COLUMBIA — The candidates running for the Boone Hospital Center Board of Trustees’ two open positions fielded questions from the public during a forum Tuesday evening at the Roger B. Wilson Boone County Government Center.
Though incumbent Fred Parry and opponent Keith Schnarre tried not to focus on each other’s shortcomings, the subtle differences in how they would manage their responsibilities during the five-year term became more apparent as they answered questions.
“I joined the board when it needed representation from the community, and I’ve been a strong advocate for making sure the community’s interests are represented,” Parry said. “I’ve been a strong advocate for making sure that we keep our resources in this community.”
Parry, 44, has served on the board for 5 years. He is the publisher of Inside Columbia Magazine and a talk show host on radio station Newstalk 1400/KFRU. Schnarre, 62, is a former presiding commissioner for the Boone County Commission. He is a self-employed Centralia farmer who works with his son.
“I represent the out-county,” Schnarre said. “Over half the patients (of the hospital) come from outside the county. It’s important to keep the patients as our primary concern.”
Though the time with the candidates was fairly brief and the questions from the public few, concerns were consistent from most in attendance. Recent negotiations for securing a lease from BJC Healthcare and room for improvement in the hospital health care system were the main issues discussed.
Parry expressed his disappointment with Schnarre for what he called his unwillingness to renegotiate the BJC lease.
“I feel like he let the citizens of Boone County down when he did not push BJC under the table to negotiate,” Parry said.
Schnarre defended himself by saying that he did work to negotiate new terms with BJC Healthcare while he was on the Boone County Commission.
“There’s a lot of new terms that have come through the ideas I put out there one week, where as Mr. Parry did not want to,” Schnarre said.
Board of Trustees member Brian Neuner was also present Tuesday to take questions from the public. Neuner is running for his one-year position again and is uncontested. Neuner said he thinks he deserves re-election because his strong financial background brings a different perspective to the board.