- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Democratic Missouri state House Rep. Bill Otto announced Tuesday he’s running to represent the state’s 2nd Congressional District in suburban St. Louis, a seat held by Republican U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner since 2013.

Otto said Wagner had poorly represented the area and said he’s ready to “make the decisions” and answer to Missourians.

“Very seldom do you ever really see anyone that appears to be working for benefit of the district rather than themselves or corporate interests or some sort of special interest,” said Otto, 59, of Maryland Heights. “They need to find someone that they can trust is not going to continue that path.”

Spokeswoman Moira Bagley Smith said in an emailed statement that Wagner, who hasn’t announced whether she’ll run for re-election, “is busy working for the people of the 2nd District; there will be plenty of time for playing politics at a later date.”

Otto criticized Wagner, saying she had not done enough in response to radioactive waste in a landfill in the St. Louis suburb of Bridgeton. A contractor for a uranium processing company illegally dumped waste in the West Lake Landfill 40 years ago, contaminating it. The Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month announced plans to test the landfill and the adjacent Bridgeton landfill.

Wagner was among several U.S. lawmakers from Missouri who signed a letter to the EPA expressing concern about underground smoldering from Bridgeton meeting the buried nuclear waste.

Otto said he hopes to hire a full-time staffer or devote a substantial amount of time to addressing the landfill.

“It’s going to take political pressure and head-butting with the EPA,” Otto said. “It needs more attention.”

While Otto called the area a “swing district,” it’s long been represented by Republicans. Former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, who garnered national attention during a 2012 bid for U.S. Senate after saying women’s bodies have ways of preventing pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape,” held the seat from 2001 to 2013.

Otto touted his “worker man’s” background. He said after his mother died when he was 15, he spent two years in a boys’ home before becoming homeless. Otto served seven years in the Navy before working as an air traffic controller. He retired in 2007.


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