Seligman Chamber hosts candidate forum
The Seligman Greater Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidate forum at the Seligman Community Building on July 19. Candidates answered a variety of questions and shared information on their experience and reason for seeking office.
The first audience question was directed to Gary Davis, Republican candidate for Barry County southern commissioner. Davis was asked if he intended to strictly enforce laws.
"When I worked with the FBI, I went around to all of the field offices to make sure they were doing what they were supposed to do and that they were doing it as efficiently as possible," said Davis. "I asked different offices what they needed, and I plan to ask Barry County offices what they need to do their jobs efficiently.
"I know that in the past Barry County has had jail problems," said Davis. "They are in the process of increasing the jail capacity right now, but if we have overcrowding again, we can farm the prisoners out if we have to. We should do what we need to to get criminals off the street."
When asked why he made the decision to seek public office, Wayne Hendrix, Democratic candidate for southern commissioner, said that he has been thinking about running for public office for some time.
"I have felt that money has been wasted in some areas," said Hendrix. "Roads have been paved that go by a commissioner's property and not another soul drives on.
"I've heard it said that there isn't anything that can be done about the people that are trapped in Shell Knob, but if we hadn't wasted money maybe we would have funds to help them," said Hendrix. "I have always been a fair and honest person, and I think I could help the county."
Another audience member asked Sherry Smith-Reynolds, Republican candidate for Barry County assessor, if she plans to work on the boundary line issue between the Southwest School District and McDonald County School District if she is elected.
"We are currently implementing a GIS computer mapping system that will take effect in early 2009," said Smith-Reynolds. "We will be working with the school districts and the fire districts also. I didn't know about the Southwest problem, but I would be happy to work on it."
Seligman Mayor Duane Corn stated that several contractors have built homes in Seligman due to lower building costs but that individuals who have purchased the homes have been surprised to learn that their real estate taxes are around $900 per year. Corn asked Smith-Reynolds to explain the reason for the higher real estate taxes.
"Without having records in front of me, it is hard to answer that," said Smith-Reynolds. "It's hard to talk about numbers without having them in front of me. I understand your concerns. It is your money and your tax dollars. It is also my tax dollars, and I want to do the best for your tax dollars and my tax dollars.
"I have seen June (Smith, present Barry County assessor) go to battle against the state tax commission, and I am trained by her," said Smith-Reynolds. "You have to have a person with experience to keep the state tax commission at bay so to speak. If you let them come in, you won't be able to afford your taxes."
Mick Epperly, incumbent Republican candidate for Barry County sheriff, was asked why he was interested in serving another term.
"When I took this position, I didn't take it lightly," said Epperly. "This is one of the hardest jobs in the county. It is not an 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. job. Last night I was working until 3 a.m.
"I care about the people of the county, I have worked for the people and I feel like I am making a difference for the people of the county," said Epperly.
Audience members also asked Epperly about recent issues involving the Barry County E-911 system.
"Yes, we have had problems, but every 911 system has problems and issues when it is starting," said Epperly. "There have to be vast improvements made. Our mapping isn't complete.
"It was my understanding that once the system was up and running you could call from a land line and the system would show the dispatcher your location," said Epperly. "We are not there yet."
Audience members asked Dave Bowman, Republican candidate for sheriff, if he had any new ideas to enhance law enforcement services in the county.
"If we get our 911 system straightened out, I would like to put a tracking system in all of the patrol cars for officer accountability," said Bowman. "I have been told that the E-911 software would be compatible with the tracking system."
Other Republican candidates for Barry County sheriff, Doug Bounous and Maynard Gene Hickman, also plan to focus on officer accountability.
"It is human nature to become complacent," said Bounous. "We all need to be held accountable. I want the citizens to hold me accountable."
Bounous recommended placing substations at different locations in the county to promote officer accountability and increase law enforcement presence.
"I want to make Barry County safe like it was when I was growing up," said Hickman. "I want the Barry County Jail to be the most hated county jail in Missouri. I have a lot of new ideas, but I don't want to give them away to my fellow candidates."
Other candidates attending the forum included: Richard Monroe, Democratic candidate for 7th District congressman; Jim Fohn, Republican candidate for Barry County coroner; David Sater, incumbent Republican candidate for state representative; Kevin Craig, Libertarian candidate for congressman; and Paul Douglas Sims, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.
Republican candidate for Barry County assessor, Cherry Bailey, who could not attend the event due to a death in her family, was represented by Gay Taylor.
Incumbent Republican candidate for Barry County coroner, Skip White, was delayed by a funeral call. White was represented by his wife, Kathy.