14 named to consider reworking Clay County government

Seven Republicans and seven Democrats have been named to serve on the Clay County Constitutional Charter Commission, which will draft a constitution that could significantly change county government.

Clay County Presiding Judge Larry D. Harman and three other circuit judges named the 14 appointees on Monday.

The measure to create the charter commission won voter approval in November. Supporters said the county’s government, whose form hasn’t changed since it was established in 1820, needs to be updated.

Adopting a county charter would give the county the ability to pass some laws county officials now must ask the state legislature to approve.

But opponents say adopting home rule might increase taxes and other county expenses. If approved, charter government would unnecessarily add another layer of bureaucracy to county government, opponents say.

Clay County currently conducts partisan elections. Voters elect a three-member County Commission and nine other officials — prosecutor, sheriff, auditor, county clerk, treasurer, assessor, tax collector, recorder of deeds and public administrator.

Previous attempts to reform county government occurred in 2002 and in 2005. Voters rejected both efforts to adopt home rule.

Commission members will serve one year without pay to draft a constitution that also must be approved by voters.

Republicans appointed Monday were Richard Martin Bouhan, Tamera D. Evans, William D. Farrar, Kim B. Murphy, John Parry, Craig Porter and Benjamin Wierzbicki. The Democrats: Mark C. Ellebracht, Don Hanks, Gene V. Knisley, Donald T. Norris, David A. Ramsay, Robert J. Saunders and Carol J. Suter.