Associate Circuit Judge

Brandi Baird (D)

My husband Brandon and I, along with our two boys, are blessed to live on our family farm here in Dent County where my family has lived for over 100 years. Our boys go to Dent County public schools, and we are long-standing members of our church in Salem. I am also an active member of the NRA, Farm Bureau, Dent County Cattlemen’s Association and am endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police. Brandon is a member of the Salem Rotary Club. We are invested in this community; it is our home and I am seeking to be re-elected as our Associate Circuit Judge to continue to make our community a better place to live.

I went to law school here in Missouri, graduating from University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law in 2000. During my last year in law school, I practiced under Rule 13 certification as Assistant Prosecutor for Kansas City. This gave me valuable courtroom experience and several jury trials before graduating from law school. After law school my husband and I returned to Dent County to open a private practice focused on civil, probate, criminal domestic and estate planning law.

In 2009, I was encouraged to take over as Dent County Prosecuting Attorney when the prior prosecutor was removed from office and the office was in disarray. Over the next two years, I transformed the office, filing cases that had failed to be previously filed, and reestablishing relationships with law enforcement, victims and witnesses and the community.

In 2011 I was honored to take the bench as Dent County Associate Circuit Judge. I take the same no-nonsense approach to the job: we treat people fairly and with respect, we protect our citizens and we take the job seriously. I am seeking re-election because we have important work still to do.

Why should you be elected?

I believe I am the most qualified candidate for Dent County Associate Circuit Judge for two reasons: my background in Dent County and my work experience both on and off the bench.

I have been very fortunate. My family has been a part of Dent County for over 100 years. My husband and I have been active in our community, our boys go to local public schools and we are active in our church. Crime that hits our community also impacts us, and as such I believe I have a responsibility to give something back to a community that has given my family so much.

Prior to taking the bench, I served as the Dent County Prosecuting Attorney. I got to see first-hand the impact crime had on our community and that our citizens wanted public servants who would listen to their needs. I cleaned up the office of prosecutor, managed the budget in a way to maximize our limited tax dollars and brought cases that deserved prosecution.

As the Dent County Associate Circuit Judge, I have worked hard to earn a track record of being fair, consistent and impartial. As such, I have been twice recognized by the Missouri Supreme Court for administration of justice while on the bench. Recently I was also honored to be endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police for “working hard to see that justice is carried out in a fair manner while keeping the best interests and safety of the citizens in mind.”

During my tenure on the bench I have gained invaluable knowledge required for the position, from completing over 250 hours of judicial training course and handling over 500 cases each month.      

What do you see as the most important responsibilities of this position?

The judges and the position of associate circuit judge are responsible for maintaining integrity for the judicial process. To maintain the integrity of the court, judges must be fair, consistent and impartial. Our system of justice depends on judges applying the law and not imposing personal beliefs in the courtroom. I have worked hard to ensure that our citizens are treated fairly and evenly in the courtroom and have established an environment where everyone is treated the same regardless of background.

As Dent County Associate Circuit Judge, one of the little-known responsibilities of the position is being accessible after-hours.  I am from Dent County and live in the county. The Associate Judge is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week for search warrants, mental health orders, arrest warrants and emergency ex partes, not to mention other needs that arise regarding inmates, probationers, etc., outside of office hours. Accessibility is an important responsibility of the position. Without accessibility to the associate circuit judge, there is a breakdown after hours between the public and court, thereby a breakdown in the integrity of the court.

Give some specifics of the role judges should play in the battle against illegal drugs in the community? 

Historically, individuals who committed drug crimes often bonded out of jail with no conditions, only to commit other crimes or to continue to feed their drug habits. As the Dent County Associate Circuit Judge, we changed so that bonded individuals had to get regularly tested for illegal drugs. Since the addition of drug testing as a bond condition, the incidents of additional drug charges and the charges for additional crimes while out on bond have both decreased significantly. Simply put, this makes our community safer.

Another role the Associate Circuit Judge can play is through the treatment court. Recently the associate circuit judge has been put in charge of the treatment court in each individual county. This important change will give the judge a unique opportunity to play a proactive role in drug education and community involvement. As judge over the treatment court, I plan to meet with church and school leaders to begin more drug education to the community and to discuss options for reducing drug usage before it leads to more serious crimes.

Nathan Kelsaw (R)

 I am 35 years old and have lived in Salem with my wife and daughter for over three years. I am a life-long resident of Missouri. For undergrad, I attended Southwest Missouri State University where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology in 2005. After college, I worked for the Division of Youth Services as a Youth Specialist helping troubled youth get their lives on track. I graduated from Saint Louis University School of Law in 2010 and obtained my Missouri law license that same year.

I am a go-getter and immediately began handling cases. In 2011, I moved to Rolla to work as a public defender. As a public defender, I handled all aspects of criminal cases including motion hearings, preliminary hearings, suppression hearings and assisted in jury trials.

In 2012, I met my future wife in the courtroom and decided to join her in private practice. In late 2012, I joined her firm, Michele Marxkors, Attorney at Law, now known as Marxkors & Kelsaw. We serve clients in Dent and surrounding counties. As a private attorney, I have handled cases in criminal, domestic relations, real estate, probate, administrative, landlord/tenant, estate planning and general civil litigation.

In 2015, I joined the Dent County Prosecutor’s Office as assistant prosecutor. The position has allowed me to hone my litigation skills while helping the people of Dent County. I have assisted in cases ranging from drugs to murder. In 2017, I joined Texas County as their assistant prosecutor as well. As a private attorney and prosecutor, I have handled well over a thousand cases and have litigated numerous bench and jury trials.

Why should you be elected?

My professional experience as a lawyer and life experience as a husband and father give me the ability to make the tough decisions as Judge. I have litigated a variety of cases as a lawyer. In fact, every type of case an Associate Circuit Judge hears, I have litigated. I have also tried cases in font of juries and judges. I believe this kind of experience is essential for a judge. Trial attorneys and judges alike, must think quickly on their feet and I believe I have developed that skill through my practice.

However, there is more to being a good judge than just knowing the law and being able to think quickly. A good judge has to draw from life experiences as well. As a father, husband and proud citizen, I would use my life experience to make wise decisions in the courtroom. Thus, I would decide each case by using my professional experience and life experiences while always following the laws of the United States and Missouri.

What do you see as the most important responsibilities of this position?

A judge is to remain fair and impartial. As Dent County Associate Circuit Judge, my job first and foremost would be to hear each case by listening carefully to the facts presented by each party and then faithfully apply the U.S. Constitution, Missouri Constitution and laws of Missouri to each case. Our judges must also ensure trust in the position. Judges must assist the people to solve conflicts, protect rights, punish the deserving and provide finality to all participants in the Courts in an efficient manner. A judge should be respectful at all times, and keep in mind that the Court belongs to the people, not the judge. The overarching role is to serve the people of Dent County. I can assure you that I would take that responsibility very seriously and would greatly appreciate the honor to serve the people of Dent County.

Give some specifics of the role judges should play in the battle against illegal drugs in the community?

Judges play a crucial role in battling drugs in the community. As a parent, I am horrified by the problems and risks that illegal drugs pose to our children. As a judge, I would carefully consider the decisions placed in front of me related to illegal drug to ensure that our laws are being applied in a way that protects the youngest members of our community.

A judge can help addicts work toward sobriety through supervising them on probation, making sure they attend treatment and helping them make appropriate life decisions. A judge should want to help an addict get his or her life back on track for the sake of the addict and society. However, the addict must want to be sober and ultimately there is only so much a judge can do if a person is not serious about sobriety. If an addict is not serious, a judge will ultimately have no other choice but to remove the addict from society to protect our community and the addict.

Manufacturers, distributors and sellers of illegal drugs can be a different story. Each case should be examined individually, but if the facts of the case suggest a person is just a predator of the addict, that person’s punishment should not mirror that of the addict. Judges have the ability to work within the range of punishment laid out by the legislature and a judge should be willing to be tough when the circumstances call for it. Drugs in the community are a serious problem. Brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and many other loved ones are dying because of the drugs that are being distributed in our community. Therefore, punishments for distributing these drugs should be severe when the facts suggest so. Hopefully, this will make a seller think twice.

Circuit Judge

 Scott Bernstein (R) 

I was born and raised in Missouri where my family has lived for four generations. I am 57 years old and live on a cattle farm on the beautiful Huzzah creek. The people of Crawford County have been very good to me, and I try to repay that kindness though my service to the community as a volunteer firefighter and an EMT.

I earned a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Missouri - Columbia. During college I was diagnosed with cancer and faced the biggest challenge of my life. The incredible support of my family and friends help me win that battle. That experience taught me to stay focused on what is important and to use my time to make a positive impact on those around me.

I also hold an MBA from the College of William and Mary and a law degree from St. Louis University – graduating with honors. Clerked at the Missouri Court of Appeals and Federal District Court. After working at a large law firm, I opened my own practice. I worked for over eight years as assistant prosecutor and 12 years as Associate Judge in Crawford County. Currently, I manage the largest case volume in our judicial circuit.

