About 30 people attended the first of two forums sponsored by The Mar-Saline Branch of the NAACP and Saline County League of Women Voters.
The only contested race where both candidates were present was for Saline County treasurer. Democrat Ginger Brucks and Republican Marty Smith will be facing each other on the Nov. 6 ballot.
In the county's other contested race, Democrat Monte Fenner was in attendace, but his opponent, Republican Eric Rader, was unable to take part because of a work commitment.
Those candidates, along with Democrat Charlie Guthrie, who is running unopposed for Northern District commissioner, each gave short opening statements.
Moderators Eric Crump and Ken Lewellen read 14 written questions submitted by audience members. The candidates were given one minute to respond.
The opening question, addressed to Fenner, asked what other duties the commissioners perform other than overseeing roads and bridges.
"I feel like the main duty is the budget," Fenner said, describing some of the commission's other duties. "But roads and bridges are also very important."
Grothaus was asked about his qualifications for the sheriff's position.
"First of all I was a Missouri State Trooper. I was trained in all aspects of the criminal justice system," he said.
He also served as a criminal investigator for the Missouri Department of Revenue and was a reserve deputy sheriff for almost 30 years before resigning to run for office.
Smith and Brucks were asked to connect their prior work experiences with the duties of the treasurer's office.
Smith cited his work with contracts and sales.
"My military experience, working in the real estate industry, working with sales, that's how I tie that in and the reason I'm running for county treasurer," Smith said.
Brucks highlighted her work at the State Bank of Slater and other book keeping experience.
"I think my banking experience would help there," Brucks said. "I also kept financial records for Sam Jones Hardware, and I have observed in the treasurer's office the day to day procedures, so I feel like those things will help me in the treasurer's office."
The treasurer candidates were asked whether county funds should be invested in the county, or anyplace they could earn the most interest.
"Well, you'd like to keep it in the county if you can, but with the budget the way it is you need the money too," Smith said. "That's a tough answer. I would say go with what you can get. But would I like to keep it in the county, yes."
Brucks also answered the question.
"Unless it was an awful big difference, I'd say keep it in the county," Brucks said.
In closing comments, the candidates were given a chance to reiterate their qualifications for the offices.
Smith said he had the experience and qualifications to be the next county treasurer.
"I would like to encourage the voters to compare my qualifications and experience with my opponent," Smith said.
Brucks cited several of her personal attributes she hopes will sway voters.
"I am trust worthy, honest, accountable with a strong work ethic, and because of my passion for county government," she said.
Grothaus began his comments by thanking Sheriff Wally George for his 33 years of service but said he thinks improvements need to be made in the way the department operates.
Fenner, who was appointed southern district commissioner 15 months ago after Dick Hassler's retirement, said it has been a privilege to serve thus far.
He said his experience as a farmer and auctioneer for 40 years have helped with the duties of office.
"I really enjoy this job, I think I'm doing a good job. I hope you, the voting public, think I'm doing a good job," Fenner said. "I think there are some real good times coming up for our county. They are going to be exciting times and successful times and I would like to be a part of that."
Before the closing of the forum, Fenner presented information on the out-of-state use tax which will also be on the November ballot.
He noted the 1.625 percent tax on goods purchased out-of-state is not a new tax, but has been in place for more than 20 years.
However, it was struck down after a January Missouri Supreme Court Decision.
He pointed out without the tax in place; the county could lose up to $100,000 in funding.
The next forum will feature candidates seeking election as state representatives and state senators. It will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, in the Marshall Municipal Court building, 5 E. Eastwood St.