COLUMBIA — Three candidates filed to run for several Boone County offices that will be contested in the Aug. 5 primary and the general election Nov. 4.
The offices of District I commissioner, assessor and public area are all being contested, while District II commissioner Skip Elkin, Sheriff Dwayne Carey and Treasurer Kay Murray, all of whom are Democrats, are slated to run unopposed.
District I (Southern) Associate County Commissioner
Incumbent Karen M. Miller is being challenged in the Democratic primary by two opponents, Sid Sullivan and Mark Stone, both of Columbia.
Sullivan announced his candidacy last month, while Stone filed Monday.
Stone, 47, was the executive director of the nonprofit Services for Independent Living and worked in the county government as its first director of human resources. He currently runs his own lawn-care company.
A 1983 graduate of MU with a bachelor’s degree in personnel services, Stone said he has great respect for Miller and that they have a friendly relationship. Miller has been serving since 1993, and Stone said the county needs someone with a different viewpoint.
“I just think I have a different perspective, a new perspective,” Stone said. “I have a lot of administrative and managerial experience, and I think I can bring that to the county.”
Stone, who has not previously run for public office, said he talked about running for county commissioner for a year and felt this election was the time to do it.
At the same time that he is embarking on a run for commissioner, Stone is also facing legal issues.
On March 6, he was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. Stone said he had pled guilty to an earlier DWI in 1990. He is being charged with a class D felony as a repeat offender and is scheduled to have a hearing on May 20, according to court documents.
Stone said the arrest does not impact his interest in serving on the commission, and that he has been told he has the support of several Southern District residents.
Miller did not respond to a telephone message left by the Missourian.
In 2006, Sullivan previously ran for the 24th District seat in the state legislature but lost in the Democratic primary to Jim Ritter.
With no Republican candidate filing to run, the county commissioner election will be held on the Aug. 5 ballot.
In the assessor’s race, incumbent Tom Schauwecker is being challenged by Barbara G. Bishop in the Democratic primary. Schauwecker of Columbia has been in office since 1998. Bishop of Ashland filed her candidacy on Monday.
Bishop, 53, serves on the Ashland City Council and has worked as a real estate appraiser for the past 13 years.
She graduated from State Fair Community College with an associate’s degree in accounting in 1978 and earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Missouri State University in business administration in 1979.
Bishop said that with a slumping economy, property taxes have a larger impact on businesses and residents’ financial well-being.
“Boone County needs an assessor who will protect schools and public safety by assessing property fairly,” Bishop said. “The property owners should be assured that the taxes they pay are fair.”
Schauwecker has come under fire recently, and the group Citizens for Property Tax Fairness has made it a goal to defeat him this election. Bishop said she was approached a few months ago about running by Mike Martin, a member of the group and publisher of its Web site.
For example, the group dislikes the fact that Schauwecker raised personal property taxes on automobiles. Additionally, there was an incident in 2005 when Schauwecker used offensive language about a citizen when accidentally leaving a message on her voice mail. Schauwecker later issued an apology.
But Bishop says her conversation with Martin was informal, and her decision was made months later after conferring with her family and friends, she said. Bishop said she would like to have the group’s support and agrees with many of its grievances.
“First and foremost, I’m running to restore professionalism, fairness and openness to the Boone County Assessor’s office — for both constituents and the staff,” Bishop said.
She stressed, however, that she should not be viewed as a member of the group or as running on behalf of its members. She is aware of the group’s Web site, retiretom.wordpress.com, but has not visited it.
In an odd situation, Bishop is also currently running for mayor of Ashland on the ballot for the April 8 election. She said because the assessor’s new term does not begin until September 2009, if elected to both offices, she would serve 18 months of the 2-year mayoral term and then resign to take the office of county assessor. She said she would not and cannot serve both offices at once, but will continue to serve on the City Council regardless of the outcome of the elections.
County Public Administrator
Current administrator Connie Hendren’s decision to retire from her position has made her office the most sought after in the upcoming election.
Four candidates are running to fill Hendren’s role. The candidates in the Democratic primary are Cathy D. Richards of Columbia; Casey Forbis of Hallsville; and Dan Dunham of Columbia. John D. Sullivan of Columbia is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
Dunham is a 1972 graduate of MU with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He earned a law degree from MU in 1980. He has practiced law in Columbia since 1981 and is an attorney at the firm of Carlyle Foley P.C.
Dunham said he had not thought about running until he was approached by an attorney that he has great respect for. The attorney told him that Hendren was not seeking re-election and that Dunham should run for the office.
“I decided maybe I ought to serve,” Dunham said. “I see it as public service rather than a stepping stone.”
Dunham focuses on tort and personal injury cases. But he said he has practiced all different kinds of law, including criminal, contract and real estate cases.
He said is not very familiar with the other candidates, but points to his legal experience as the reason he is the most qualified for the administrator office.
“The other candidates seem inexperienced,” Dunham said. “I am running because I think the job has grown to where there are liabilities and we need a person with a legal background.”