My judicial philosophy is to handle cases in a quick, accurate and polite manner. I have a proven record for handling a lot of cases, over 60,000, which are rarely appealed. With your support, I can continue serving as Circuit Judge.

Why should you be elected?

The voters in Southeast Missouri want someone with experience and dedication to be their judge. I have 12 years’ experience as judge and eight years more as a prosecutor.  I have spent the past 20 years dedicating myself to the people of our region, making sure that justice is administered fairly to all, regardless of their wealth or background.

With a proven track record of competence in criminal, civil, domestic and probate law; capacity to handle large caseloads, proven history of careful and accurate decisions, documented record of managing a court under budget; and creative skills and techniques in bringing people together to settle cases by mutual agreement, I am ready to serve as Circuit Judge on day one.

What do you see as the most important responsibilities of this position?

The power entrusted to a Circuit Judge carries huge responsibility. The best judges traditionally are former prosecutors.  There is no replacement for that experience.  The stakes are too high.  Make a mistake and a murderer goes free.

Upholding the Constitution and the rule of law; ensuring our court respects the rights of those it serves; promoting efficient management of caseload and office resources; serving the public, not special interests; and maintaining honestly and integrity at all times.

Experience in treating people professionally and respectfully, being firm, fair and consistent.  I listen carefully to the evidence presented; apply the law fairly and accurately. I do not consider matters such as someone’s reputation or background – only the facts of the case matter. Every decision is carefully considered. Everyone in my court receives a full and fair hearing.

 Give some specifics of the role judges should play in the battle against illegal drugs in the community?

Felony drug offenders are not being supervised.  I was the first judge in the area to require weekly drug testing as a condition of bond in felony drug cases.  The Drug Court Commissioner currently handles at most 25 Dent County cases. My typical case load is over 6,000. Under my direction, the Commissioner’s case load will be significantly increased and felony drug offenders will receive intensive supervision, weekly drug testing and full-time work requirements.

The current jury system isn’t working. Far too many cases clog up the system, meaning that defendants can play the system to avoid justice.  I would re-work the jury system solving two problems: unclog the docket and relieve the burden on jurors and their employers. My plan is for jurors to select their own time (one week only) to serve, ending the current 6 month, on-call “surprise” system. It is unreasonable and totally inconsiderate to call up and then cancel trials with little or no notice. I clerked for a federal district court judge and would adopt his system.  The end result is unclogging the docket, getting cases to trial faster, and treating jurors’ lives with respect. The court serves the people, not the other way around.

Finally, child abuse cases are now not being heard immediately.  This is dangerous. There is also the burden and expense of amending or modifying divorce judgments, of which there are hundreds.  If elected, I would rectify these problems. I have the education and proven 12 years’ experience as a judge to bring efficiency to our circuit.

Glenn Hall (R)

 I am 62 years old, have walked with Jesus as a Bible-believing Christian for 42 years and have been married for 40 years to my wife, Mary. We have five successful children, two of which are married, and nine lovely grandchildren. I continue to work at my law firm in Salem and also manage and work a small cattle ranch in Dent County with my youngest son, Justice, on the property where we have lived since 2001.

I have managed my own solo law practice since becoming an attorney in 1989. During those years I prepared and conducted many judge and jury tried cases. My law practice mainly consists of estate planning, civil trial, criminal law and family law cases.

During the 1990s while I lived in Jackson County, Missouri, I served three terms in the Missouri Legislature. During that time, I worked to enact laws that strengthened Missouri families and which enacted tougher penalties on sex-related crimes, especially crimes against children. For example, I drafted, and the legislature ultimately passed, my law to prevent the release of sexual predators under the 120 day call-back provision.

I believe that God raised up Donald Trump and others with a similar vision to restore the ancient foundations of law, justice, and order to our nation. As judge I will always keep the following Scripture in mind, “Let justice roll on like a river, and righteousness like an everlasting stream!” (Amos 5:24)

Why should you be elected?

I believe that the most important qualification for a good judge is that he has a proven moral character which cannot be corrupted by temptation or greed. A good judge must not accept a bribe and must not be beholden to any person, group or political party. A good judge must base his decisions upon the law and the facts of each case and must possess personal qualities that allow him to discern the truthfulness of witnesses. I possess all of these qualities.

In addition, a good judge should have practiced law for a reasonable amount of time so that he knows the things that a judge is required to do on a daily basis. Having practiced law is essential because to do so one must know the law and be able to apply the law to particular facts.

It is also important that a judge have actual trial experience before becoming a judge. A new judge without jury trial experience could easily become overwhelmed. I have conducted quite a few criminal and civil jury trials and many judge-tried family law cases over my 29-year career.

A good judge should also understand both mercy and judgment. It is simply a fact that not all criminal defendants are guilty of the charged crime. I have, for example, won two jury-tried rape cases. During the trial of the first case the complaining victim was proved to have lied in her testimony. One year after the second rape trial the mother of the alleged nine-year old victim confessed to coaching her to lie about the rape. Fortunately, the jury made the right decision in both cases. I believe that people truly guilty of committing horrible crimes should be punished to the full extent of the law. I believe that many people guilty of lesser crimes who have a change of heart should receive mercy and be allowed to become productive citizens.

What do you see as the most important responsibilities of this position?

The most important aspect of being a judge is to fairly and impartially decide cases that come before him. I have personally been the victim of very partial judging and I do not like it. No one does. I am a Republican and I believe that much of the bias against me or my client has occurred because I belonged to the wrong political party. Once, for example, in a different circuit, I objected to the judge’s conduct in a contested custody trial. The judge responded, “Mr. Hall do you want to spend the night in jail.” I answered, “No, but I have never seen a judge act in such a biased way.” The judge did not throw me in jail, but he ended up making a very unfair decision at the conclusion of the matter. Both the judge and the opposing attorney were good friends, were Democrats, and were very involved together in the local bar.

I plan to never take judicial actions against attorneys or parties because of their political affiliation or because I like one attorney better than another. I plan to judge each contested case upon the law and the facts and I intend to issue judgments based upon the law, fairness, equity, and justice.

It is also extremely important for a judge to possess discernment. It is simply a fact that many witnesses in contested cases lie under oath. I remember that early in my career a fellow lawyer said, “The only problem with Attorney Hall is that he believes his clients!” I think that most of us are prone to believe what others tell us. We do not expect someone to lie to us. In contested cases I will therefore carefully listen to witness testimony, make appropriate notes, watch for inconsistencies, and diligently attempt to discern the truthfulness of each witness’s testimony.

Give some specifics of the role judges should play in the battle against illegal drugs in the community?

First, I want to say that I applaud the work that Dent County Prosecutor Andrew Curley has done with respect to the battle against illegal drugs in Dent County. I fully support his decision not to prosecute those who call for help in life-threatening situations. A person’s life is more important than getting a felony drug conviction. Second, I appreciate Mr. Curley’s attempt to not make every possessor of illegal drugs into a criminal felon. I have seen Mr. Curley make the right decision many times to offer a deferred prosecution for particular drug offenses or to make another type of plea offer that does not ruin a person’s life.

I believe that the urge to use illegal drugs often begins in high school or even before. As judge I would like to address students in school settings. There I would inform them of the dangers of drugs, the ease of becoming addicted to drugs, and the potential ruination of their life because of drug use. We really need to attempt to stop drug use before it even begins.

Finally, I believe that drug pushers need to be convicted to the full extent of the law. I do not consider a person who sells small quantities of marijuana to be a drug pusher. I do consider sellers of heroin, methamphetamine and prescription opioids to be drug pushers. These drugs create addicts quickly and ruin lives quickly. I do not expect to approve any suspended imposition of sentence plea bargains in drug pusher cases. Pushers need to be removed from our community, and a Missouri prison would be the best place for them to go.

Thank you for your consideration to elect me as your next Circuit Judge.

Sid Pearson (D)

I am 65 years old.  I grew up in the neighboring area of St. James and went to high school there.  I attended one year of college at University of Missouri at Rolla before entering the military by enlisting in the U.S. Air Force.  I am a Vietnam Veteran.  I served in Vietnam primarily at Phu Cat and DaNang with the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing.  After my tour in Vietnam, I served two additional Southeast Asia Tours in Thailand at Tahkli and Ubon.

After my military service, I used the Montgomery G.I. Bill to attend college.  My Bachelor’s Degree is in Psychology from the Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly UMR).  After receiving my undergraduate degree, I did graduate work in Clinical Psychology for a year at University of Missouri—Columbia before entering Law School at UMC. 

I received my Juris Doctor Degree in 1981 and began a private law practice which continued for seven years.  I worked for three years as Executive Director of Meramec Area Legal Aid Corporation in Rolla, providing free legal services to indigent and elderly clients in 12 counties in South-Central Missouri, including all five counties in the 42nd Judicial Circuit.

I served as a Prosecuting Attorney for a total of 19 years— five years as Assistant Prosecutor in Crawford County, 12 years as Crawford County’s elected Prosecutor, and two years as the Dent County Prosecutor.

