More than 100 Moniteau County residents turned out June 26 at the California Nutrition Center for a candidate forum, organized by the Moniteau County Farm Bureau and the Missouri Farm Bureau Political Action Committee.
The Republican and Democrat parties have their own candidate events, but this was an opportunity for all candidates to speak to the entire public, organizers said.
Two Moniteau County seats — the presiding commissioner and associate circuit judge — are contested. Those candidates introduced themselves and answered questions.
Those on the ballot who are uncontested who also attended were Shayne Healea, prosecuting attorney; Sarah Jones, treasurer; Ellen Ash, collector; Roberta Elliott, county clerk; and Mandy Burger, circuit clerk ex officio recorder of deeds.
Several other office holders not seeking election turned out, including the sheriff, the county commissioners, and Rep. David Wood.
Johnny Reichel and Mac Finley shared their backgrounds and goals, if elected presiding commissioner. Chris Floyd did not attend.
Finley attends Cowboy Campfire Church, is on the county central committee, and is active in the Missouri Sheep Producers and Show Me Stock Dog League. He's a Linn State Technical College graduate, former Missouri National Guardsman and a life-member of the National Rifle Association. He is retired after working more than 30 years with the Missouri Department of Transportation.
His goals, if elected, would be to develop better efficiencies within the county government, particularly in the roadway management and communications.
Reichel attends St. Martins Catholic Church, is a member of Moniteau County Farm Bureau, the Moniteau County A&M Society stakeholder, American Legion Post #5 and VFW Post #4345. He is a California High School graduate, a Vietnam War veteran and a life-member of the NRA. He retired recently after working 50 years and more than 5 million miles driving trucks for Walmart.
He praised the improvements made recently to the courthouse and county maintenance equipment.
When asked about the results of the recent county audit, Finley said it will be important to work better with what the county has and Reichel noted the budget is limited, but some changes could have been made.
The next question for the presiding commissioner candidates was regarding the potential of a concentrated animal feeding operation locating in Moniteau County.
Reichel said he was neither for or against the matter, since it is not currently a problem in this county.
"I'm a firm believer in keeping Moniteau County agriculture-based," he said.
Finley referred to the contested project proposed in Cooper County, noting the parent company, Pipestone, would have no liability regarding the spreading of the waste.
"I recognize it is a problem and tremendous discussion would be needed," if the matter were to come up in Moniteau County, he said.
Next, the candidates were asked about the county's future.
Reichel said he has been taking notes on what issues are important to other residents. He said he does not see the need for "drastic changes."
Finley said the limited budget, especially road funding, should be looked at as roads and bridges age and will need maintenance work.
Both candidates agreed no tax increases were necessary.
The candidates for associate circuit judge — Ann Perry and Aaron Martin — were introduced.
Perry is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia law school and has practiced civil and criminal law in Moniteau County since 1985. The last 27 years, she has served as city attorney and prosecuting attorney. She is a member of several organizations, including the Jaycees, Lions, California Area Chamber of Commerce, California Progress Inc., Friends of the Finke, Capital Region Medical Center board, Farm Bureau, Moniteau County Cattlemen's Association, the NRA and is president of the Moniteau County Bar Association.
Martin graduated from Tipton High School, then Culver-Stockton College and then University of Missouri-Columbia law school. He worked as a partner at a Versailles firm and then opened his own practice with a fellow attorney in Jefferson City in 2006. He also is a member of several civic organizations, including the Lions and Republican Club, and he is a volunteer at his children's schools and as a coach with the city parks and recreation program.
As the sitting judge, Martin said his goal has been to treat each person respectfully and to provide a strong, fair and impartial court.
A question for both candidates addressed the shortage of court-appointed attorneys. Perry said Moniteau County does not have the same problem as other parts of the state, though the current sheriff's increased arrests may change that.
Martin, however, said locally volunteer attorneys are feeling the burden, especially in civil cases and those involving children.
Rep. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, who is unopposed in the Republican August primary for the 6th district senate seat, as Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe was term-limited. In the last eight years as a representative of Cole County, he said he has been proud of decisions made against burdensome government and for small business.
On behalf of Democrat candidate Bryan Struebig, Rick Pope spoke. Struebig faces Nicole Thompson and Mollie Freebairn in the Democratic primary. Pope said Struebig is concerned about policies detrimental to farmers and the disappearing rural communities.
Peter Pfeifer, candidate for U.S. Senate, was the only one of 11 candidates on the Republican primary ticket to attend the Moniteau County forum. He opposes Brian Hagg, Josh Hawley, Bradley Krembs, Tony Monetti, Kristi Nichols, Ken Patterson, Austin Petersen, Fred Ryman, Christina Smith and Courtland Sykes.
A former Brentwood city alderman and professional real estate negotiator, Pfeifer said he filed on the last day of eligibility because he did not see anyone on the ballot who represented him.
"It's very important that we participate" in government, Pfeifer said. "I think people are waking up; they're tired of what we've been served."
Finally, John Webb, running for Missouri 4th Congressional District seat against Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., introduced himself. A former Kansas City policeman and a small business owner in Raymore, Webb said he loves the Constitution and has been disappointed in the current U.S. Supreme Court and Congress for implying it to be irrelevant.