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Local News

Barry County political debates, part one, County Commission

A debate by Barry County politician’s running for elected office filled the community room at the COA July 12 with potential voters. This part is on county commissioners, other segments are on the county clerk and drain commissioners.

 

Those running for offices that had contests, the county commission, drain commissioner and county clerk answered questions from moderator and host Fred Jacobs, CEO of J-Ad Graphics.

A brief introduction by the candidates was followed by questions from Jacobs and closing comments from each candidate. There would not be enough time for questions from the audience in the roughly two hour meeting, Jacobs said.

 

Incumbent Ben Geiger and Bob Vanderboegh are running in District 5, Dan Parker and Nick Wake are competing in District 2 and Incumbent Howard Gibson and Jerry Sarver are running in District 1. Wake and Gibson were not at the debate. Gibson suffered a fall last week and was unable to attend.

 

During introductions, Geiger said he’s a lifelong native of Hastings who wants to improve county government and streamline county on-line services. Opponent Vanderboegh points to a lifetime of experience in business, subdivision development and housing. He is on the county planning and housing commissions.

 

Parker has served on the commission for one term, was on the TK Board of education for 12 years, Middleville Planning Commission for eight and said he works well with a team approach.

Sarver has lived in Hastings for 50 years, was a Hastings police officer for 33 years, and chief for 25, before he retired and works part time in substance abuse prevention.

 

Asked about any issues with the commission, Sarver sees a shortfall in communication from the commission, and is concerned that TOST may not in the best interests of the people. Vanderboegh said his issue is the TOST regulation of the local health department, and the commissioners who approved it in 2007 violated the U.S. Constitution.

 

Geiger called for continuing to pay down the county’s pension debt, now at $15 million, and enhancing county on line services. Parker said commissioners have good guide lines to follow with its facilities plan, hired MSUE financial experts for budget advice during the recession, and now need to work with each other as a team.

 

All four agreed courthouse security is the number one priority, especially in light of the shooting death of two courtroom bailiffs in St. Joseph. //

 

Sarver, Vanderboegh and Parker questioned the just released pay and classification study, with Sarver and Parker asking if Barry County employees pay and classifications were compared to a like county. Sarver said the comparison should consider population, property values and SEV with others and this one did not.

 

Vanderboegh agreed with Sarver. Parker asked, “Is it a true comparison or is it not?” He said commissioners need to ask questions and get to the bottom of things before acting.

Geiger was on the committee working with the company that supplied the study. “It’s really two reports… it is just data for commissioners to contemplate and decide where we want to be,” he said.

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