Choices in Clay, Platte county races
The Kansas City Star
A mixture of incumbents and challengers deserves to be elected to offices in Clay and Platte counties on Nov. 6.
Candidates who are more interested in providing effective use of tax dollars to residents rather than engaging in continued petty disputes at the courthouses deserve voter support.
The Star’s recommendations for one issue and selected races:
Proposition A: This is a good time to say “yes” to another effort to draw up a new constitution for the county. This proposition would allow the circuit court to appoint a 14-member commission. County voters have rejected a few previous bids to create a different form of government. However, the goals of a new charter remain worthy. For example, there’s no good reason to elect assessors and treasurers; they should be chosen for their professional abilities, not their political skills.
Eastern county commissioner: The credentials of neither candidate stand out. Democratic newcomer Sherry Duffett lacks a track record of solid service as a public official. Republican Luann Ridgeway does have a record, but it’s an extremely conservative one. As a state senator, she opposed stem-cell research and promoted public funds for private education. Ridgeway has the name recognition to win, but Duffett could learn on the job and be a more independent voice for residents.
Assessor: This is a nose-holder. The office of incumbent Cathy Rinehart, a Democrat, has been involved in two sexual-harassment cases that were settled at a cost of $650,000 since 2008. Still, in most respects Rinehart has capably performed the job since 1997. She is opposed by Republican Philip Wilson.
Auditor: There’s no doubt here: Incumbent Sheila Ernzen has provided top-notch service to Clay Countians and strongly deserves re-election. Ernzen, a Democrat, has returned some honor to the office after the forced exit in 2009 of former auditor Victor Hurlbert. Her opponent is Republican Michael Till.
Sheriff: Challenger Paul Vescovo, a Republican, served effectively in office after winning in 2000 by defeating Bob Boydston, who was known for his political meddling. Boydston returned to beat Vescovo in 2008. However, just weeks ago, Boydston had to fire four male deputies accused by a female deputy of sexual harassment. The county needs a more professional operation in the sheriff’s office.
Commissioner, District 2: Home builder Duane Soper brings valuable experience as a road district board member, which has given him insights into the county’s infrastructure needs. His opponent is Democrat Sharon Aring.
Assessor: Gov. Jay Nixon appointed David Christian to the job in 2011 after the death of assessor Lisa Pope. Christian, a Democrat, had a lengthy career as a manager of government affairs for a large Kansas City utility and is a former state representative. He is opposed by Republican David Cox.