As a community service, in the coming weeks the Democrat will profile each of the candidates in contested races in the Aug. 5 primary election, starting with the two-way race on the Republican ticket for Pettis County Presiding Commissioner.
Two candidates will vie for that position, David Dick and Pam Carter.
David Dick is a lifelong resident of Pettis County. He is a graduate of Sacred Heart High School and attended State Fair Community College where he earned an associate of science in farm management. He went on to earn a bachelor’s of science in animal science from the University of Central Missouri.
He said he is a farmer by profession and the laundry list of organizations he belongs to confirms that to be true. He is a member of the Missouri Farm Bureau, the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, the Beef Industry Council, and the National Cattlemen’s Board.
He said his background in farm management has given him the needed skills to do the job as presiding commissioner.
“That AS in farm management, at the time you know it was 1982-83 through the farm crisis, and they really beat into our heads the fiscal side of what an ag business has to be, a farm. Which, kind of hadn’t been practiced up until that, so that was instilled in us and I’m thankful for that,” Dick said.
He said, however, most of his experience relative to the county commissioner position came during his time with the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, where he worked with annual budgets of more than $60 million.
“It’s the very same budgeting process that we go through here at the county level,” Dick said. “They come in, you have the line item authority, you can pick those things out and you have to make hard decisions because we did see the money retract while I was there. You have to prioritize what things are important long-term for the benefit of the entire program.”
What does Dick think are the biggest challenges Pettis County faces?
“As a commissioner it’s always going to be the roads,” he said. “Although I think the road tax has helped that tremendously. It’s been very successful, the public has responded to that, I’m not going to say (the roads) are perfect, but they are probably as good as they have been. There is always going to be work there.”
Law enforcement is also a concern to Dick. He said the sheriff’s office and the county courts must have the resources they need to protect and serve the public effectively.
“I think, as a citizen, they need more money because it’s a manpower issue,” Dick said. “I just think that’s the nature of that business. You have to manage that jail and you have to have road deputies. I’m sure there is a fine balance there and I’m sure they could use more money.”
Dick said he believes there is an issue with methamphetamine abuse in the county, which results in theft and other secondary crimes and he would see what resources are available to help law enforcement combat those issues.
“There is an issue with meth. Again, that goes back to what resources can we help the sheriff with to address that problem,” he said. “I know the prosecutor has been aggressive in pursuing that. I know the issue is there and we need to pursue that as vigorously as we can. How I can address that with the resources the county has, we will have to wait and see.”
The Pettis County Enhanced Enterprise Zones, which local officials said have added growth and jobs to the community, are something Dick would continue and possibly expand.
“I think they have been a pretty good tool,” Dick said. “We have seen a lot of success just here in the past 18 months. It is all about jobs and we want our citizens to be gainfully employed and earning as much as they possibly can in their chosen field. I think those areas, as they are designated, may change over time.”
Where does Dick stand on statewide issues? He supports one piece of legislation on the Aug. 5 ballot that is close to his area of expertise - Amendment 1, better known as the Right-to-Farm amendment.
“I think we’ve had a lot of outside groups that try to influence people in the wrong way and give them a negative mindset about agriculture,” Dick said. “Agriculture is the largest industry in Pettis County. It is a huge piece of the tax base, not that the industrial is not.
“I think there is a misinterpretation of what that (the Farm Bill) is. It does not excuse farmers from environmental laws or many of the other things that are law, it just grants them the right to farm and I think a lot of it is about regulating nuisance lawsuits. That’s probably the biggest advantage I would see in that long-term.”
Pam Carter is a life-long Missouri resident and has lived in Sedalia for more than 20 years.
While Carter left college to pursue a career in the insurance industry, she obtained a health and life license and successfully ran her own agency for several years. After that she entered the world of real estate sales and currently works in rental property.
She served on the Sedalia City Council from 2010 to 2012 and said she dealt with many of the same issues the presiding commissioner does, giving her the experience needed to serve as presiding commissioner.
“During that time, I dealt with a large budget, was vice chair of the public works and dealt with the roads and was on there when we had problems with the bridge and getting that repaired,” Carter said. “A lot of the things that have just been completed recently, I was originally on (the council), like the fire station.
“A lot of the same things the county does; roads, bridges, other elected officials employees, of course the sheriff’s department versus the city police department, so I thought it was a good fit. I have the experience.”
Carter also said roads and bridges are one of the most pressing problems for a county commissioner.
“People are always concerned about roads and bridges. Even with the city, that was always an issue,” she said. “The winters take a toll on the roads so there is constant repair, constant maintenance. You have rainy seasons that can, especially with the county roads, affect the roads. Trying to keep the drainage and the ditches cleaned out and that is something that really hits home with people.”
Her plan for maintenance and upgrade of the bridges includes working with the Missouri Department of Transportation through the Off-System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program (BRO), which allocates federal highway funds to Missouri counties.
“I would like to continue to work on the BRO program, finding the finances and getting the grant money for the repairs on the bridges,” Carter said. “I spoke with Larry Wilson, the past presiding commissioner quite a bit on that and he was really good about doing that. And the commissioners now are really good about doing that, so I think that’s something we need to continue.”
Another of her goals is to work with the sheriff’s office and other agencies in providing support for law enforcement and the county courts.
“The budget is the problem,” she said. “I know John Meehan made it to where they could have two more (deputies). When you look at the population of the county and the population of the city there is really not that much difference, now granted we are in more of a compact area and there may be more going on. But it is very difficult. You have more than 900 miles of county roads and it costs so much to jail these state prisoners.”
Her plan is to continue to work with state and federal agencies whenever possible to obtain grant funding and additional tools for law enforcement. She is also a supporter of drug education such as the DARE program.
“It’s a national problem. It’s hard to regulate bad behavior. All you can do is try to educate the public and get them help,” Carter said. “Of course the judges play their role, the prosecutors play their role, working with other agencies and trying to take advantage of grant money and those types of things.”
In statewide issues, as an advocate of better roads, Carter was asked for her position on Amendment 7, the three-fourth-cent sales tax increase for statewide transportation projects. She said any tax increase is better left to the people to decide.
“On taxes, I believe that the people should make that choice,” she said. “If the people feel like they are getting something for their dollars, they are more likely to pass it.”
Enhanced Enterprise Zones are something Carter favors as an economic motivator, as she has seen their effects during her time on the city council.
“I’ve seen it while I was on the city. It makes a difference,” Carter said. “You are getting more back than you are giving, you really are. A lot of times those people are spending that money at home and it’s going back into the community.”