I was elected as 42nd Circuit Judge in November 2012 and have served in that position from January 2013 to the present.  I was unanimously elected by the other judges in the 42nd Circuit to serve as Presiding Judge of the Circuit in 2017 and again in 2018.

Why should you be elected?

The most important thing I bring to the job is experience. My years in private practice and with Legal Aid gave me a firm grounding in a wide variety of civil law and my 19 years as a Prosecutor, including over 250 jury trials, ensured that I have seen most factual situations multiple times. I have had the opportunity to see how problematic situations were handled by some of the best trial judges in the state. Law School teaches the fundamentals of the law, but only extensive courtroom experience can instill the tools necessary to be a good judge. The 42nd Circuit has a history of great judges. I learned to practice law before men like Judge Steelman, Judge Seay, Judge Price, Judge Howald, Judge Wilkerson, Judge Schuller, Judge Ball and Judge Lamb. Every one of them taught me something. 

I have now had almost six years on the bench, and I am a better judge now than when I started. However, I still do not know all there is to know about being a judge. I still learn something every time I try a case.  Continuing education is imperative for every judge.  Two years ago, I was selected by the Missouri Supreme Court to receive training from the National Courts and Science Institute as a Science and Technology Resource Judge. Since that time, I have undergone training in Molecular Forensics at the National Laboratory in Colorado, and training in the science of genetics at St. Louis University Law School and at the University of North Carolina Medical School. I am presently scheduled to attend additional training in science and technology legal issues at the Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. in August. 

What do you see as the most important responsibilities of this position?

The most important responsibility of being a judge is to remember what the function of judge is, and what it is not.  A judge does not legislate. Our government is divided into three branches for a reason. A judge does not make law.  He only interprets it and applies it to the facts of a case.  The U.S. Constitution and the Missouri Constitution were made by the people and are the supreme law of the land.  The laws are made by the legislature, and subject to the constraints of the Constitution, are the law of the land.  A judge’s job is to receive the evidence presented to him, determine after hearing that evidence what the true facts of a case are and then apply the law as determined by the Constitution and the statutes and interpreted by the appellate courts, to the facts. Sometimes the result does not necessarily fit the personal opinions of the judge.  The personal opinions of the judge are not important and should never be a factor in what decision is made.  A judge must always follow the law and should apply it equally to everyone who comes before him. “Equal justice under the Law” is not just a platitude, but should be the guiding light of every judge, in every case.

Give some specifics of the role judges should play in the battle against illegal drugs in the community? 

The ever-increasing use of illegal drugs has been the bane of our society for many years. Drug use plays into a large majority of the criminal cases that come before the bench, either directly or indirectly.  Simply punishing drug offenders by sending them to prison is not the answer, although in some cases, it is the only remedy left to the judge. Treatment and education must play a large part in dealing with these cases.  The 42nd Circuit has now instituted an Alternative Court Program (often referred to as Drug Court) and has been able to add an Alternative Court Commissioner to the judicial staff that deals only with drug or drug-related cases, after adjudication by one of the two Circuit Judges. This program involves very intensive treatment protocols and supervision, and also helps to deal with some of the common underlying issues of drug addiction such as unemployment and self-respect. In many cases, Drug Court has shown some degree of success with cases that would have before resulted in prison time and started a cycle of recidivism. 

Any probation on a drug case should involve conditions that include intensive treatment whether the defendant is referred to the Drug Court Program or not. More and more, prosecutors are recommending conditions of probation that involve not just conventional treatment, but also the emerging use of medical therapies to assist in overcoming addiction.

Even when prison becomes necessary, the courts have alternatives to incarceration in the general population in the prison. The courts can order that defendants be committed to special treatment centers within the prison, where they can receive treatment rather than simply be warehoused.

No judge has a complete solution to the drug problem.  But there are alternatives that can be used that may result in a significant reduction in recidivism in drug-related offenses, and I am a firm believer in using these strategies when appropriate.         

Megan Seay (R)

I am 38 years old. I am a candidate for Division I – 42nd Judicial Circuit Judge of Missouri. This circuit includes the counties of Crawford, Dent, Iron, Reynolds and Wayne.

I am married to A.J. Seay, a life-long resident of Salem, and together we have two children, Kolson, 16, and Zoey, 4. We are honored to tell the story of our daughter Zoey's adoption, hoping it will encourage other families to consider fostering and adopting themselves.

I am the daughter of Ronald and Edna Seufert who are also residents of Salem. I consider myself very fortunate to have such supportive parents and family in the Salem area to provide loving care for our daughter while A.J. and I are on the campaign trail.

I am a graduate of Smithville High School. I am a very proud recipient of the American FFA Degree. I attended undergraduate college at the University of Missouri – Columbia, where I graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Following my undergraduate degree, I attended law school at the University of Missouri – Columbia where I earned my Juris Doctorate.

I have been in private law practice for 13 years. My current practice covers various areas of the law including: dissolution, custody, child support, adoption, probate, real estate, estate planning, criminal law and general civil litigation.

I began private practice as an associate attorney at Hendren & Andrae, L.L.C., in Jefferson City. I then relocated to the Rolla area and practiced as an associate attorney at Williams, Robinson, Rigler & Buschjost, P.C. When I married A.J. I became a solo practitioner in Salem.

 Why should you be elected?

I believe my experience in various types of law, a strong work ethic and Christian values make me a good candidate for Circuit Judge. The values I share are the focus of the position I am seeking, and I will bring new ideas and perspectives to the judiciary.

Our Circuit Judges currently handle felony criminal matters, dissolutions, custody actions, paternity actions, child support matters, along with various other types of matters. Being in private practice for over a decade has allowed me to diversify the types of cases I can handle. A typical county law day for our Circuit Judges can encompass handling multiple types of legal matters on the same docket and in the same day. It is important that a Circuit Judge can quickly and smoothly transition from one type of law to the next.

I am well-versed in the technology necessary to efficiently and effectively perform the daily duties of a Circuit Judge. Judges are often required to do their own legal research in a very short time frame. I have done legal research on the internet since I began law school. I have navigated Missouri's electronic filing system since its inception in our circuit. This will allow me to make a seamless transition to the bench.

Finally, being a small business owner has made me a hard worker. If I don't show up for work my clients and their families may suffer. It is the same for a Circuit Judge. If you choose to take a day off as a judge, families are waiting even longer for finality on their cases. I believe the people of our circuit want to know that our Circuit Judges are working just as hard as they are every day.

What do you see as the most important responsibilities of this position?

Taking care of our families. It is a very simple and concise answer. I am very passionate about the values that my fellow rural Missourians hold dear. Through private law practice I have seen first hand the devastation that drugs and crime are having on our families. As Circuit Judge, I will be dedicated to keeping our families safe. A.J. and I choose to raise our children in this area. There are so many wonderful things this area has to offer our families, but we must be diligent when it comes to drugs and crime so that it does not further effect our children. These are not other people's children. These are the friends and relatives of our sons and daughters.

Take heroin addiction for example; it has a very unique, terrible, quality to it. Heroin addiction does not affect one specific socio-economic class. It does not affect one specific race or gender. It does not affect one specific age group. It does not affect the less educated any greater than the highly educated. In the State of Missouri, “death rates from accidental drug overdoses...increased by 585 percent between 1995 and 2014.” (Quote from a study performed by the Missouri Foundation for Health). We must do something about this epidemic.

As Circuit Judge you have a direct hand in determining how drug usage and addiction is going to continue to affect our families. Judges must make these determinations on a case-by-case basis, but I think it is important that the judge keep in mind how their decision will affect our families, our communities and our children. Decisions like these cannot be made in a vacuum. I am committed to doing my part as Circuit Judge to help with this epidemic.

 Give some specifics of the role judges should play in the battle against illegal drugs in the community?

 Circuit Judges have the ability to place bond conditions on a person charged with drug-related crimes. One bond condition is requiring drug testing of those who are on bond for a drug-related crime.  If drug testing is not required of a person on bond for a drug-related crime, how is the judge to know if they are competent when they plead guilty to a crime? If the person charged has not submitted to drug testing, they might be pleading guilty while under the influence of drugs. If that is the case, the person that pleads guilty could later demand that their plea be set aside because they were not competent at the time. What if that offender’s plea was set aside allowing them to distribute drugs again? What if that drug was a batch of heroin that could cause an immediate overdose?

We are fortunate to have a drug court in the 42nd Judicial Circuit. Since I filed for election, I have had the opportunity to view Drug Court on two separate occasions. Drug Courts are equipped to help people who have committed drug-related crimes. Drug Courts can also help participants take care of their family needs along the way. The goal is to treat the participant in all aspects of their life. To help them withdraw from the drug. To help them understand what is causing them to use. To help them stay clean and sober. To help them get a job. To help them access family resources like counseling, parenting classes and classes that help with life-skills. Circuit Judges have the ability to order certain offenders to participate in Drug Court. As Circuit Judge I will access this resource on a case-by-case basis when I see that it can help a family.

County Collector

Nancy Inman (R)

I was born at Heart Hospital in Salem and have lived my entire life in Dent County.

