Griffin Vote Key Issue in House Race

Article excerpt

The shadow of former House Speaker Bob Griffin hangs over the Democratic primary in the 104th House District in southern Jefferson County.

State Rep. Norman Sheldon of the De Soto area is seeking his party's nomination in the Aug. 6 primary as the first step toward winning a fifth term. He was one of eight Democrats who voted against reappointing Griffin, a fellow Democrat, as speaker when the House opened its 1995 session.

Johnell Geisler McLean, also of the De Soto area, says she was encouraged to run by Democrats who were upset with Sheldon's vote. She says they did not specifically ask her to run because of Sheldon's action. It was one of several reasons she has obtained their support, McLean says.

In the November general election, the winner will face Bruce Valle, a Republican from De Soto who is unopposed in his party's primary. Valle ran unsuccessfully against Sheldon two years ago.

On Monday, Sheldon vehemently defended his vote against Griffin. "It was the right vote," Sheldon says. "That man was no good. No one should have that much power." The power Griffin wielded is not good for the state, Sheldon says.

"Some people say I am not a Democrat because I did not vote for Griffin," Sheldon says. He says voted for State Rep. Steve Gaw, D-Moberly, the current speaker. Sheldon says his constituents agreed with his actions.

McLean says, "My opponent voted with the Republicans too much to make Democrats comfortable."

The 104th District covers southern Jefferson County, except for a pop ulated strip along the Mississippi River. De Soto is the district' core.

Sheldon, 60, is retired as business manager of Local 718 of the laborers' union.

McLean, 52, is the newspaper carrier for the district, delivering the Post-Dispatch and Journal newspapers to residents. She also handled the Globe-Democrat in the area before the paper folded. She has been a carrier in the area for 29 years.

Health care is a concern of both candidates.

Sheldon complained some elderly constituents in the Medicaid program were unable to select the health maintenance organization that best suits them. The state is shifting Medicaid recipients to these organizations.

"Some people didn't chose the plan that was best them," Sheldon says. "No one was allowed to tell them what was the best plan for them," he says.

He says he wants to change state law to allow state officials to give advice about health maintenance organizations.

McLean would like the state to subsidize health insurance premiums of some welfare recipients so they could afford to leave the welfare system. She says they are stuck because the low-paying jobs they could obtain would not allow them to buy health insurance.

The state could save money and improve access to health care if it paid midwives to deliver babies of women who show no indication of having trouble giving birth. …