Joanne Long is a Republican running for Bourbon County Clerk in the upcoming election. Here are a few interview questions with her answers.
1. Please tell readers a little bit about yourself and your background.
I’m the youngest of five children of a career Navy Master Chief. I grew up in New Orleans, but I’ve lived in Bourbon County for over half my life. Bob and Ruth Chambers, of Hiattville, were my grandparents, and Joe and Virginia Chambers are my uncle and aunt. My mother is retired and lives in Linn County with the rest of the Chambers clan. My father passed away in 1985. Other family in the state includes my sister, a niece and nephew, Piotrowski cousins in Bourbon County, Chambers cousins in Linn and Johnson Counties and Long cousins in northern and northwest Kansas. I was hired by Barbara Wood at the age of 20 and was trained to do every job and have held every position in the Clerk’s Office, voraciously learning everything that was ever offered to me, and when Barbara decided to retire in 2000, I ran for the office and have held it ever since. I love the many aspects of the job and that it’s not the same thing day in and day out. It keeps me learning with all the new laws and procedures that come from Washington, DC, and Topeka. It’s a challenge to keep up with the changes in law and the mandates from the Federal and State governments, but I welcome it.
2. Why are you running for office?
I love what I do. I feel that my 20 years with the office and my knowledge and experience in all aspects of the office make me the ideal County Clerk. The clerk’s office is an integral part of the County, as most of the business that happens at the courthouse comes through the office in one way or another. I feel my knowledge, experience, tenacity, willingness to learn and my capacity to adapt to change make me the best candidate for the job. I have seen many changes in my two decades in the clerk’s office and anticipate many more to come. Bourbon County deserves a clerk that can handle those challenges and will meet them head-on.
3. What do you feel is the single most important issue facing the county?
It’s kind of a simplistic answer to a complicated problem, but: the economy. If we had more businesses in the County, that would mean an increased workforce with the additional employees and possibly more population. Houses that are for sale would be sold and taken by these new families and they would increase the tax base and lower the tax burden on all the taxpayers in the County. That would allow the same, or more, to be done with less from each person and would help the community to prosper, while possibly lowering the mill levy.
4. Why do you think you are a better choice for voters than the incumbent? (If you are the incumbent, why do you think you are a better choice than others who are running?)
I have performed every job in the office; I am a Certified and Master County Clerk; I am a leader among clerks, as I am the current Vice-President and President-elect of the Kansas County Clerks’ and Election Officials’ Association, having been unanimously elected to both positions. I am technologically savvy; I am excellent with numbers; I have cut the office budget by 14.5%; stream-lined duties and eliminated waste. I have had a balanced budget every year of my tenure; I have saved the taxpayers over $35,000, since 2008, by programming the ballots myself.
My opponent’s experience in the clerk’s office was limited to accounts payable and payroll, as well as Homestead assistance and limited Fish and Game and Elections experience. However, she was unable to successfully complete payroll and accounts payable year-end without assistance from the programmers, at a cost of over $1,000 each year (Bourbon County has not required, nor paid for, programmer’s assistance for payroll or accounts payable, since her departure. In fact, we received a refund, in the amount of $1,198, for eliminating the maintenance on legacy software preferred by my opponent).
In addition, my opponent has never:
- Worked a Presidential Election
- Set a budget
- Calculated a mill levy
- Maintained the tax roll, including name/address changes, adds/abates/escapes and special assessments
- Taken Commission minutes or written a resolution
- Reconciled Motor Vehicle and the General Ledger
- Completed a tax abstract for real property or motor vehicle
- Maintained the County’s Inventory
- Reported bonded indebtedness to the State for all entities in the County
- Maintained Voter Registration or organized and directed poll workers for an election
- Designed/programmed or handled rotation of ballots
- Testified before the House and Senate to pass legislation
- Been appointed by the Secretary of State’s Office to lead a panel of Kansas County Clerks
- Verified a petition
- Reconciled checks
My opponent struggled with change and technology and lacked confidence in her work. A vote for Joanne Long ensures a balanced, lower budget, better service and more available information for and service to the taxpayers of Bourbon County.
5. What is the single most important skill you would bring to the office?
Twenty years of knowledge and experience.
6. If elected, what would your top priority be during your first 90 days?
The same as it is every year: I and my staff will continue to make sure all quarterly and annual reports are completed for the office; calculate, print, and file W2s and 1099s with the appropriate agencies; update tax tables for employee files, as needed; submit the tax unit boundary certification to the State, County Appraiser and every Utility in the County; compile and submit the annual Motor Vehicle Abstract to the State; ask departments to submit their inventory for the year; send reminders to Cereal Malt Beverage license holders for renewal and rental of duck blinds at Elm Creek Lake; publish the offices up for election in April 2013; handle the filings for those offices; compile the data for federal service ballots to be sent 45 days prior to the election; determine if a Primary is required and bill the appropriate entity; register voters; confirm election workers; create the ballots for each of the city and school districts; assist low income and elderly citizens with their Homestead/Food Sales Tax returns; offer Advance Voting for the Spring Election(s); file official signatures of all County Officials for the insurance company; as well as selling game licenses and taking minutes and anything else that comes up.
7. Health insurance is one of the fastest growing expenses the county is facing. What are some ways you’d recommend the county deal with this issue?
Currently we are in year one of a three-year contract with the State, so nothing can be done immediately. However, a wellness program, with incentives, could create a healthier workforce, which in turn, will offer a more appealing group for possible insurance carriers. Healthier employees translates to fewer claims, which could drive rates lower. Other possibilities include plans with a higher deductible for a lower premium or offering a Health Savings Account.
I thank you for this opportunity to share information with the voters of Bourbon County. I have been honored to serve the citizens of Bourbon County for over two decades, and I ask for your support and vote on August 7th.
Thank you again.
A Candidate Forum will be held on July 31 in the Theater of the Ellis Fine Arts Center on the Campus of Fort Scott Community College. Forum begins at 6 pm. Doors open at 5:30. The Public is encouraged to attend. This event is sponsored by the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce.
Be sure to vote on August 7!