I am the daughter of Charles Roy and Leona Haas Walker, the granddaughter of Ferdinand J. Haas (Ferdie Haas) and am married to Brian Inman, the son of Joe (Monk) and Velma Shults Inman. We have three daughters and four grandchildren.

We have hosted over 12 high school exchange students from around the world. All have come from big cities and have come to love our small town. They all keep in touch, and many have come back to visit. We will host another starting in August. We own Lone Pine Arena, along with our farm in northern Dent County. We have hosted horse shows on the second Friday night of the month, and we enjoy helping kids and adults learn the love of horses in our community.

Why should you be elected? 

I have experience in management, banking, customer service and a degree in accounting. I have worked with the public all my life with a happy-go-lucky attitude. It started at Salem Sportswear in 1981 when I was secretary to the shipping clerk, and sometimes working two jobs at a time. I worked at Village Inn, Main Street, Lake Springs, Mercantile, Mail Carrier, Wulff Auction, Breaktime, MFA and Walmart. That’s where I get my customer service, bookkeeping and accounting skills and management skills.

 I feel I have the experience, background, attitude and honesty to perform the duties of the Dent County Collector.

I will work for the residents of Dent County just as I have at all my other jobs. I will be in the office every day to work eight-to-nine hours or more a day to be there and available to the residents of Dent County. I will work for you, not myself.! I would be blessed to serve you as your next Collector.

Share a project or effort you’ve led which created positive change in your community.

I have been involved in 4-H, saddle clubs, Relay for Life and was board member on the Enrichment Board for three years, along with participating in many other fundraisers. One fundraiser I helped with was a ball tournament put together by my daughter to help a friend of the family to pay funeral expenses which raised over $5,000. At our arena we help teach kids to ride and the respect of horses at no charge to keep kids interested in good, clean family fun. We enjoy helping handicap individuals and persons with disabilities to ride, also.

What policies are you prepared to champion to bring greater efficiency to county government?

I would like to help the residents of Dent County to set up escrow accounts to pay on taxes each month so it is not such a hard hit in December. I would also like to see combined mailing to save the county money in mailings. Any other ideas that come to me I would put forth to see what we can do the help our residents. I will always be open for suggestions.

Shannon Vankirk (R)

Salem is my home. I have been a member of this community for 46 years. I am currently the Deputy Collector and I have held this position since August 2014. I have been employed by the United States Postal Service and by US Bank. While working for US Bank, I was employed as a banker and I was later promoted to Branch Manager. I attended banker school and bank management training in Springfield. While working for US bank I achieved high honors as a Pinnacle winner. I am married to my wonderful husband Kenny and we share one daughter. Kenny and I are local business owners of Rainbow Siding & Guttering LLC., and we have been happily serving our community for 22 years. Our daughter Sierra is a Salem High School and Missouri State University graduate. Kenny and I have been married for 24 years. We also attend church at the Salem Pentecostal Church of God.

Why should you be elected?

I would be honored to serve our community as your next County Collector. I am confident in making this process for the community more convenient. I am always thriving to find better alternatives to issues that we have been faced with while working in the collector’s office. I am dedicated to upholding the Missouri State Statues, and I know what the correct procedures are for this office. With my background in banking and business management I feel I am the most qualified candidate. Since working as the Deputy Collector I have completed 80 hours of training through the Missouri County Collector’s Association. I have worked closely with our current collector on correct procedures. I know the importance of handling county funds correctly and efficiently.

 Share a project or effort you’ve led which created positive change in your community.

 The positive effort that created a change in the community was in the fall of 2016. I took on the role of getting our new Online Bill Pay setup. This effort has made paying taxes much more convenient for our citizens. It has also decreased the wait time for our customers that come in to the office. The Online Bill Pay has benefited customers of all ages in our community. For example, this website is user friendly and easy to navigate. This is a service that I was very pleased to get up and running for our community to make paying taxes easier and more efficient. This service was at no cost to our county government or taxpayers. The outcome of this change in 2016, I feel has had a positive affect for our taxpaying customers. As your next collector, I will always be striving to make taxpaying easier for our citizens.

 What policies are you prepared to champion to bring greater efficiency to county government?

 I plan to always go by the policies and procedures and to follow what the Missouri State Statutes read. I feel by following these laws I am achieving efficiency in our county government. As the Statutes change and adjust I will keep myself up to date on current statues. I am dedicated to always finding a way to make the county government more efficient. I will be open-minded when addressed with new potential policies that would benefit our community. It is crucial to be able to work among the other elected officials because this benefits our county government as a whole. I know that organization and management are the key components to running an efficient office. These procedures are a part of my background experience and are priorities to me.

Presiding Commissioner

 Travis Fulton (R)

I am a lifetime native of Dent County. I am married to my high school sweetheart, Barbie. She is employed by Phelps County Regional Medical Center and practices medicine as a Nurse Practitioner at the Dent Medical Clinic. I have owned and operated T. Fulton Construction company for over 25 years. We have four children, Travis (14), Addison (10), Jessie (10) and Taylor (10). We are a devout Christian family and attend New Harmony Church. I attended Dent Phelps R-III and graduated from Salem High School.

I am very active in our community through my children’s extracurricular activities, as well as my wife’s. I am a member of the Sons of the American Legion and the Masonic Lodge. I have held a federal firearm’s license for nearly 20 years.

In my leisure time, I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I also enjoy other hobbies such as ATV drag racing, barbequing and smoking meats and working on our family farm.

I believe in God, family, country and community.

Why should you be elected?

I believe that I am the best candidate for the job for many reasons. I am very familiar with Dent County. The residents feel at ease bringing their concerns and ideas to me. I have the best interest of all residents and feel that I have a good sense of direction in which our county should be headed, for ourselves and our children’s futures. As Commissioner I will always be accessible to hear the concerns of our citizens and work closely with other elected officials. I will listen to all ideas and opinions. 

Owning and operating my family’s successful construction business for over two decades has given me the qualifications to serve as Presiding Commissioner. I have always maintained a balanced budget. I hire and manage many subcontractors on a daily basis. I can build new, renovate and/or maintain any structure necessary for Dent County. I negotiate prices daily. The duties of Presiding Commissioner are very similar to what I have successfully been doing for over two decades. I want nothing more than to help make Dent County great.

I encourage all residents that may have anything to offer to help this goal along to please reach out to me. I will always listen with open ears. I am not a career politician. It is time for change!

 I would implement my own business experience to make the county more successful. I would treat it just as I would my own, always looking for more “bang for the buck”. We need to start looking more closely for smart tax breaks and grants for work around the county to lessen the burden on the tax payers. Our neglected court house is in desperate need of repair and I will look for funds/grants to help with those tasks without further burden upon Dent County citizens. I will also utilize our funds to the utmost capacity and not waste time, resources or manpower unnecessarily. I have always felt we need to save Dent County money while ending up with the best possible end product. That is the same attitude I will have as the new Presiding Commissioner.

 What would you do to improve or change the position of commissioner, or duties of the office, that would result in savings or benefits to the taxpayers?

Dent County is in the early stages of planning/budgeting for a new Justice Center. With so many hiccups already occurring in this process, how can this soon-to-be disaster be resolved? We must be very clear as to what is going to be built with no gray areas. We must work with local companies, especially within or with close ties to Dent County. We absolutely must do it right the first time. We cannot make costly mistakes with the taxpayers’ money.

What major financial decisions are on the horizon for the county, and how would you prioritize and pay for those?

I think that the budget is inadequate for the magnitude of the jail project. It has been poorly planned from the beginning and has the enormous potential to fail and be a huge black eye/embarrassment for our community if something is not done immediately. I think it is time to repeal the tax, start over with a realistic plan and budget so that we can have what we need and can be proud of it once it is finished. The last thing that our community needs is a Justice Center that is inadequate and costly.

We need to work closely with our local courthouse family, sheriff’s department and law enforcement community to determine final needs for our county. We must surround ourselves with experts on this project, not companies with questionable histories that could cost our county dearly for many decades to come. If we work together as a community, we can have a great outcome. If it continues along the current path, we will be in the same shape as other nearby counties, struggling to pay wages and overhead along with tens of thousands in monthly operating expenses.

Let’s stop now and regroup before it is too late.

Darrell Skiles (R) 

I am 59 years old. My wife, Marianne, and I have been married for 36 years and have three daughters and three grandsons with another on the way.

I was born and raised here in Dent County on the farm where my family has been since the 1800s. I graduated from Salem High School in 1976. After graduation I worked for almost 20 years for George Alan and Liz Barnitz at Barnitz Farms, worked one-and-a-half years for Craig Distributing Company (now US Food Service) and for several years for South Central Regional Stockyards as an area field representative assisting local livestock producers with their livestock marketing needs. Marianne and I also have a cow-calf operation on the family farm in western Dent County where we have lived since 1989.

Over the years I have served on numerous boards and community organizations, including board member and past president of both the Dent County Cattlemen’s Association and Dent County Farm Bureau.

