Three candidates to appear on the county ballot in August and two seeking a seat in the Missouri House of Representatives in November faced the voters’ questions Tuesday evening against the backdrop of Liberty Park at a forum hosted by the McKinley Federated Republican Women.
“We feel like people need to know what the different candidates are about and what they stand for,” said Dixie Klement, President of the McKinley Federated Republican Women Sedalia Chapter. “This is a way for people to ask questions and form an opinion. The primary is coming up in August and people need to know.”
House Speaker Pro Tem Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, kicked off the forum with a legislative update. He touched briefly on five amendments that will appear on the statewide ballot in August, starting with Amendment 1 — better known as the Right-to-Farm Bill.
“It basically guarantees that every Missourian has the right to farm,” Hoskins said. “Farming rights have been under attack recently. Some groups say they are trying to help the farmer, but many people don’t feel that to be correct.”
Hoskins also touched on the transportation tax question, a three-quarter cent sales tax that would fund transportation projects across the state, and Amendment 5, related to the right to keep arms and ammunition. He also discussed Amendment 8, which, if passed, will create a new lottery ticket to fund veterans’ homes.
“Serving on the veterans commission, I see the need, and the waiting list for our veterans in the veterans homes, there’s around 2,000,” Hoskins said. “We need to reduce that wait list and a couple ways to do that are to add on to current facilities or build new facilities. If voters approve this special veterans lottery ticket, the proceeds will go to the Veterans Capital Improvement Trust fund to help in both those endeavors.”
David Dick, who will face off in the race for presiding commissioner against Pam Carter, who did not attend the forum, then took the floor. He opened with some of his experience and background, including serving with the Pettis County Soil and Water District, the Missouri Cattleman’s Association and the Missouri Beef Industry Council.
“The county is in good fiscal shape, so it might be a good time to be presiding commissioner,” Dick said. “That might all change tomorrow, but I don’t come there with an ax to grind or an enormous desire to change anything. You have to take the public input into account and make sure they have the government services they require.”
The first question posed to Dick concerned bridge safety inspection intervals, which he said he would look into. The second asked what his strength as a candidate is. He referred to his experience in agricultural operations during the drought and his fiscal management skills relevant to the cattle industry during the drought of 2012.
The third question was more point-blank, asking what future issues could affect the citizens of Pettis County’s livelihood.
“It could be more than one thing, we don’t know the population or how static that will be or how mobile that will be. The economic drivers can be weather dependent as well,” Dick said. “We are an agricultural county and I think the key is what net incomes are. I think Sedalia is very stable as an industrial base. I think it will be the normal things that affect us. The population is always coming and going and how many spendable dollars the folks have in their pocket will affect sales taxes.”
Three Republicans will face off for Pettis County Auditor. Two of the three attended the forum — Beverly Dillon and Jileen Wingerter, who both have years of experience in bookkeeping and financial management. Adam Brooks did not attend.
The first question posed asked about the candidates’ experience relevant to the position, both of whom offered a laundry list of accomplishments. The second question was more direct, asking the candidates if they would follow Missouri statute in conducting the day to day operations of the county. Wingerter had the opportunity to answer first.
“The statute states what an auditor does,” Wingerter said. “You have to do a double entry journal for each account, that’s what the statute requires. You have to say what the expenses are and why they were incurred. You have to keep in line with the commissioner’s budget that is set for each group in the budget.”
Dillon followed up with a similar answer.
“It’s pretty black and white. You have to do what the statute says and make sure everything is paid in a timely manner,” she said. “I plan to, if I get elected, work with everybody equally. I have no favorites.”
This exchange led perfectly into the next question, which was, will the candidates ensure there was no favoritism between departments in the county government.
“I will not treat one office holder more than any other,” Dillon said. “I think they should know what the budget is and what they can spend.”
Wingerter implied she would ensure the departments would stay within budget as well.
“Their budget is not set by the auditor, it is set by the commission,” she said. “But it is our job to make sure if we see expenses going through they have to be what they are supposed to be for and we have to keep them within their budget.”
Newcomer Nathan Beard, who faces no opposition in his bid to replace incumbent state Rep. Stan Cox, who is term limited in the legislature, made a last minute appearance. Beard briefly touched on his position on several of the issues facing the state. He is anti-abortion, pro-family, a Christian and does not support an increase of the minimum wage.
He is also strongly against the legalization of marijuana as evidenced by his response to a question from the gallery.
“I think it’s a horrible idea,” Beard said. “Let’s not do that. I’ve had experience in my family with people addicted to that drug and I know what it does. I think it tears down the family. I saw it tear down parts of my family. I don’t want that as a legislator. I want to protect families from even having that option.”
With the August 5 primary only weeks away, an official ballot should be available this week. In the weeks preceding the election, the Sedalia Democrat will profile each of the candidates in the contested races in the weekend editions.
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