Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff Gary Stolzer is running for reelection this year with a twist — he is switching party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.
Beginning his 20th year serving as sheriff, Stolzer spoke Tuesday night at the Ste. Genevieve Republican Club about why he is making the big step from “blue” to “red."
“I am here, everybody’s been wondering why this Democrat of 19 years is here,” he said. “To be honest with you, in our household when I grew up the word Democrat or Republican never was used.
"For me, back when I ran, it was about winning the election, because I knew the problems going on inside the sheriff’s department at that time. Back then, everybody said there was no way you’re going to win anything around here unless you run as a Democrat."
He said he ran Democrat not really knowing what either side was.
“Over the years, I didn’t really get the full reason, I was too busy doing what I was doing, or why I need to call myself a Republican or Democrat."
The Ferguson situation a few years ago changed that.
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"I think the thing that really brought the light to me that it matters, was Ferguson," he said. "When Ferguson happened there and our state government stepped in and our federal government stepped in and screwed it up as bad as they did, it made me realize our federal government drastically affects what happens to me here locally and throughout this country.
“That’s when it really brought the light to me that it does matter what us local people say we are or aren’t … It’s pretty simple, I’m pro-law enforcement, pro-border control and I’m pro-military. We have a lot of subjects out there we all worry about, but if we don’t have those three, we’re going to have some problems and all our other issues are not going to matter that much, but we have to have those three under control. I don’t see the other party wanting to take care of any of those issues.
“What I hear with the whole gun thing totally upsets me, I’m totally pro-gun, pro-life, I can go into all those subjects, but the gun issue, we can never let the government take control of our guns. I’m not a radical by no means, but I truly believe our founding fathers gave us the right to bear arms so we could make sure the government doesn’t take us over.
“That’s why I think it’s so important for local officials to say, ‘I’m running on this party and this is why.' I think the other party has gone so far away from where they were 20 years ago, nobody can even recognize them. It’s embarrassing what they’re doing."
He feels he had to make the switch.
“I really don’t talk in front of people very often, but for some reason, I am so impassioned about what’s going on right now, it’s pretty easy to talk when you don’t even have to think about what you are saying. Me, being in law enforcement and my son going into the military, we can’t have a party that’s not supporting those two now.”
Stolzer and his wife Andrea have two children, a daughter who graduated from Webster University and a son that was just accepted into the United States Naval Academy.
“I do plan on running again,” he said. “…I knew in my heart, I had to run as a Republican this time because of obvious things that are going on that upset me.”
Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at email@example.com