I served for over the 20 years on the Dent-Phelps R-III School Board, serving as Treasurer, Vice-President and President of the board. I currently serve on the University of Missouri Wurdack Farm Advisory Committee, the Mt. Hermon Cemetery Board, and for many years now served as Secretary/Treasurer of the Dent County Livestock Educational Association, providing college scholarships to deserving area students. I’m also proud to have been elected by my peers to serve on the Board as a Secretary of the County Commission Association of Missouri.

Why should you be elected? 

I believe my experience and dedication to the job of Presiding Commissioner and to the betterment of our community are why I should be re-elected Presiding Commissioner of Dent County. I would point to my service on the Dent-Phelps R-III School Board as one example. When I went on the board in April 1993, our school had just the burned to the ground. The school district was nearly broke with less than $10,000 in reserves and on the State Financially Distressed list. The insurance company was refusing to pay to rebuild, and the State had declared the school academically deficient. When I left the board 20 years later we had rebuilt new beautiful facilities, ended the year with reserves of over $1 million dollars and received full State Accreditation with Distinction in Performance Awards. We had also twice added additional classrooms and bathrooms while keeping our tax rate at the lowest allowed by law. This was accomplished by everyone; community, board, administration, and staff working together to make the most of our limited resources.

I’m also very proud of accomplishments we’ve achieved by working with MODOT for highway and bridge improvements in Dent County. We now have wider, safer roadways with paved shoulders with rumble strips on Highways 32, 72 to Bunker, Highway 19 and soon Highway 68.

We have also in the last few years gotten six new wider, safer bridges on Dent County highways, with another scheduled for the near future. These improvements have come about by being present at various meetings with MODOT officials and State Legislative leaders and sharing our county’s needs and concerns.

Last but not least I have a strong record of actively protecting our private property rights, as well as defending our Second Amendment freedoms.

What would you do to improve or change the position of commissioner, or duties of the office, that would result in savings or benefits to the taxpayers?

Missouri statutes define the duties and responsibilities of each county office holder. The statutory duties of commissioners are limited to approving each office holder’s budget request, while constructing the overall county budget, approving all contracts and payments of all bills and overseeing the construction and maintenance of all county buildings and county roads. Beyond those duties, the authority of the commission is very limited and is why it is so important for the commission to communicate with and work with all the office holders in carrying out their statutory duties while ensuring Dent County remains financially sound.

 What major financial decisions are on the horizon for the county, and how would you prioritize and pay for those?

 Next month the commission will open bids for the new 82-bed jail for Dent County. This will be the first phase of our Justice Center Project and will be paid for by the Jail Construction and Operation Sales Taxes passed by Dent County voters just last year. When the jail is built and in operation, the commission can then look at proceeding with Phase II Law Enforcement and Courtroom facilities.

This year the commission is completing replacement of all the old round windows on  the third floor of the courthouse, and next year will replace all rectangular windows on the second and third floors to match the new windows installed on the first floor the previous year. These much-needed improvements will be paid for out of reserves in the General Revenue Fund.

Another issue the commission will be exploring is construction of an elevator for the courthouse, again paid for out of the General Revenue Reserves.

These projects illustrate why it is so important we operate as frugally as possible in order to have the reserves necessary to pay for much-needed improvements like these to our beautiful, nearly 150-year-old Dent County Courthouse.

 Prosecuting Attorney

Andrew Curley (R)

I am 36 and married to Ashlee Curley, father of Gwendolyn Curley (three years old) and Lincoln Curley (six months old).

2004-2005: Bachelor’s Degree in Agribusiness Management at University of Missouri-Columbia; Intern then hired as Administrative Assistant for the Boone County Drug Court and Mental Health Court;

2008: Juris Doctorate, University of Missouri-Columbia

2008-2010: Assistant Prosecutor for City of Sunrise Beach, MO;

2008-2012: General Private Practice;

2013-2014: Elected Dent County Prosecutor at Special Election

2015-present: Re-Elected Dent County Prosecutor

Why should you be elected?

I keep promises. In 2012 I vowed to reduce crime through unique prosecution strategies and hard work. With the assistance of law enforcement, my staff, and the judiciary, incidents of serious crime are on the decline.

Dent Uniform Crime Reporting Trends for Curley Since Elected

Offense: Percent crime rate comparison between incident averages for 2010-2012 and Curley's administration beginning 2013-2017                                

Violent Crimes: 41% decrease

Robbery: 52% decrease

Rape: 40% decrease

Aggravated assault: 33% decrease

Burglary: 19% decrease with 27% average decrease after 2013

Larceny/Theft: 5% decrease with 13% average decrease after 2013

Property Crimes: 7% decrease with 15% average decrease after 2013

Homicide: 30% decrease

Incidents of crime are reported by all law enforcement agencies and the courts to the Missouri Highway Patrol. The highway patrol collects these incident reports and generates Uniform Crime Reports. This type of reporting is officer driven, which removes concern that a prosecutor is toying with the numbers by declining to file cases. When you compare the three years prior to my election through the end of 2017, you can see a substantial decrease in the crime rate. For reasons I cannot explain, drug arrests are not reported in UCR numbers. This oversight in reporting is ridiculous, but I will discuss drug cases hereafter.

The filing of a criminal charge is easy, while concluding a serious felony takes an extraordinary amount of time and effort. The Confrontation Clause requires that a defendant be given an opportunity in court to confront their victims, regardless of how traumatizing that may be. If the prosecution is unable to produce the victim or key witnesses for trial, then the defendant walks. For this reason, a prosecutor must have a reputation for reliability and must work closely with the victim and their family to tailor a prosecution strategy specific to each case.

Our county is home to various federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. How can a cooperative effort be built to combat the common problems shared by all?

When I first took office in 2013, a substantial number of officers from every agency met with me and explained a lack of cooperation and communication concerning one of the agencies. This issue was described to me as their primary concern and a hinderance to effective criminal justice efforts. After much effort, I am pleased to announce that every agency is working excellently with each other. I applaud the efforts of each official, officer and staff member for their part in addressing the issue. I believe this correction played an integral role in the positive crime rate trends.

That being said, there are two issues that could use improvement.

A central dispatch system shared between the Salem Police Department and Sheriff’s Office is a good idea. Through the years, we have expressed our support for central dispatch to commissioners and aldermen. The free-flow of information is integral to effective prosecution and officer safety. This joint effort needs to be further developed and implemented.

Deputies and city officers use certain investigative software, while the highway patrol and conservation use a separate software program. Regrettably, these programs do not share information. This is a hinderance to the free-flow of information between agencies. All law enforcement agencies need to be utilizing the same investigative software to ensure the free-flow of all information.

 Drug abuse and crimes stemming from chronic addiction continue to plague families. What approaches can be taken to reduce the harm of the opioid epidemic?

Thomas Jefferson once said the care of human life is the first and only object of good government. That being said, the opioid is a killer. Black market drugs are trafficked on nearby Interstate 44 and some out-of-area doctors are overprescribing opioids. First, we must save lives through the use of Narcan and other life saving measures. No person deserves to die due to addiction.

Substance abuse continues to be a primary concern that has our full attention. When someone is found in possession of illicit drugs and subsequently prosecuted our Circuit Judges prefer probation over incarceration if the defendant is not a prior felony offender. These defendants go through a variety of court ordered rehabilitation efforts. Unfortunately, rural communities have limited resources available to probation officers to combat addiction. In response, I developed a pretrial diversion program for first time drug offenders. This program involves a more intense level of supervision than traditional probation. Pretrial diversion includes extensive supervision, in-patient/out-patient drug treatment, community service work, counseling, fines and may involve incarceration. In some cases, we utilize the drug court program and varying terms of incarceration, depending on the circumstances. The current strategy is to methodically increase the punishment or treatment to find that pressure point that changes the addict’s behavior. With input from the judiciary, probation officers, treatment providers and family members of the addict, we tailor a strategy specific to each defendant. If we are unable to find a way to change their behavior in the community, then incarceration is the ultimate result. Repeat felony drug abusers are sentenced to incarceration with an emphasis on drug rehabilitation while in DOC.

William Camm Seay (D)

I am 60 years old, the youngest of four children of the late William E. Seay and Shirley A. Seay. A Dent County native, I have raised four children and I have nine grandchildren. I obtained my undergraduate degree and my juris doctorate from the University of Missouri – Columbia. In 1980, I was sworn in as Assistant Prosecuting Attorney of Dent County. In 1982, I was elected to the first of three terms as Prosecuting Attorney of Dent County. In 1994, I was elected to the first of three terms as Circuit Judge of the 42nd Judicial Circuit. In 2010, I was elected as Prosecuting Attorney of Crawford County where I served for four years. In 2012, I was appointed as City Attorney of Salem and remain in that position. I have been appointed to serve as special prosecutor in every county within the five-county 42nd Judicial Circuit, all Judicial Circuits which adjoin the 42nd Judicial Circuit as well as others that do not. The Missouri Ethics Commission has appointed me to investigate election law violations in the past.

Why should you be elected?

