Incumbent Pam Mason is hoping to hold on to her position as Clay County’s presiding commissioner, but fellow Republican Jerry Nolte says there’s been too much drama at the courthouse and it’s time for a change.
The county commission has received unwelcome attention for its involvement in lawsuits and for disputes between Mason and the county auditor.
Mason takes a different view from her opponent, and some county employees, on how well the commission has been operating.
“We have a very cohesive government that works well together in serving the citizens,” she said. “We have a balanced budget. We’ve cut taxes twice in the last three years.”
Mason said the government has been successful in attracting new businesses to the area.
“I have developed relationships with numerous businesses to keep jobs in the Northland and attract new companies to enhance our quality of life,” she said.
Nolte would be a new face for the board, but not for Missouri politics. He is a former Missouri state representative, and he’s not shy about criticizing the current administration in Clay County.
“There have been an awful lot of lawsuits and negative newspaper stories,” he said. “We need a more professionally run government.”
Specifically, Nolte cited the need to promote a merit-based system for hiring government workers and awarding contracts. He said the lack of professionalism has led to the loss of taxpayer money through litigation.
He also believes the county business climate needs improvement. For one thing, he said, the county has two development councils.
“If you want to locate here, which entity do you talk to?” he said. “It’s confusing. It’s discouraging growth.”
The Clay County Economic Development Council is a private institution. The county finances the government-run Economic Development Alliance.
He said the government needs to get out of the way of businesses.
“We need to make sure the role of government is at an appropriate level,” he said. “We need to focus on the free market method.”
The winner of the Republican primary will battle Democrat Jay S. Swearingen in the November general election.
REPUBLICANS Pam Mason
Address: 9701 N. Kenwood Court, Kansas City
Occupation: Presiding commissioner of Clay County
Education: William Jewell College, associate’s degree of arts from Maple Woods Community College
Previous public service: Presiding commissioner, 2010-present; former Clay County clerk; Mid-America Regional Council board of directors
Website: Facebook, Re-elect Pam Mason
Address: 1304 N.E. Shady Lane Drive, Gladstone
Occupation: Business owner, commercial illustrator
Education: Associate’s degree in arts from Maplewoods Community College
Previous public service: Missouri state representative, 2004-2012; Clay County Republican Central Committee