St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann says he loves his job but an opportunity may be knocking.
Ehlmann is among 31 applicants seeking to replace Missouri Supreme Court Judge Richard B. Teitelman, who passed away last year. The list also includes former state representatives, a former Missouri Republican Party Chairman and several prominent attorneys.
An Appellate Judicial Commission, whose members are elected by the Missouri Bar Association, will interview the applicants, starting Feb. 28 at the Supreme Court Building in Jefferson City. The commission will select three nomineeswho will be forwarded to Gov. Eric Greitens for consideration.
Mid Rivers Newsmagazine asked why he applied.
“Do you really have to ask that question?” Ehlmann said in interview on Feb. 8. “It’s the Missouri Supreme Court. It’s an opportunity to serve the people of the entire state, not just St. Charles County.”
Ehlmann, 66, also served as a state representative, state senator and as a circuit judge in the 11th Judicial Circuit, which includes St. Charles County. He said he didn’t have aspirations as a high court judge – until now.
“I never thought about it until a Republican governor was elected and a Supreme Court judge unfortunately died,” Ehlmann said. “Rick Teitelman was a great person.”
Ehlmann said he is perfectly happy with his job and may run again for county executive when his term comes up in 2018. “I find it very rewarding but I just think this in an opportunity that I wanted to throw my hat in the ring and again offer my service,” he said. “It’s a very important position to fill.”
He said his experiences in all three branches of government may qualify him to be at least considered.
Ehlmann was elected as county executive in 2006. He was a member of the Missouri House of Representatives from 1989 to 1993 and a state senator from 1993 to 2001. He was an associate circuit judge from 2001 to 2003 and circuit judge in 2003.
“As a circuit judge, you’re a trial judge,” he said. “I was spending 80 percent of my time sentencing criminals, it was very depressing. By the time you sentence them to prison, it’s pretty much too late to do anything about it. In government, you can actually help people.”
As a Supreme Court judge, Ehlmann said would be a reasonable conservative. “I certainly would not make new laws from the bench,” he said. Listening to both sides of an issue, thinking it through and writing a clear opinion are required, he noted.
He said he has a reputation of listening to both sides before making a decision. “I think that served me well in the legislature, I think it served me well on the bench and I think it served me well in this job here.”
Ehlmann said his applying is not a big deal unless he’s selected as a finalist. He said he had several people call him to see if he was interested in applying.
“At first, I didn’t think I was,” he said. “I called five very good friends and gave them a chance to talk me out of it and none of them did.”