Pettis County Eastern Commissioner candidate Charles McCormack is the only Democrat in the race, as well as the only Democrat in a contested race for county office this year.
McCormack has no opposition in the Aug. 2 primary election, but in the Nov. 8 general election he will face the winner of the primary Republican race between incumbent Brent Hampy and Darrell Slaughter.
McCormack has worked for the Pettis County Road and Bridge Department for the last 15 years and had a property management company for six years.
“I’m out working on the roads, doing different jobs, and people stop and ask me, ‘what are you doing, why are you doing this particular thing instead of addressing this major spot in a different area?’ and I explain to them, ‘I’m told to do this, but I’ll try to get to that if possible,’” McCormack said. “I relay the message on to my supervisor and he puts it on a list to go take care of it. After people complaining, I thought, well, if I was to run for commissioner, my hands wouldn’t be tied, I can address those issues and concerns the public have and take care of those problems more efficiently.”
Like many of the other commissioner candidates, McCormack said the top issues facing the county involve the condition of roads and bridges.
“There’s some roads that are good, we’ve repaired them, and there are some that are needing work,” he said. “There are bridges that need attention and there’s a list of bridges that fall in the category of needing taken care of and you need to address that in a manner where the worst gets the most attention first, but in general for the public, we need to make sure the roads are safe for everybody — school buses, emergency vehicles and everything else.”
He said conducting a traffic count is a good idea to help determine which roads and bridges need repair first, but “there may be a road that has a bridge on it that doesn’t hardly get any traffic, but if there is an emergency, someone having a heart attack or what have you, that bridge over there may not be top of that list but it needs to be addressed because it may save someone’s life even though it’s not a high traffic road.”
He also said the commissioners and Road and Bridge supervisors need to pay closer attention when purchasing equipment to make sure they are purchasing quality equipment.
When it comes to the budget, McCormack offered his views on the subject.
“With the budget we have to watch, as far as what we spend on these roads, if we get a grant or funding, a soft-match, what have you, we have to make sure we don’t overspend on a bridge that could’ve been done for a fourth of the cost,” he said. “That extra funding could probably be used in a different area to perhaps put a different bridge in or repave a road. … We need to pay close attention to what they spend in each budget so they have funds for equipment replacement, training for their employees, and safety. … Stay in your budget and anything that’s leftover for purchases of equipment, what have you, you can check that out.”
McCormack said he believes the main responsibilities of a county commissioner are keeping the public informed of what’s going on with county roads and lining up financing for future projects.
His goals for office include opening the lines of communication regarding the budget so the public and other departments are informed about what the commissioners are doing, and making sure Pettis County citizens can safely travel down county roads.
He said the challenges he foresees in fulfilling the position include obtaining grants for road and bridge projects and opening up the lines of communication with other county departments to properly schedule road repairs.
“I have 15 years experience at the Road and Bridge Department working on the roads that I’ll be, with the other commissioners, overseeing,” he said of why citizens should vote for him. “I know what it takes to make the roads safe, I know as far as opening the tree line out of way and keeping the grass mowed back. I can meet with the public and get their opinion about what they think we should be doing and keep them informed on how their tax dollars are being spent.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.