In addition to contested races for the Sedalia City Council, the April 5 ballot will also have races for the State Fair Community College Board of Trustees and the Pettis County Ambulance District, with incumbents facing challengers in each election.
State Fair Community College Board of Trustees
Four candidates are vying for two seats. Incumbent Randall Eaton, of Warsaw, has filed for re-election, but board President Gary Noland has chosen to end his time on the board. Eaton faces three newcomers: Nick La Strada, Justin Hubbs and Marlin Hammond.
Eaton has been on the board for six years and said he has an interest in education. A career banker, Eaton has served on the Warsaw Board of Education and his wife is a retired teacher.
“I’m very supportive of the community college concept and I’m very interested in education,” he said of his decision to seek re-election. “I realize in areas such as ours a community college provides an avenue that is very important and allows people to have an education, get hours or a certificate that would not typically go to a four-year university for all kinds of reasons — cost, location.
“Many people who are not involved with education, the community college provides a great avenue and SFCC is a tremendous facility. The campus is by far one of the best in the State of Missouri. I’ve been to many and ours is really second to none, it’s tremendous.”
Eaton served on the SFCC Foundation board before joining the Board of Trustees and is also active in his church. He said community colleges serve a “huge role in rural areas such as ours.”
“Another thing we’re excited about in addition to strong academics, we’re adding some sports and just recently approved that,” he said. “I’m excited to see that’s going to move forward and include some more local students able to play here at SFCC.”
La Strada, of Sedalia, has served as the Pettis County Clerk for two terms and is a former SFCC student, followed by obtaining his bachelor’s degree at Missouri Valley College. SFCC is a family affair for La Strada, as his uncle attends, his niece and nephew recently graduated and he hopes his two young daughters will some day become Roadrunners. He said he thinks it’s a “great opportunity to have a community college in our backyard.”
“With my current job I’m involved with community service and I have an interest with the college,” La Strada said. “I want to see the betterment of the college and students and it’s an honor to go ahead and serve on the board. I had to really think it over and it’s a great opportunity to give back to the community and the students there at the college and the faculty. People have to realize it’s a non-paid board so it’s pure community service.
“To all the other candidates, I do want to say it’s good to see that people are running for the position and getting involved, people are taking an interest.”
Hubbs, of Sedalia, is the assistant manager at Kohl’s in Sedalia and has spent the last 16 years working in retail. This will be his first time running for public office, but he said he’s looking forward to the opportunity to get more involved in Pettis County.
“It was an opportunity that presented itself and I felt being involved in the community like I am, it’s a good opportunity to give back to the college,” he said. “I’m an alum from there and I wanted to take on a role there where I could give back and help them continue to grow. The current board has put them in a good spot, helping them grow, and I want to be part of continuing that tradition on.”
He is involved with United Way through Kohl’s and works with Pettis County Community Partnership.
“I’ve got a good handle on business and being in front of the public and things along those lines,” he said. “I’ve done lots of retail, lots of giving back where I can. I’m big about giving back and doing what I can to help our community because we do have a good community.”
Hammond, of Lincoln, also has a background in education as he is a retired teacher and administrator after more than 30 years in the Lincoln School District. Retired for about eight years, he has taught American history, government, health, PE and driver’s ed, and has also coached basketball, baseball, softball, football and track. Hammond has also been an elementary principal and an athletic director.
“There are some things that have taken place that I would like to be a part of,” Hammond said of his decision to run. “The issue concerning trying to expand the training center, I’d like to try to expand that to make that available to more people in the area, post-high school students that could benefit from that …
“The fact that they are beginning more of a sports program with the addition of baseball, softball and men’s and women’s soccer, I have background in that area to help with that aspect and that’s another way we can draw more students to the college and to the area and get more people involved. I’d like to be involved with that and help with that part of the program.”
Hammond, who is a past president of the Missouri Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA), said one focus for him would be “maybe expanding the area we draw students from.”
Pettis County Ambulance District Board of Directors
Incumbent Dave Clippert will face newcomer Tim Padgett in the upcoming election for PCAD District 1.
Padgett has spent about 11 years in county fire and EMS, starting as an EMT and working his way up to a paramedic. He still works as a paramedic in a few area ambulance districts. He ran in a three-way race for PCAD District 1 in 2012, but lost to Clippert.
“I filed when it first was available. I wanted to try to make a difference on the way stuff is going right now, see if I can bring something to the table that’s not currently available on the board,” he said. “As a paramedic, I know the service and that’s why I want to try to make a difference.”
Clippert has been the director of the Sedalia-Pettis County Emergency Management Agency for almost nine years and has been on the board since it began a few years ago.
“I’ve been part of this from the beginning, from getting a district established. I would like to continue on with that,” he said of his re-election bid. “There’s quite a bit that needs to be done. I have enjoyed my time with the district; it exceeded my vision of where we would be right now. There’s a great number of people working for the district and I would like to be able to stay and support them.”
Clippert served at Whiteman Air Force Base from 1993 to 1998. Since then he has been a stay-at-home dad, worked at Yeager’s Harley Davidson, and as a Public Health Emergency Planner with the Pettis County Health Center for four years. After working in emergency management at Whiteman for two years, he was hired at SPCEMA.
“(EMA) has been a great job, an enjoyable job,” he said. “It folds in very well to the ambulance district, having background in emergency situations and things like that.”
Incumbent Les Harrell has been challenged by Bill Griffith.
Harrell, an on-scene reporter for KDRO for the last 24 years, has also been on the board since it was formed.
“I’ve seen the growth, it was sorely needed — a well-funded ambulance service,” Harrell said. “I’ve been with them from the time it began and I want to keep it going and keep it strong and well-financed.
“I want to see the district continue in the direction it’s in. We have new building plans — there’s one going up at state Route TT and I hope to see it be used soon and we have land for a new headquarters a few years down the line and I want to see all that, plus we want to have satellite stations throughout the county and I want to see that happen if I can.”
Harrell served in the National Guard for 21 years, retiring as a captain. He also worked for the Democrat’s production department for about 30 years. He has served on the Sedalia City Council and the Sedalia Public Library Board and is a current member of the Sedalia Police Personnel Board.
Griffith, of Sedalia, has been involved in the first responder community for decades. He has been a police officer and volunteer fireman, serving as lieutenant in the Pettis County Fire District, which he helped when it first started as a volunteer operation in the late 1970s.
He now volunteers as the chaplain at the Pettis County Jail.
“When they established the Pettis County Ambulance District, I was one of the first ones to put my name on the list and so I got beat out last time and I am still trying to get in there to do what the people wants done,” he said.
Griffith, who ran against Harrell in a four-way race for PCAD District 4 in 2012, said he has “done it all.”
“From police to fireman to rescue, volunteering in the jail; trying to volunteer so the people of Pettis County have got a way of preventing accidents, being able to have a way to get to the hospital when they need it.
“… I want to see it done right, I want to do what the people want done,” he added. “I’ve already had people come and tell me I want this and that and I said I have to get elected first. You elect me as your director and I will put it out in front of the rest of them and try to get things done.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.