The annual John C. Ryan Picnic at Liberty Park saw candidates and their representatives from across the state and throughout the county come together for a night of fellowship and political discussion.
One common themed emerged throughout the evening, which was the conviction of the Republican Party to re-capture the White House and maintain control of the state and county offices.
“We currently have 20 of the 22 county offices held by Republicans,” said Carla Young, Republican chairwoman for both Pettis County, the Fourth Congressional District, and 52nd Legislative District. “After returning from the (Republican National) Convention I feel strongly that we are a united party and we have one goal in mind and that is to work together to win both in Washington and across the county.
“One of the things I told everyone in Cleveland was that I have the best candidates for office and I continue to urge all of them to take the high road and run a positive campaign,” Young added. “The November election is crucial for all Americans and we have a chance through our votes to stand up and make a real difference with this election.”
Rather than have a guest speaker for the event this year, Young allowed each candidate to have three minutes to address the audience.
“With less than a week before the Aug. 2 primary, we wanted to give them an opportunity to speak while we were all gathered before the election,” Young said.
Thirty current office holders and candidates or their representatives on both the federal, state and local levels spoke at the event.
At the midpoint of the candidates’ remarks, Young and Stanley Cox, president of the Pettis County Pachyderm Club, announced Barbara Clevenger as the recipient of the John C. Ryan Award for outstanding service to the Republican Party.
Clevenger is in her second term as the Pettis County Recorder of Deeds and also serves as the secretary of the Pettis County Republican Women.
“I was totally shocked when I finally realized I was the recipient,” Clevenger said after the event. “When they mentioned that the recipient was a graduate of Sweet Springs it still didn’t dawn on me because I thought might be Frank (Higgins) but I thought won last year.
“It just didn’t dawn on me that they were speaking about me,” a grateful Clevenger said. “It really is such an honor.”
In her office, Clevenger is responsible for issuing marriage licenses and maintaining all property records. The office also files military discharge papers for veterans and is responsible for maintaining historical records for the county.
“Barbara is exactly what a good officer holder should be,” Pettis County Presiding Commissioner David Dick said. “She truly exemplifies what it means to be a public servant because the job isn’t about her but instead she is concerned about helping others through her work.”
Dick, who has known Clevenger for more than 30 years, described her as a warm and kind person who is helpful to everyone and takes care of the details that often may go unnoticed.
“Barbara is continually looking to modernize the systems in her office to try to become even more efficient,” Dick said. “She wasn’t a career politician or an agenda candidate when she ran; she sought office because she wanted to offer her insight and serve the citizens of Pettis County through her work and actions and has done so in an exemplary fashion.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.