Eastern commissioner race offers stark contrast

Democrat refuses interview, levels accusations at incumbent; Republican vows to tackle tough issues, seek cooperation

Ed Williams, Democratic candidate for Cole County Eastern District commissioner, declined to participate in election interviews conducted by the News Tribune.

Williams said in an e-mail that this was due to his belief the newspaper would not allow him to place advertisements about some issues he wanted to raise concerning his opponent, Republican incumbent Jeff Hoelscher.

The main issue is Williams’ contention that Hoelscher voted to hire his cousin, Jennifer Prenger, as county purchasing agent in October 2009.

“Voters can see through that like a piece of glass,” Williams said in the e-mail. “No relative of a commissioner should be hired for any job. No doubt the decision to hire her was made outside of an open meeting. Not everyone is so naive as to believe all decisions are made in public.”

The records of the meeting where Prenger was hired, kept by the county clerk’s office, show she was hired after a closed session to discuss personnel matters.

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Incumbent Republican Jeff Hoelscher said his conservative political views haven’t changed from when he first was elected to the office of Cole County Eastern District commissioner in 2008.

“It’s the same as when I ran the first time — my solid work ethic, involvement in the community and experience as a business owner and now, I have added four years of experience as well as the knowledge of serving on numerous associations, boards, commissions, committees, etc. including chairing or serving in other leadership capacities,” he said.

Hoelscher said he was not one to just sit back and complain about issues.

“That is easy to do,” he said. “What I will do is tackle the difficult issues. I will continue to gather citizen input and promote intergovernmental cooperation and work with other political entities to do what is best for the citizens of Cole County.”

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