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story.lead_photo.caption Michelle Brooks/For the News TribuneThe candidates for Moniteau County associate circuit judge — Ann Perry and Aaron Martin — shake hands after the candidate forum June 26.

More than 100 area residents turned out June 26 at the California Nutrition Center for a candidate forum, organized by the Moniteau County Farm Bureau and the Missouri Farm Bureau Political Action Committee.

Two Moniteau County seats — presiding commissioner and associate circuit judge — are contested.

Johnny Reichel and Mac Finley shared their backgrounds and goals, if elected presiding commissioner. Chris Floyd did not attend.

Finley attends Cowboy Campfire Church, is on the county central committee, and is active in the Missouri Sheep Producers and Show Me Stock Dog League. He's a Linn State Technical College graduate, former Missouri National Guardsman and a life member of the National Rifle Association. He is retired after working more than 30 years with the Missouri Department of Transportation.

His goals, if elected, would be to develop better efficiencies within the county government, particularly in roadway management and communications.

Reichel attends St. Martin Catholic Church and is a member of the Moniteau County Farm Bureau, the Moniteau County A&M Society, American Legion Post No. 5 and VFW Post No. 4345. He is a California High School graduate, a Vietnam War veteran and a life member of the NRA. He retired recently after working 50 years and more than 5 million miles driving trucks for Walmart.

He praised the improvements made recently to the courthouse and county maintenance equipment.

When asked about the results of the recent county audit, Finley said it will be important to work better with what the county has; and Reichel noted the budget is limited, but some changes could have been made.

The next question for the presiding commissioner candidates was regarding the potential of a concentrated animal feeding operation being located in Moniteau County.

Reichel said he was neither for or against the matter, since it is not currently a problem in the county.

"I'm a firm believer in keeping Moniteau County agriculture-based," he said.

Finley referred to the contested project proposed in Cooper County, noting the parent company, Pipestone, would have no liability regarding spreading of the waste.

"I recognize it is a problem, and tremendous discussion would be needed" if the matter were to come up in Moniteau County, he said.

Next, the candidates were asked about the county's future.

Reichel said he has been taking notes on issues important to other residents. He said he does not see the need for "drastic changes."

Finley said the limited budget, especially for road funding, should be looked at as roads and bridges age and will need maintenance work.

Both candidates agreed no tax increases were necessary.

The candidates for associate circuit judge — Ann Perry and Aaron Martin — were also introduced.

Perry is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia law school and has practiced civil and criminal law in Moniteau County since 1985. For the last 27 years she has served as city attorney and prosecuting attorney. She is a member of several organizations, including the Jaycees, Lions, California Area Chamber of Commerce, California Progress Inc., Friends of the Finke, Capital Region Medical Center board, Farm Bureau, Moniteau County Cattlemen's Association and the NRA, and is president of the Moniteau County Bar Association.

Martin graduated from Tipton High School, then Culver-Stockton College and University of Missouri-Columbia law school. He worked as a partner at a Versailles firm then opened his own practice with a fellow attorney in Jefferson City in 2006. He is a member of several civic organizations, including the Lions and Republican Club, and is a volunteer at his children's schools and a coach with the city parks and recreation program.

As sitting judge, Martin said his goal has been to treat each person respectfully and to provide a strong, fair and impartial court.

A question for both candidates addressed the shortage of court-appointed attorneys. Perry said Moniteau County does not have the same problem as other parts of the state, though the current sheriff's increased arrests may change that.

Martin, however, said local volunteer attorneys are feeling the burden, especially in civil cases and those involving children.

Moniteau County candidates uncontested on the primary ballot who attended were Shayne Healea, prosecuting attorney; Sarah Jones, treasurer; Ellen Ash, collector; Roberta Elliott, county clerk; and Mandy Burger, circuit clerk ex officio recorder of deeds.

State Rep. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, is unopposed in the Republican primary for the 6th District Senate seat. In the last eight years as a representative for Cole County's 59th House District, he said, he has been proud of decisions made against burdensome government and for small business.

Rick Pope spoke on behalf of Democrat candidate Bryan Struebig. Struebig faces Nicole Thompson and Mollie Freebairn in the Democratic primary for the Senate seat. Pope said Struebig is concerned about policies detrimental to farmers and disappearing rural communities.

Peter Pfeifer, candidate for U.S. Senate, was the only one of 11 candidates on the Republican primary ticket to attend the Moniteau County forum. He opposes Brian Hagg, Josh Hawley, Bradley Krembs, Tony Monetti, Kristi Nichols, Ken Patterson, Austin Petersen, Fred Ryman, Christina Smith and Courtland Sykes.

A former Brentwood city alderman and professional real estate negotiator, Pfeifer said he filed on the last day of eligibility because he did not see anyone on the ballot who represented him.

"It's very important that we participate" in government, Pfeifer said. "I think people are waking up; they're tired of what we've been served."

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