Barry County Presiding Commissioner questionnaire: Gary Youngblood
Political Party: Republican
Current Occupation: Barry County Clerk
Past Experience: Served 8 years Missouri Army National Guard in the 203rd, Company B, at Carthage; 14 years employment with MFA Plant Food Division as plant lead man at the Carytown Plant north of Carthage; Promoted to plant Manager of the Exeter Fertilizer Plant in 1978 and moved to Cassville; 10 years at Cassville schools as director of maintenance and building grounds; Barry County Clerk since winning election in November 1994
Education: Graduated from Carthage High School 1969; attended Missouri Southern College
1. Why do you want to be presiding commissioner?
I am the type of individual who actively seeks new challenges and experiences. Having been elected as County Clerk over 23 years ago, it was never my intention to serve in that office for my entire political career. Many people may not know that the County Clerk’s office serves as the administrative hub for the entire county. As Clerk to the County Commission, my office handled nearly 95% of Commission business from keeping minutes, handling bids for goods and services, typing letters for correspondence and preparing court orders to provide payments for bridge construction projects etc. The position of Presiding Commissioner appears to be a logical progression from serving as the County Clerk. I believe that my unique experiences as the Clerk to the County Commission will insure a smooth and efficient transition for the incoming Clerk-elect as well as the individual who is elected to the newly created position of Recorder of Deeds.
2. What makes you more qualified for office than your opponents?
Having served as the Clerk to the County Commission for over 23 years I have a clear understanding of how the commission operates and the challenges it will face in the future. I recognize the needs of each of the sixty-six different political subdivisions in the county and I also have insight into the duties required for each of the county’s offices. Over the years I have worked closely which each separate county official in conducting elections, creating budgets, balancing accounts, and processing tax billings for State Assessed property. Recognizing the importance of the impact of technology in our daily lives, I have received training on and am proficient in the use of the County’s bookkeeping software program.
3. What is the biggest problem facing Barry County? What moves do you plan to make toward solving it in your next/first term?
The upkeep on our roads and bridges are vital to the success of the whole County. Business moves on our roadways. Emergency vehicles, agricultural, as well as, business need smooth, safe roads to keep the economy moving forward. School busses need safe bridges and road signs to keep our children safe. I will work with the 25 special road districts to create a county-wide vision that will optimize the funds to maintain the roads.
4. What specific goals do you plan to accomplish in your next/first term?
As County Clerk, I intentionally limited my involvement in outside organizations so I could solely focus on my elected duties and responsibilities. First and foremost, if elected Commissioner I will not be involved in any other occupation so I will be able to devote full time to the responsibilities of the Presiding Commissioner duties. It is my plan to center my energies on one of my highest priorities-improving communication throughout the county. Communication and cooperation is key for the various offices, officials, and entities to work together. Being available and open to discussion and new ideas is vital to building good relationships. These were skills I was able to practice and connections I was able to make in my role as County Clerk.
5. Are you happy with how the commission distributes funds? If so, why? If not, what do you plan to do about it?
For the most part I am satisfied with how the funds have been distributed in the past with the exception of the employee’s wages. I believe that it is important to address the high turnover issue of County employees caused by wages that are not competitive with similar jobs. In some cases, these comparable can be found within the county. For example, a law enforcement officer who works for the County does not make a wage that is competitive with officers in Cassville, Monett and Lawrence County. This constant turnover has been detrimental to county operations and I believe that we could save money in the long run if we weren’t constantly re-training county staff. Currently, each budget is created for a single year dealing on a reactive basis with whatever issue seems to be most important at the time. I will work with the incoming Clerk towards developing a budget that will allow the County to become more proactive in an effort to effectively plan and meet future needs. Being able to weather occasional economic downturns brings stability to the County and I would advocate for a healthy reserve fund.