Bourbon County Candidates: Responses From the Forum

People begin to file into the Fort Scott High School auditorium for the Candidate Forum July 31

The  2018 Candidate Forum July 31 at Fort Scott High School lasted fours hours and featured 25 candidates from the national level to the county level. Tim McKenney was the moderator, Mark McCoy the timer. The event was sponsored by the Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce.

Four candidates are vying for Bourbon County Commission Dist. 1 and were allowed to respond to questions during the forum.

The current Bourbon County Attorney is running unopposed and was allowed a few minutes to give remarks.

Jackie Spradling is running unopposed for the Bourbon County Attorney position she has held since January.

Spradling has been a prosecutor for over 28 years, tried over 120 jury trials and 81 murder trials, she said.

“I stand proudly with Bill (Martin, Sheriff) and Travis (Shelton, Police Chief) and your law enforcement officers in fighting the crime in this community. We have filed more cases so far this year than was filed all of last year.  We have also filed more Child In Need Of Care cases so far this year than all of last year. We are trying to hold offenders accountable, protect people who have been victims of crime and take care of the babies and kids who can’t take care of themselves.”

The following are the questions posed to the Bourbon County Commission District 1 candidates and excerpts of their responses.

Opening remarks:

Lynn Oharah is 70-years-old,  has a wife and two daughters. He is a  veteran, retired from ATT as a manager, was the state representative for two years, USD 235 Board of Education member for 10 years and the current District 1 Commissioner two years. Management experience is what he has to offer in the position.

Clinton Walker is married, has two children and spent 22 years in the military, where he learned to manage people, budget, equipment, facilities, and buildings. “I think that I can make a difference and save taxpayer money,” Walker said.

Matt Crystal served in the military 25 years and moved back to help on the family farm. “Leadership, budgeting, construction is what he brings to the table,” Crystal said.

Robert Query is a  rancher and heavy equipment business owner. He served eight years as county commissioner. “I know how to do more, spend less,” Query said.

The candidates answered questions previously submitted to the Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce.

Question 1: The Bourbon County Jail was approved by voters with a cost of approximately 6.4 million dollars, the price has now increased. How do you make sure projects stay on track and not go over budget?

Walker: “You’ve got to be involved in that project. Staying on a budget that’s not hard to do. If you don’t have the money, you don’t buy it…you don’t put it on credit card. ”

Crystal: “You have to stay involved as commissioners. More involved with a contractor that was going to oversee the entire project, so they could stay on track and stay on budget.”

Query: “Involvement with it from day one, when it was going out for bids, I was not for the jail in the first place. We are going to have to be responsible out there to look at every bill… and work with Bill (Sheriff Martin).”

Oharah: “Unforeseen material and labors costs went way up, but we stayed within the parameters of the question on the ballot.” If we didn’t build the jail we would be spending over $300,000 this year to house our prisoners, a total waste of taxpayer money.”

Question 2: Some counties are hiring a manager to handle the daily operations, do you think it makes sense to hire a county manager and then use non-paid elected commissioners to oversee his performance?

Crystal: “I can see some efficiencies in it, however, that’s what the commission is doing and that’s the commission’s job. You can’t manage the county one day a week, you have to be out there to see what else is going on. I don’t think the county could afford to pay a salary that the commission was elected to do.”

Query: “It would be another big salary, we already have too  many of those big salary employees at this time.”

Oharah: “I’m not in favor of a county manager. It’s the job of the county commissioners to oversee what is going on. I don’t take benefits from the county. I spend two and a half days a week looking at the county. The equipment we’ve bought has been a benefit to the county.”

Walker: “No it doesn’t make any sense to hire a manager. Lead from the front. I’ll be that leader.”

Question 3: How can you foster economic development in Bourbon County?

Query: “We had strategic planning to meet with us (when he formerly served on the Bourbon County Commission). I think it needs to be put back. The programs at the college are teaching welding and carpentry work and that can create jobs in this deal and that will help with economic development.”

Oharah: “Bourbon County is slated to lose population. We are putting the final touches on our Neighborhood Revitalization Plan. Which is going to give tax refunds for qualified construction projects for new and remodels on homes and farms and  businesses.”

Walker: “First,  stop buying new equipment, second, internet service we need to have that because you can’t have entrepreneurs come into the county without broadband.”

Crystal: “Airport expansion, could bring in a business. We can’t get people here fast enough. We need new blood, we need new thoughts and fresh ideas.”

Closing remarks by the candidates:

Oharah: “Reduce taxes through economic growth. We have implemented programs that should draw growth. We are Christian, pro-life, 2nd amendment supporters. Why run? I have a passion to see Bourbon County succeed and grow.”

Walker: “Number 1, debt. We don’t maintain vehicles. (in the county).We need to have a good maintenance program for this county. Buy with cash, I don’t want to pass this debt on to the next generation. I’ll manage personnel and equipment.”

Crystal: ” I want to serve my community. I’ll use my  25 years in the military, use that leadership expertise in order to improve  the services in the county.”

Query: ” Eight years experience is needed in the county.  We need to quit buying more than we can pay for. Bottom line, live within your means, we are the ones who pick up the tab.”











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