COLUMBIA – Boone County Presiding Commissioner Ken Pearson said Thursday that he would not seek a second four-year term in this year’s election, and Democrat Bondi Wood stepped up as the first to announce she would run for the seat.
Pearson, a Democrat, took office on Jan. 1, 2007. He said he wants to spend more time with his family and travel but would continue to work with the commission on important issues.
“I think it’s been a great experience,” Pearson said. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet people I normally wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet.”
Pearson said he thinks that he has put his time on the commission to good use, that the county has made progress toward improving economic development and that his previous experience with the Missouri Department of Revenue has helped.
“I think it’s important for the city of Columbia, Boone County, the university and all of us to work together to promote development,” Pearson said. “It’s something we as citizens need to work for. We want good jobs for our community.”
Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller said Pearson’s knowledge of tax law has benefited the county and the commission.
“He’s been the right person for the job during this tough economic time,” Miller said. “He brought a lot of expertise to the commission that we needed.”
Pearson worked with the commission to combine the Design and Construction Division of the Public Works Department with the Planning and Building Department, saying the merger would streamline county bureaucracy for those who want to develop land.
“What this will do is make it a one-stop-shop,” Pearson said. “It should save everyone time and money.”
The commission also created a new Public Information Office under Pearson's watch.
“We are able to get information out in a more timely manner,” Pearson said, “and we’re more proactive now.”
Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin said residents of Boone County are lucky to have Pearson as a commissioner.
“He’s brought thorough and worthwhile discussions to every issue,” Elkin said.
Elkin and Miller said they had no intention of seeking the presiding commissioner's post. Wood, a 35-year resident of Boone County, issued a statement minutes after Pearson's on Thursday morning saying she would run for the post. Voters will elect a new commissioner in the Nov. 2 general election after each party chooses a nominee in the Aug. 3 primary.
Wood owns American Cleaning Systems in Columbia and previously worked on campaigns for several local political candidates, including Pearson and Sixth Ward Columbia City Council candidate Rod Robison, who ran against incumbent Barbara Hoppe in 2009.
Wood said her work on those and other campaigns, coupled with her involvement with county issues through the years, would mean an easy transition if she's elected.
“She’s got a good education, good instincts, good practical experience and business experience,” Pearson said.
Terry Spickert, chairman of the Boone County Republican Central Committee, said his party is seeking a candidate for presiding commissioner. Spickert said he thought the Republicans have a qualified and competitive pool of candidates from which to choose.
The Boone County presiding commissioner is paid $84,000 per year.
The first day candidates can file for offices to be filled in the November election is Feb. 23. The filing period closes March 30.