I have either been a prosecuting attorney or Circuit Judge my entire working career since obtaining my law degree, nearly four decades. The oath that a prosecuting attorney and judge are sworn to are the same – to seek justice. Both the victim’s rights and a defendant’s rights must be balanced under our Missouri and United States Constitutions. As a result, I have been adamant about juries deciding cases. To that end, you will find no prosecutor in the region who has tried as many jury trials as I have. Because of that, I have been appointed as a special prosecutor in every county within our five-county circuit as well as the five circuits adjoining ours and two others. Not simple cases but murders, rapes, manslaughter, drug and DWI cases. The judges who appointed me in those cases are aware of my reputation for trying cases. My most recent was to prosecute a Missouri State Trooper in Morgan County for causing the negligent death of a boater.

Our county is home to various federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. How can a cooperative effort be built to combat the common problems shared by all?

We have a drug task force which results in cooperation among various law enforcement agencies at this time. The problem is they are not seeing results from their hard work. They are tired of seeing pats on the back for drug offenders who keep taxing our court system. There is a direct link between drug users who need to feed their habit by committing burglaries and thefts. Drug dealers don’t care how their users pay for their drugs as long as they are making money. The first key to shutting down drug dealers is that cooperative effort by the DEA, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Drug Task Force, Conservation Agents and the Salem Police Department. They all want to know they have a full-time prosecutor dedicated to having their backs when they bring solid evidence of crimes. I have that reputation.

Drug abuse and crimes stemming from chronic addiction continue to plague families. What approaches can be taken to reduce the harm of the opioid epidemic?

It is a sad commentary on the State of Missouri when we are the last and one and only state in this great country to not have laws to prevent doctor shopping for opioids. Who in Jefferson City is reaping the benefits of our hands-off policy? The drug industry has a role, but no doubt we need to finally tighten the reins in on the entire state as most counties in Missouri that can pass laws have done so, unlike our third-class county, which can’t.

The issue won’t go away. The causes are many, but greatly two-fold. First, nearly half of Americans have some form of back problems. Drug companies have for generations prompted doctors to help their patients with that problem with pain medication. The problem is, it doesn’t go away, and it just masks it. Nobody spent enough time telling legitimate pain sufferers about the addiction consequences. Next, Americans have since the Baby Boomers (I am a Boomer) found themselves with more and more idle time. America has moved from the 60s and 70s smoking pot to reaching another plateau, to LSD to cocaine, to heroin, to meth, to prescription drugs and heroin back on our radar. We needed to be reaching for our families and God instead.

I do not believe in treating drug addiction with substituting other drugs. I have watched a mother in Crawford County supplant heroin addiction with being on suboxin for years and consequently go on to have three babies addicted to suboxin. The SEMO Treatment Center in Salem has a tele-a-doc on television that talks to patients there and prescribes medicine for them. Really? I have a prescription for the problem. Work with families affected to practice tough love. If my fellow Dent Countians don’t shoot the addicts trying to feed their habits when they are trying to break in their houses and steal from them, I am going to ask our Dent County judges to keep them in the cross-bar hotel until I can get them ushered in Drug Court, which doesn’t let you substitute drugs or treatment programs, and neither does the Department of Corrections. Grasp God! Not Drugs!

Public Administrator 

Sherida Cook (R) 

I was born and raised in Salem, and I am 1996 graduate of Salem Senior High School.  I am married to lifelong resident of Dent County Tracy Cook and I have three step children, Chloe Cuddy, Jamie and Jana Cook. I am an active member of Corinth Baptist Church where I work with the children’s and youth ministry. I am also involved in community organizations. I serve as treasurer for the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, SHS Lady Tiger Booster Club President and Dent County Baptist Association Children’s Camp Director.

Why should you be elected?

Since I was appointed to the position of Public Administrator by our governor in September 2017, my number one priority has been to give as much one-on-one time as possible to the people in my care. I believe the best way to meet their needs is to get to know them personally. To ensure the best care, I have worked alongside the Dent County Developmental Disabilities Board, hospitals, health-care facilities, hospices, law offices and other agencies and even Public Administrators in other counties. It has been my honor to serve these men and women, and I would love the opportunity to continue.

Share a project or effort you’ve led which created positive change in your community.

Since 2014, I have been the Dent County Association Children’s Camp Director for our third through sixth grade summer camp. This is a time of the year I look forward to the most. I and an amazing group of volunteers take time from work and spend our vacations ministering and sharing the gospel to about on average 40 rambunctious and excited third through sixth graders. Over the several years of participating in camp we have noticed more and more children that arrive to camp come with very little. Some children have come with only the clothes on their back.  We believe it’s not just enough to share the gospel by reading and sharing the Bible with the kids, but to actually live it out loud and meet their physical needs during the week. Through generous donations from churches and private donors we are able to provide basic necessities such as bed linens/sleeping bags, hygiene kits, wash cloths/towels and sometimes clean clothes when needed. This time also provides children with three meals a day and plenty of snacks in between where as they might not receive at home. We believe if a child has their belly full, a safe place to sleep, and is having a great time it will be easier for the gospel to be received. It is my greatest joy to spend time with these children. I hope they grow up to know how important and loved they are, not only by the camp staff, but by the one who created them.

What policies are you prepared to champion to bring greater efficiency to county government?

The office of Public Administrator does not create policies, but advocates and serves men and women who are mentally incapacitated. When there are no family members who are willing, available, or suitable to serve, the public administrator is then appointed by a judge to care for them. As the current appointed Public Administrator, I will continue to serve those men and women who are sometimes overlooked and not heard in our county. I will remind them their opinions matter and they are also an important part of our community. I am blessed to have this position and understand it comes with great responsibilities.  I appreciate your vote August 7th. Thank you for your support.

Nikki Eaton (R)

I am a native of Salem and a graduate of Salem High School in 1995. I have an Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies from Kaplan University. I am currently serving as the Board Secretary at Oak Hill R-I School District. I am married to Jeff Eaton, who is the transportation manager at US Foods. I have two children, Landon McDonald and Jaiden Eaton. We are members of Liberty Baptist Church.

While in school, I was a member of 4-H and FFA and have continued my love for the farm life as an adult. My husband and I own cattle and enjoy our time on the farm. I started riding horses at a young age and I love traveling to compete at barrel races with my family.

Why should you be elected?

I have worked in fields throughout my career that will enable me to fulfill my duties as Public Administrator. I was a domestic violence advocate for the Dent County Women’s Crisis Center. I have worked for Missouri Probation and Parole and as a Paralegal since 2004. This experience with the court system will give me the ability to make a seamless transition into the position of Public Administrator.

I have also worked directly with the public throughout my career and this will allow me to connect with those people that need the services of the Public Administrator.

I can insure that my Protectees will be well cared for and that their funds will be managed in an organized and timely manner.

Share a project or effort you’ve led which created positive change in your community.

While employed as the Dent County Women’s Crisis Center Advocate, one of my first duties was to find a new location for our office. The number one priority was that it had to be a safe location for any potential victims. I used my networking skills to secure a safe location and was able to achieve that in a minimal amount of time. I also had a close relationship with the Circuit Clerk and employees at the court house that led to a positive change in how we all worked together to advocate for the victims of domestic violence.

Another challenge I faced during my tenure was how to get the community involved. I started having monthly meetings and inviting our community business owners, law enforcement, hospital staff and our judicial system to these meetings. Southwest Baptist University-Salem Center was very generous and always went above and beyond to allow me to use a classroom for these meetings. I am thankful for the opportunity that I had during my time as the advocate for the citizens of Dent County and not only was it a positive change in the community, but a positive change in my own life.

What policies are you prepared to champion to bring greater efficiency to county government?

If elected as the Public Administrator I will bring extensive knowledge in the guardianship and conservatorship matters. I have past experience in balancing multiple tasks on a daily basis. As a paralegal with the Smith & Turley Law Firm, I answered multiple daily phone calls, balanced the operating and trust accounts, prepared and filed court documents. I have experience in preparing for and assisting the attorney in trial. In order to be efficient as the public administrator, organizational skills are a must. It is very important to make sure that anything concerning the ward is done in a timely manner. That may mean returning a phone call, paying an outstanding bill, or submitting an annual report to the Court. This position is not one that you can just walk away from at 4:30 p.m. each day. This position is one that you are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I am qualified and ready for the responsibility it takes to be your next Public Administrator.

 State Representative

Jack Bates (R)

I was born in Putnam County, went to college at Northeast Missouri State University and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. Upon accepting a position with Air Evac Lifeteam in 1985, I moved to Oregon County and have worked there for 32 years. I am widowed, losing my wife to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 2008. We had five children graduate from high school in Oregon County and four have attended Missouri State University – West Plains and one attended the South-Central Career Center. I have been active in the community, representing the 143rd District on the Ozarks Medical Center Board of Directors, the Missouri State University – West Plains Development Board and the Child Advocacy Center Board. In 2010, I was appointed to serve on the State of Missouri’s Southwest Missouri Regional EMS Council and continue to serve on that Council.

 Why should you be elected?

