County candidates talk elections

Contested and uncontested candidates vying for elected offices in Cole County had a chance to talk about why they were running and answer some questions about issues in their races during a candidate forum Friday morning.

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The Jefferson City Eastside Business Association sponsored the event at Central Bank’s Financial Center on Miller Street.

In the race for Eastern District Commissioner, Democrat Ed Williams said he was running because the current commission is not listening to the wishes of the people.

During the campaign, Williams has charged incumbent Republican Hoelscher with nepotism, saying he voted for his cousin, Jennifer Hoelscher Prenger, who was hired as the county’s purchasing agent.

Hoelscher denied that, saying he recused himself when it came time for that vote.

In the Western District commissioner’s race, Democrat Len Stella said he would use his 30 years of experience as a small-business owner to manage the budget process.

Republican Kris Scheperle said he would want to have things more “transparent” if he is elected.

Among the officeholders running unopposed, Treasurer Eric Peters noted in the past three years there have been no findings by auditors when they’ve looked over the operations of his office.

Sheriff Greg White, also running unopposed, was asked about what had changed in his department after a former jail clerk was found to have taken nearly $48,000 from two accounts she had administered.

“We now have up to four personnel who verify records, and it’s not requiring any additional manpower,” he said. “I had a former IRS agent go over the procedures we set up, and he thought we were OK.”

Assessor Chris Estes, running unopposed, said his office was preparing for the new reassessment process, which state law requires in odd-numbered years.

When asked how foreclosures affect his office’s determination of property values, Estes said they have no effect “at this time. We have to value homes at market value,” and so far, foreclosures don’t appear to have affected those values.

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