1. What do you view as the key role, and/or attributes needed for this position?
The candidate should be an attorney. While it is not required, you should know that the Public Administrator (PA) must appear frequently before the Probate Court and Missouri law requires representation by an attorney on most of those matters. The candidate should also have the compassion and patience of a social worker. Much of the work is serving as guardian for mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons of all ages (over 21). The candidate must be prepared to address sensitive and tedious issues with genuine concern for the Ward.
2. What experience/attributes do you have that qualify you for this position?
I am an attorney licensed in Missouri for nearly 25 years. I was a probate lawyer before taking the office in 1998. I’ve presented Legal Education seminars to other lawyers about probate practice and procedures and wrote a practice guide on the Probate Court. Over the last 13 years, I’ve developed an understanding of managing mental illness and developmental disability. I’ve developed decision matrices and networks of counselors to work through difficult decisions regarding my wards (end-of-life decisions, reproductive rights, living arrangements). I am not afraid of any situation.
3. Why do you think you are the best person for this position?
My experience and professional training make me uniquely qualified, even as compared to other probate lawyers. No amount of practice in the probate court can prepare you for the public administrator’s office, but 13 years of experience in the office gives me an unassailable advantage.
4. What differentiates you from your opponent(s) (if applicable)?
None of my opponents (Democrat, Republican, and Green) are attorneys. To my knowledge, none are social workers. Without either of those backgrounds, those candidates are simply unqualified to take on this office.
5. What do you feel are the most pressing issues currently facing this office and what plans do you have to address these issues? (please be specific)
Finding appropriate placement for mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons will continue to be a challenge in the future. The State of Missouri has cut its Department of Mental Health budget every year since I took office in 1998. The State has professed a policy of reducing in patient census and transferring those patients to community settings for their care and residence. While this is laudable in many cases, many other individuals will have a difficult time adjusting and are likely to fail and regress. The next PA will have a difficult time managing this situation.
6. Describe how you work with or will work with others to address your priorities.
I found grant money to provide additional clerical help with the office so that other staff could focus on placement issue. I also worked with the Mental Health Board to develop a grant that provides a social worker as a liaison to the PA office to help with clients who are in crisis, clients who are transitioning out of a State facility and clients who are perceived to be at risk of failing on the basis of recent behaviors.