 I will represent all of the district and will work with other members of the General Assembly to achieve the goals of the District and State. I will defend the sanctity of life and the Second Amendment. During the 10 years that I was the Director of Administration for Air Evac, I was assigned many projects that were behind or over budget to get them back on time and within budget. I also appeared before numerous boards, hearing officers and Administrative Law Judges in order to address issues impacting the air medical industry. My experience in working with multiple state agencies has given me a good first-hand knowledge of strengths and weaknesses in our state system. I have always had a policy that voicemails and emails are always answered the same day they are received, and I pledge to continue that policy. Constant two-way communication is essential to success. I believe that my values and experience make me the best choice for State Representative.

Missouri has the seventh largest state transportation grid in the USA but currently ranks 47th in funding. Do you support a funding increase, and if so, how would you pay for it?

Something has to be done to improve funding for transportation. The voters previously rejected a gas tax increase, so if we should ask for an increase in the gas tax we should offer something different than what the voters rejected. One interesting proposal I have seen is to make some, if not all, of our interstate highways into toll roads. A large amount of the traffic on those roads are from out of state and most likely did not purchase fuel while they are in Missouri, but contribute to the wear and tear upon our roads. I am not advocating any one way to improve funding at this point, but the issue needs to be addressed.

Repeated budget cuts at Missouri S&T and other institutions of higher learning have led to loss of local jobs. Do you support more state cuts for higher education? Why or why not?

Education, especially higher education, is a means for citizens to improve their lives. In order to bring jobs to our communities, we need to show the prospective employers that we have an educated or trainable workforce. We need to support higher education for those reasons alone. Not just the universities, but the technical schools as well. In most of the communities where we have institutions of higher learning, the institution itself is a major employer and any cuts in that labor force resonates through the community, so we need to contribute to these institutions.

Jeffery Pogue (R)

I have been married to my beautiful bride for over 17 years and have three wonderful children. I am a life-long Dent County resident; my parents still live on the family farm where I was raised. I am a Constitutional Conservative who is pro-family, pro-gun and pro-life. I am a minister, carpenter by trade and member of the Missouri National Guard.

I believe government is too big, spends too much and needs to be reined in. My critics say I vote no too much, but I have high standards for law-making. My belief is that we shouldn't be making new laws all of the time simply for the headlines they create. Bills often have unintended consequences and long-term ramifications beyond the ear-pleasing bill title. I have dedicated my time in the legislature to knowing the full scope of the bills we present and being willing to go against the grain of partisan politics to help the citizens of rural Missouri in the 143rd District.

Why should you be elected?

In this part of the state we care about our family, our faith and not giving up our rights. In my past three terms as representative, I have stood up for family values, moral decency, preservation of our Second Amendment rights and states’ rights.

The taxpayers of rural Missouri in the 143rd District believe government has gotten too big. We want our hard-earned tax dollars to be spent more judiciously. I have a voting record that shows I will dig deep into bills to find out how tax dollars are spent and where they come from. An across-the-board tax cut was passed early in my tenure as a Representative. I believe we should work diligently to make sure it is enacted and stop picking winners and losers in Jefferson City.

 Missouri has the seventh largest state transportation grid in the USA but currently ranks 47th in funding. Do you support a funding increase, and if so, how would you pay for it? 

 It is my belief that MoDOT needs more funding. The taxpayers are already paying enough of their earnings in taxes. Government needs to tighten their belts on out-of-control spending and give transportation a larger piece of the pie. I also believe we need to work on how the existing budget is being spent to make sure taxpayers are getting the best bang for their buck on current funding.

 Repeated budget cuts at Missouri S&T and other institutions of higher learning have led to loss of local jobs. Do you support more state cuts for higher education? Why or why not? 

In general terms, I am opposed to the higher education cuts that have affected Missouri S&T. While I have endorsed some cuts to the University of Missouri to force them to get their house in order, but those cuts were never intended to harm Missouri S&T. We are lucky to have one of the foremost engineering schools in the nation in our immediate area. We need to continue supporting our state universities while being careful that the taxpayers’ dollars are being spent in a way that will lead to a brighter future for all Missourians.

 State Senate

 Justin Ban Brown (R)

I was born and raised in Rolla, attending Rolla Public Schools kindergarten- 12th grade. I attended MS&T, after earning my degree, I became a loan officer at a local bank in Rolla. I reside on a farm in rural Rolla with my wife, Laura and three children, Tristin, Brody and Kennedy. I currently own and operate Brown Farms Rolla, LLC. My wife is the Director of Early Childhood for Rolla Public Schools. Together, we attend Greentree Christian Church. I am a project leader for the Elk Prairie 4-H Club, the President of Phelps County Farm Bureau Federation and am on the Board of Directors of Rolla Farmer’s Exchange.

Why should you be elected?

I am a businessman who understands the needs of farmers, rural Missourians and small business owners. I’m an avid supporter of the Second Amendment. I have been endorsed by Missouri Right to Life, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, and Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #105. I will continue the strong representation that we currently have had in Jefferson City the past eight years. I will be a watchdog against tax increases, wasteful spending and the business killing regulations. I am very much in touch with the plight of our citizens who have been ravaged by the opioid crisis. I will work hand in hand with our law enforcement officials, state health officials and all interested parties to find better solutions for this opioid crisis, including supporting President Trump’s agenda to build a wall and crack down on those transporting these deadly drugs into our country. I realize that education changes lives, and I will work tirelessly to make sure that the one of the premier engineering schools in the nation is protected and preserved at all costs.

 Missouri has the seventh largest state transportation grid in the USA but currently ranks 47th in funding. Do you support a funding increase, and if so, how would you pay for it? 

No, I would pay for our much-needed road improvements by cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse. I would redirect funds from the highly paid executives to the actual road workers to complete their projects in a more timely fashion and more efficiently.

Repeated budget cuts at Missouri S&T and other institutions of higher learning have led to loss of local jobs. Do you support more state cuts for higher education? Why or why not? 

 No, the current Senate Appropriations Chairman successfully fought for and received a massive increase in higher education funding last year. I will continue to make sure to not only see that those increases are preserved and maintained but increased.

 Ryan Dillon (D)

 Growing up in my family’s small business, Forum Cleaners, I saw first-hand what it takes to manage a business that promotes entrepreneurship, community and fiscal accountability. It exposed me to the daily challenges a small business owner can encounter; such as wading through the red-tape of government regulations, maintaining a positive employee working environment, and balancing a busy professional and personal life.  Serving alongside my family taught me that while hard work and dedication can build a profitable business, strong relationships and partnerships in the community are the key to success.

Upon graduation from Rolla High School and Westminster College, I moved to Washington, DC, where I was a staffer on Capitol Hill for Congressman Ike Skelton. In the office, I served as a resource for constituents, listening to their concerns and the challenges they face in their daily lives. Working on behalf of the people of Missouri was an experience that I consider to be the most humbling and rewarding of my professional career. Committed to public service, I then served at the U.S. Department of State working closely with the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security to develop, and implement, national security protocols. In this position, I served as a government liaison working with foreign embassies and international organizations to promote U.S. interests around the world. It was this position that inspired me to continue my education and pursue a master's degree in international development and global security from American University's School of International Service.

I currently reside in St. James, and I am a member of the Epilepsy Foundation of Missouri, the Onondaga Friends Association, the Missouri State Teachers Association, the Human Rights Campaign and the Missouri Association of State Troopers Emergency Relief Society.

 Why should you be elected?

My grandfather, Anthony “Tony” Viessman, often reminded me that it is every Missourian’s duty to give back to their community. Through my personal and professional experiences, the values of integrity, respect, fairness, and responsibility have been instilled in me. These values are the foundation of my everyday life and would guide my work as a State Senator.

I am running for the Missouri State Senate because I believe in progress, that tomorrow should be better than today. This campaign is about bringing people together to compromise and reach the solutions that we all know are possible. Good ideas transcend partisanship. I’m working to build people up, strengthen communities, and make Missouri a better place to live and work for everybody. I believe in the people who live in Missouri’s 16th Senatorial District and the opportunities we can create when we work together.

It is this belief that inspired me to walk the 63 miles from my hometown of Rolla to Jefferson City to officially file to run for the Missouri State Senate. Along the way, I dedicated each mile to a constituent story that I have heard during this campaign. Far too often, our elected officials listen to respond, not to understand.

As a State Senator, I would be accessible, transparent, and accountable. It is why every constituent of mine would have a direct line of communication with me; my cell phone number is (573) 465-3939. In the Missouri State Senate, I would strive to be a compassionate leader who finds the good in everyone and everything around me.

If we are going to change Jefferson City, we have to change who we send there.

Missouri has the seventh largest state transportation grid in the USA but currently ranks 47th in funding. Do you support a funding increase, and if so, how would you pay for it?

In the Missouri State Senate, I would support a transportation funding increase. Deteriorating roads and crumbling bridges are not a partisan issue, they are a public safety issue. I stand with Governor Mike Parson in support of a bipartisan proposal to increase the gas tax in Missouri, which will appear on the ballot in November. As long as the funding from the increased gas tax is used for its appropriate purpose, this bipartisan proposal is a commonsense solution to a problem that affects all Missourians.

