NAACP Candidate Forum gives voters a chance to quiz candidates
At the 2010 NAACP Saline County Candidate Forum a crowd of more than 30 people heard the candidates discuss why they were running for office and what they hoped to accomplish if elected.
For the Presiding Commissioner race, Republican Tom Stallings was the only candidate in attendance. Vicky Simmerman represented Democrat Bob Stewart and Independent Robert Robinson was not present.
For the County Clerk race, Independent Marty Smith and Republican Jessica Thomas were in attendance. Democrat Debbie Russell sent Lorna Alexander to read her opening and closing statements. Russell had a prior commitment.
Candidates were first asked if they supported term limits for elected county officials. Jessica Thomas responded quickly and succinctly with a "yes." Marty Smith also supported term limits suggesting an eight to 10 year term limit. Simmerman declined to speak for Stewart on the subject. Stallings said he isn't sure term limits are necessary on the county level but he was open to hearing why people think they are necessary.
The second quest was for the commission candidates: What are the biggest challenges facing the county and what do you plan to do about them? Simmerman said communication between commissioner, other elected officials and the public is one of the biggest issues. She added that the knowing and following laws like the Sunshine law is also very important. Stallings said he considers the county budget to be the primary concern and county roads are near the top of the list.
"We should try to operate the county as efficiently as possible," he said.
The third question dealt with qualifications. Thomas said her history of working with the public and finding solutions as well as being a business owner qualified her. Smith pointed to his military experience and values.
Simmerman said Stewart was qualified in part because of his history as a reporter and experience with Fitzgibbon Hospital. Stallings pointed to his 36 years of experience as a businessman and his desire to give back to county.
Candidates were asked about whether or not a county website was a priority.
Smith said he thinks a website is very high priority.
"Communication is key," he said. "There is a total wealth of information that can be put on a website."
Thomas agreed with Smith saying the younger generation uses the internet to access information.
Simmerman said, "The World-wide Web is something that Saline county may be a little behind on. If you want to market your county, that's the way to go."
Stallings said he has looked at the information that other counties put online and it is probably time to put the county online.
The last question candidates faced was: Why are you running for county office?
Thomas said an obligation to duty was one of the reasons she was running for office. Smith said he wants to continue to serve and he feels he is capable of performing the tasks.
Simmerman said Stewart decided to running because it is his duty to actively make an effort to do what's right. Stallings said he wanted to get more involved in county governance.