816 North

April 21, 2014

Candidates line up for Northland primary elections

Candidates begin to make their cases in Northland primary campaigns.

A diverse mix of Northland political newcomers and longtime stalwarts are running in the August primary election in Clay and Platte counties, but no Democrats filed for a county office in Platte County.

“We talked about it and no one was able to come up with a time when we came up with a zero slate,” said Pauli Kendrick, chairwoman of the Platte County Democratic Central Committee. “We feel that we are active in the county but of course, we are not holding positions right now.”

Four years ago, Republicans made a clean sweep of political offices in Platte County, defeating every Democratic incumbent and challenger.

Kendrick said those losses in the general election were extremely difficult because several promising and longtime officeholders were defeated. The Democratic committee is now focusing its efforts to capture several Missouri statehouse and other political races, Kendrick said.

“I think it goes back and forth,” Kendrick said. “There have been times when Democrats were definitely in the lead and right now Republicans are but we feel very sure that we will be back.”

In many races, the Aug. 5 primary will narrow the slate to one candidate for each political party in November’s general election.

Platte County

Presiding commissioner:

Jason Brown recently announced that he would not seek re-election. Jim Plunkett, the former 2nd District commissioner, is being challenged by Russ Wojtkiewicz and Ron Schieber.

County clerk:

Joan Harms also said she would not seek re-election. In that primary race, Nancy Armstrong will face Robert Boyer.

Clay County

Presiding commissioner:

On the Republican side, incumbent Pam Mason is seeking a second four-year term. Mason is being challenged by former Missouri Rep. Jerry Nolte.

Political newcomer Jason Starr had filed for the Democratic primary but recently withdrew. Starr said it wasn’t the right time for him to seek political office.

Mason said her experience as a county office-holder sets her apart from Nolte. Among her accomplishments, Mason said the county settled its ongoing legal disputes with municipalities in Clay County. Under her leadership as presiding commissioner, Mason said taxes have been cut twice and the county’s bond ratings have improved. The county is on pace to add over 5,000 new homes in the next several years, she said.

“I know county government, the operations of it, the applicable laws or state statutes and the various systems used in each office to serve citizens,” Mason said. “With me, the citizens know that they have an individual experienced in county government to lead it effectively.”

Nolte said being the owner of a small business and serving eight years in the Missouri House of Representative give him the insight and experience to serve as presiding commissioner. Nolte said it was time for the county to embrace new leadership. The important issues facing Clay County area jobs, basic services and professionalism, he said.

“Clay County is rapidly developing; the only question is how we will grow,” Nolte said. “We must change direction and choose economic opportunity and job growth, not continue the divisive politics of the past.”

County clerk:

Incumbent Sheri Chapman faces Megan Thompson in the Republican primary. The winner will face Sherry Duffett, a longtime county employee who is unopposed in the Democratic race.

County auditor:

Sheila Ernzen, who was appointed to the office by Gov. Jay Nixon, faces Dale McCaslin, the husband of a Republican candidate, in the Democratic primary.

Three candidates have emerged on the Republican side, including longtime former Democrat Carol McCaslin, who had previous served as presiding commissioner and county treasurer. The two other candidates are political newcomers, Blake Scott and Bruce Culley.

County collector:

Republican Lydia McEvoy is seeking re-election, and is being challenged by Bill Doores. Former presiding commissioner and county clerk Tom Brandom is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

McEvoy said her office has partnered with municipalities in Clay County and joined the county assessor to purchased new software. Taxpayers can now make partial payments on their tax bills.

Doores echoed McEvoy’s concern for software upgrades but also said he would make improvements in how funds are collected.

“I know what it’s like to keep raising the bar and right now I feel no one is working, no one is trying anymore,” Doores said.

Recorder of deeds:

Incumbent Jay Lawson is being opposed by former Eastern Commissioner Katee Porter in the Republican primary.

Lawson could not be reached for comment.

Porter said her education and professional experience would enable her to manage the office professionally and in accordance with state and county law.

“The biggest problem I see for this office and Clay County as a whole is the lack of leadership it has in its top officeholders,” she said. “As recorder, I will lead by example, looking for ways that will provide better customer service to the public and I will eliminate unnecessary spending within the recorder’s budget so taxpayers can keep more of their money.”

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