction superintendent. He had nearly completed his third two-year term as mayor.

Winfield is about 50 miles northwest of St. Louis.

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