COLUMBIA — John Sam Williamson has many hats.
He serves as treasurer on the board of directors for the Boone County Fire Protection District. He is involved in many community activities. He is a farmer in rural Boone County near McBaine. And now, he has a new hat: candidate for presiding commissioner of Boone County.
Williamson announced today that he will run for the seat left open by current commissioner Ken Pearson. He joins Democrats Bondi Wood and J. Scott Christianson in the race.
Williamson cited his age, 61, and experience as reasons he is running. He spoke of his history of community involvement and participation in activities. He said he has been living and working on his family's farm his whole life, and he'd like to try something new.
"I just turned 61 a few weeks ago, and I figured if I was ever going to do anything else with my life, now is the time to do it," he said.
The county commission provides services to Boone County. Williamson said residents in Columbia are generally taken care of by city government, but "the rural folks only have the county to take care of things."
He says that's something to which he can relate. Williamson is the sixth generation of his family to live on his farm, which is also home to the famous giant burr oak tree. However, he recently leased the property to a neighbor, and Williamson said he is fully prepared to focus on the race and potentially serve as commissioner.
If elected, he says he would not modify much.
"My intent would not be to make massive changes in county government," he said. He said that the county's reserves and funds are low, but he'd be reluctant to raise taxes.
"I'm a Democrat, but I'm a conservative Democrat," he said.
Instead of raising taxes, which Williamson believes strongly supports economic development, he'd like to attract businesses to the area that would provide jobs and not cause more pollution. He referenced the Discovery Park area on Highway 63 and Gans Road as an example of the kind of positive economic development of which he'd like to see more.
The Boone County Commission is a governing body consisting of two district commissioners and a presiding commissioner. The other two seats, currently filled by Karen M. Miller and Skip Elkin, are not up for re-election until 2012. The cut-off date to file for candidacy is March 30.
The primary election is Aug. 3, and the general election is Nov. 2. The last day to register to vote in that election is Oct. 6.