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Boone County Commission candidates talk transportation, economic development, home rule

Thursday, October 18, 2012 | 10:26 p.m. CDT; updated 8:14 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, October 23, 2012

*This story has been modified to further explain Northern District commission candidate Janet Thompson's stance on home rule.

COLUMBIA — Boone County Commission candidate James Pounds brought props with him to the state and local candidates forum on Thursday afternoon at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

Stacking books of building regulations on top of the table in front of him, Pounds set himself apart from the other candidates by trying to show the crowd of about 50 that regulations were “excessive.”

Each candidate offered his or her opinions on key issues such as transportation, economic development and home rule.

Opening statements

Northern District Democratic candidate Janet Thompson said her experience as a lawyer, public defender, mediator and arbitrator exemplifies her detail-oriented personality. She also said her experience running horse shows taught her to “look at the fairgrounds as an asset to the community” because of the shows' potential to bring in revenue.

Northern District Republican candidate Don Bormann said his experience as a business owner, Centralia Chamber of Commerce member, Centralia Public Library board member and current member of the Centralia Board of Aldermen gives him a good handle on budgets, roads, planning and zoning decisions, and county buildings and grounds.  

Southern District Democratic incumbent Karen Miller said that although roads and the budget appear to be the issues at the forefront of this election, they have greatly improved over the past 20 years that she has served on the commission. She said the commission deals with much more complex decisions such as federal and state government mandates and unplanned problems, and her experience allows her to deal with them.

Southern District Republican candidate James Pounds said taxes, roads and regulations are the three largest issues that need to be addressed. As a business owner, he said overregulation scares businesses away from Boone County.

Transportation

Thompson said she would like to continue the commission’s history of collaboration with the state and cities to enhance the road system.

Bormann said the recession and out-of-state businesses using roads without paying tax money both contribute to the county’s transportation problems.

Miller said restricted funds force the commission to complete roads in phases. She also said St. Charles Road is a good example of a partnership with the Missouri Department of Transportation to promote child safety.

Pounds said the biggest transportation problem is that the commission does not plan roads properly.

Economic development

Thompson said she supported the approach of using Chapter 100 revenue bonds to encourage business expansion in Boone County. She said the plan for enhanced enterprise zones is too broad for the community.

Bormann said tax incentives are the best way to attract businesses. Through shopping locally and keeping regulations reasonable, he said the county could thrive economically.

Miller said she is “very proud” of programs such as Chapter 100, which kept Analytical Bio-Chemistry Labs in the community, and she would like to apply the same system to enhanced enterprise zones, where every taxing entity must have a resolution supporting it before the commission will show its support. She doesn't agree with the boundaries currently identified for enhanced enterprise zones map.

Pounds said that taxes and overregulation are the root of Boone County’s lack of businesses, and therefore, economic development.

Home rule

Thompson said that because voters have rejected home rule twice, she does not support it. Without home rule, Boone County must seek authority from the General Assembly to pass specific ordinances. She said Boone County has strong enough representation in Jefferson City that home rule is unnecessary.*

Bormann said that he agrees with the home rule concept, but the last two charters were written poorly. If there was a better charter in the future, he said that he would support it.

In a previous Missourian article, Miller and Pounds voiced their approval for home rule as long as county voters support it. Home rule would allow the county to determine the structure of its own government and pass ordinances as long as they comply with state and federal law.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.


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