Warren faces 2 challengers
3 Republicans face off in presiding commissioner race
Three Republicans have filed for Barry County presiding commissioner, as incumbent Cherry Warren, 75, of rural Exeter, is being challenged by Terry Burgess, 31, of Seligman, and Eddie Davison, 54, of Shell Knob.
Warren, who has been elected to four consecutive terms as presiding commissioner, said he is running for a fifth term on his record in office.
"I think we've been a progressive commission," he said. "And, we've only raised taxes 1/8th of a cent in the past 20 years."
Burgess, who owns a pawn shop and ammunition supply business in Seligman, said he threw his name in the hat because he hopes to bring change to the commission.
"I served as a deputy from 2010 to 2012, and I'm still a reserve," he said. "I was part of the layoff and then was hired back on, and I think there are some things in the system I see that need addressing. So, instead of complaining, I filed for office to maybe change some things and move the county forward."
Davison, manager of a lumber business in Shell Knob, said he is in the midst of a career change, and his love for serving people led him to file for presiding commissioner.
"I thought about what I enjoy most, and that's being able to serve people," he said. "I've been a volunteer firefighter for more than 40 years, a first responder for more than 20 years, spent more than 40 years in the Lions Club, and one of my strong suits is being able to connect with every day, working class people."
Warren said his record is what sets him apart, and if reelected, he hopes to stay on the same path.
"I think my record speaks for itself, and if you look back, I've come in and we have put new windows in the courthouse, done roof repairs and added ground-source heat and air," he said. "We wrote a check for the new judicial center, and I think we built that at a good time, before costs increased. And, we increased the jail to 80 beds and put in a new evidence room, which is all paid for."
Burgess said he hopes to bring some change to the Sheriff's Department, specifically when it comes to deputy pay when one's hours go over the required 160 every 28 days.
"Right now, there is no compensation [past 160 hours] until 171 hours, and deputies get calls and don't always have the choice to be home on time, so some end up donating that 11 hours to the county," he said. "They are not compensated for that at all, and if this is fixed, that will raise morale. I was told this is the way the commission decided to do it, so I hope to change that."
Davison said one of his goals is to manage funds in a way that allows the county to give raises to its employees at more consistent intervals, as well as address other county issues.
"County employees went six years without a raise, so I want to manage funds to not get in that kind of situation again," he said. "I also think the Viney Creek closing is something we should have jumped on on day one. While it doesn't generate as much money as some of the other parks on Table Rock Lake, it's a great recreational spot for people in southern Barry County, and the economic impact throughout the area stores, restaurants and businesses goes way beyond the $30,000 a year in revenue."
Before Warren became presiding commissioner in 1994, he held a number of other positions in the community, including his 11 years as director of the ASCS (now the NRCS), his 18 years as a banker and his position on the Barry Electric board of directors. Warren was also president of the Barry Electric Cooperative, president of the school board and president of the Missouri University Extension Council.
"The people of Barry County and Cassville have been very good to me," he said. "I think I have a good understanding of agriculture in the county with my background, and one of the obstacles is dealing with environmental regulations and seeing that we do not get overrun by the EPA, and there will be some issues to deal with."
Warren said if reelected, one of his main focuses would be health care.
"Health care is one of the largest concerns, and what the cost of that health care will do to the county," he said. "I'd like to build a reserve back up, so if we are in tough straights, our reserves will be at a reasonable level."
Burgess said boosting county finances is also one of his goals, and he also feels the salary of $31,700 for presiding commissioner is too much.
"Every city in the county needs to grow, and the commission is supposed to help improve economic conditions, and if Monett grows, Barry County grows," he said. "A lot of people are asking why I'm doing this, and I'm doing it because I want to see the system change, and for Barry County to go forward, not backward.
"I am also pledging 1/3 of my salary back to public entities. Unfortunately, the job pays more than it requires the commissioner to do, so if I can purchase an item for a fire department or police department, that will relieve some of the burden on them."
Burgess said he also hopes to hold more meetings in the evenings, saying it would give residents greater opportunity to voice their concerns about any issues.