Political bickering has been going on for years at the Clay County Courthouse and has invaded Platte County in recent years, too.
In the Aug. 5 primaries, voters in both of the fast-growing Northland counties have chances to help keep good people in office but also push forward other well-qualified candidates.
The Star’s recommendations in selected contested races:
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Presiding Commissioner: The Republican primary is between former state Rep. Jerry Nolte and incumbent Pam Mason. Nolte’s straightforward way of dealing with issues helped him get elected four times to the legislature. That style of governing is preferable to Mason’s divisive ways; she even tried to get a county constitution proposed by a citizens group thrown off the ballot in 2013. The winner will face Democrat Jay Swearingen in November.
County Clerk: Incumbent Sheri Chapman, elected in 2010, has served capably and is the choice over Megan Thompson in the Republican primary. The winner will face Democrat Sherry Duffett in the general election.
Recorder of Deeds: Challenger Katee Porter is trying to unseat incumbent Jay Lawson in the Republican primary; no Democrat is running for the office. Porter, a former county commissioner, has a solid record of public service, particularly in promoting a better parks system for residents. She is preferable to Lawson, who was elected to this office in 2010 and has been a perennial candidate for others, running as both a Democrat and a Republican.
County Auditor: Incumbent Sheila Ernzen has been a valuable public servant in Clay County, starting when she was first appointed in 2009 to take over for Vic Hurlbert, now the husband of Pam Mason, when he was forced from office. She lost in 2010, was appointed again to the office in 2011, and won the seat in a 2012 election. Her opponent in the Democratic primary is Dale McCaslin. The winner will face Carol McCaslin, Dale’s wife, in November.
Presiding Commissioner: Former county commissioner Jim Plunkett provided valuable leadership dealing with important issues such as pushing for better roads while serving from 2005 to 2013. He is the choice over state Rep. Ron Schieber, who supported costly state income tax cuts in the most recent legislative session, and Russ (Wojo) Wojtkiewicz.