Three Republicans are vying for the Pettis County Western Commissioner seat in the Aug. 2 primary election.
Incumbent Jim Marcum has been challenged by Jack Robinson and Jason D. Cunningham, all of Sedalia. Since there aren’t any Democratic candidates, the seat will be decided in August, although the winner’s name will still be listed on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.
Robinson has a long list of experience with public entities, including 16 years on the Bothwell Regional Health Center Board of Directors, 13 years on the Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education, 25 years on the Central Business and Cultural District board, seven years on the Public Works Board, served on the Citizens for a Clean Sedalia Committee and is an elder at Broadway Presbyterian Church, according to his campaign literature. Also an Army veteran, Robinson previously operated Bryant Motors for 40 years with his brother. He now works at Ragar Banners.
“I’ve been in a lot of activities in the community for a long time, so when you assemble all that information, I think it’s important to apply it and the County Commission operates within the whole county of course so all the other things I’ve done feed into what’s going on in the community.” Robinson said of his decision to run for western commissioner. “I think there’s a synergism there when it’s all put together, whether it’s incorporating new ideas or whether it’s incorporating old ideas doing things differently, all those things I think are important to have a better county, to have a better operation.”
Robinson said he thinks one of the top issues facing the county in relation to the western commissioner is improving communication.
“The county court needs to communicate better with its constituents and I think that may include publishing the (commission meeting) minutes every week in the Democrat or it may include having a meeting in the evening so the people that work can go to a meeting once a month or every two weeks. Communication is really important,” he said. “The County Commission operates without much oversight if you think about it because (the Democrat) doesn’t have enough people to send somebody (to cover meetings) so the county court does pretty much whatever it wants to do, and they’ve done some things that I don’t agree with.”
Improving communication with citizens was a common theme for Robinson, who also brought up the need for communication when asked about his plans for roads and bridges.
“I’m sure they have a five-year plan, so I think you need to communicate with the constituents, ‘here we are, this is what we’re doing, this is what we intend to do next year, this is what we intend to do next week, so your driveway or your road may be closed.’ I think all that information needs to be shared,” Robinson said.
“I also think that neither the east or the west commissioners need to be micromanagers of the road crew because we have competent people that do that and the commissioners should be dealing with budgets and they should be dealing with oversight of roads and things like that,” he added. “I don’t need to know how to build a road, I need to know when a road needs attention, I think, as a commissioner.”
When it comes to the budget, Robinson said he would “look at the budget first and look at what’s been done historically, but then you also have to consider how needs have changed” to make sure the Commission operates within its means.
Robinson said he thinks the western commissioner’s main responsibility is oversight of county operations.
“That includes budgets, that includes roads, that includes the sheriff’s department, that includes everything,” he said. “There’s so many facets, not only would it be foolish to try to micromanage them, you don’t have enough time.”
Robinson said his goals for office include better communication, and the biggest challenges he sees in fulfilling the position would be becoming familiar with the budget and operations.
“I am the most qualified to be involved in running an entity like the county based on my public service and work experience,” Robinson said of why citizens should vote for him.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.