Missouri has not seen an increase in its gas tax for two decades and the current state of our infrastructure reflects that.  At 17 cents a gallon, Missouri’s current gas tax is seven cents below the national average and one of the lowest in the nation. The current bipartisan proposal would raise the gas tax by 2.5 cents per year over four years, moving our state just above the national average.

With this small increase, the gas tax in Missouri is projected to raise approximately $290 million annually for roads, bridges and port systems. In addition, it would increase funding for the Missouri State Highway Patrol and generate $123 million for city and county projects. By investing in infrastructure, we would attract new businesses to Missouri, create good-paying jobs across the state, and decrease the amount of money Missourians spend on vehicle maintenance due to wear and tear.

Repeated budget cuts at Missouri S&T and other institutions of higher learning have led to loss of local jobs. Do you support more state cuts for higher education? Why or why not?

Founded in 1870, Missouri S&T provides a world-class education to its students and is a key component to the economy of Missouri’s 16th Senatorial District. In order for Missouri S&T to fulfill its vision of being the leading public technological research university for discovery, creativity, and innovation, I would oppose additional cuts to higher education. Recent budget cuts have resulted in the loss of jobs in our community and we are seeing diminished opportunities as a result. The next generation of Missourians should be exposed to more opportunities in our community, not less.  In order to attract businesses, good-paying jobs, and a stronger local economy, we must fully fund education institutions at all levels.

To be perfectly clear, higher education is not restricted to universities. We must promote trade schools, junior colleges, and other forms of education in order for Missourians to be competitive in a global job market. Empowering people through education leads to productivity, prosperity, and purpose. A skilled workforce is a successful workforce. As your State Senator, I will fight for increased investments in education, the opportunity it brings to our community, and the impact it has on every level of Missouri’s economy.

U.S. Representative

Kathy Ellis (D)

A am a sixth generation Jefferson Countian currently residing in Festus. I have been a Clinical Social Worker and Addictions/Trauma Specialist for over 30 years. In my career, I have worked in juvenile court, a halfway house, supervising a law enforcement training grant and a child welfare specialization grant at Washington University, as a therapist in an inpatient addiction treatment facility and in my own private practice. I have a Master of Social Work degree from Washington University and a B. S. in Administration of Justice at University of Missouri-St. Louis. I am the vice-chair of a comprehensive community health center where I serve on the executive board, the finance committee, the credentialing committee and on our domestic violence foundation board as secretary of the board. I grew up in House Springs in Jefferson County where I attended Northwest High School. My parents both worked for the school district. I have one brother, a police officer, who died eighteen years ago when his children were seven and four, and I have helped support them since then. My niece is a third- year medical student at Mizzou, and my nephew recently graduated from that institution. I have been married to Ann for almost four years.

Why should you be elected?

The 8th Congressional District is the 11th poorest district in the country. We are losing our family members to the devastation of the opioid epidemic, our schools and infrastructure are crumbling, our hospitals are closing, we are paying too much for drugs that many need to stay alive, tariffs are eliminating jobs and impacting our family farms, college students are drowning in debt from student loans and the millionaires and billionaires are benefitting from the tax reform enacted this year. Our rural areas are struggling to survive while the politicians in power are increasing their personal wealth.

We need a Representative in Congress who is not a politician making false promises and who only stays in Congress to accrue more wealth and power. I will work hard to get Citizens United legislatively removed and get the dark money out of our elections.

We need a Representative who shows up to listen to the citizens of this district instead of showing up for a photo opportunity with a wealthy donor or corporation. I will hold town halls with the people of this district. I have already logged almost 40,000 miles traveling through the district over the past 14 months, and I want to listen to what you want.

I am a fiscal conservative when it comes to my own money and I will always be watchful about how your money is spent. The current administration has increased our national debt to an unreasonable level. We need to make sure that the millionaires and billionaires are paying their share. I want to protect your healthcare, your Social Security, your Medicare and Medicaid from privatization and reductions. We don’t want the wealthy to line their pockets with what we have earned.

We need to increase the ability of our public schools to provide a quality education. Vouchers and charter schools will not work in rural areas. I support unions, which are the road to the middle class.

Do you feel undocumented immigrants should be given a path to citizenship or be deported? Do you think a wall needs to be built along the border with Mexico?

I support allowing undocumented immigrants in this country to have a path to citizenship. We are a nation of immigrants and we know that the talents and skills of immigrants have made this country great. Our country is based upon the premise that we welcome those who seek asylum, as so many have always done. Because of the criminal actions of a few, there has been judgement of many who simply desire a better life. Documented immigrants will contribute to making a more robust economy for all. We need a process at our borders that will secure those borders as well as provide a pathway to citizenship. I do not support a wall because we can do a much better job of border enforcement with electronic surveillance and more modern methods of security.

 Would you support a mental health requirement to purchasing firearms in addition to felons being barred from gun ownership?

I support the Second Amendment, and I support a mental health requirement provided that an individual’s rights are protected. Only a small number of individuals with mental illness will become violent, despite claims to the contrary. Anyone who has been found guilty of domestic violence should not be allowed to own or possess a gun. Anyone who is convicted of a felony should not be allowed to own or possess a gun. We need sensible gun laws to educate people about the safe use of guns around children, and background checks with a waiting period to determine whether an individual meets the mental health criteria. It is far too easy for anyone suffering from depression (which is a treatable illness) to end their life with a gun.

Jason Smith (R)

 I am a seventh generation Missourian and fourth generation family farm owner. I grew up working on my family farm and still put weekends in to this day. I used my high school FFA project to help pay my own way through college. After graduating law school, I returned home to Dent County to help on the family farm and operate a small business. This is when I learned what it truly meant to balance a budget, live within your means and the disciplined work ethic needed to operate a successful farm and business. I also experienced first-hand the harm that the overbearing government was inflicting on my farm and business. Realizing I could do something about that and make life a little easier for southern Missourians, wanting to undo the damage from a government which taxes, spends and regulates too much, I decided to run for elected office.

My work in Jefferson City, and now the United States Congress, has earned me a reputation as a guardian of rural values, a fighter for a smaller, more efficient government and an outspoken advocate of fiscal conservatism. Whether it was helping author and pass Right-to-Farm in Missouri or joining President Trump in slashing taxes and regulations this past year, I will continue to champion the rights and values of farmers and rural Missourians above all else.

I have been consistently endorsed by the Missouri Farm Bureau, the National Rifle Association and Missouri Right to Life. I have earned 100 percent ratings from groups like the Christian Coalition of America, the National Federation of Independent Business and the Faith & Freedom Coalition.

I still attend Grace Community Church in Salem and make my home in Salem to this day.

 Why should you be elected?

It is an honor to represent and fight for my friends, neighbors and loved ones from southern Missouri in front of the United States Congress. My focus remains to shrink the size of our government while enhancing the freedoms and liberties Missourians are bestowed upon them by their U.S. Constitution.

As someone whose parents, grandparents, great grandparents and grandparents before them all called this area home, I know what it means to fight for the rural values and beliefs you and I hold dear. As someone who has experienced first-hand how the suffocating arm of government can reach onto your farm or stifle your business, I continue to fight each day to get the government off your land and out of your business.

In the first year of working with President Trump, we slashed taxes to historic lows to help farmers, business owners and families in southern Missouri – allowing you to keep more of what is yours rather than sending it to Washington. We removed over 1,000 federal regulations, saving the economy billions in bureaucratic compliance costs. We halted onerous regulations impacting farmers like the Waters of the United States Rule which aimed to federally regulate every bucket of water on your farm. We reaffirmed our support for important allies like Israel and have eradicated threats like ISIS. We enhanced security at our borders and began to rebuild our military to give our men and women the resources to be safe after eight years of defense budget cuts. We dismantled major portions of Obamacare including the Individual Mandate which forced Missourians to buy something they did not want.

We have accomplished a lot alongside President Trump, but so much work is left to be done. I look forward to joining our president in those fights which lie ahead.

Do you feel undocumented immigrants should be given a path to citizenship or be deported? Do you think a wall needs to be built along the border with Mexico?

I have long joined our president in the call for a wall on our southern border. The safety and security of American families must be first and foremost when addressing the needs at our borders. The current lack of deterrents at our borders further incentivizes illegal immigration with little to no consequence. It is not until our border is secure that we can discuss how to fix our broken immigration system.

Undocumented or illegal immigrants who broke our laws to come here should not be given a special system, separate process or special pathway to citizenship. Anyone wanting to become a U.S. citizen should follow the same citizenship process.

I also echo our president’s call to end chain migration, end the visa lottery program and cut off federal funding to Sanctuary Cities which allow illegal immigrants to openly oppose U.S. law without fear of consequence. Missouri tax dollars should not be used to support coastal cities which break the law and don’t share our values.

I would also like to say thank you to the brave individuals of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division (ICE) for the work they do to keep our country safe. Last year, the folks of ICE arrested more than 127,000 illegal aliens with criminal convictions or charges, including thousands who have murdered, kidnaped or have committed sexual assaults. It is a shame that many on the left have called for the abolishment of ICE and demonized them as a terrorist organization. Such characterization is inappropriate, shameful and couldn’t be further from the truth.

 Would you support a mental health requirement to purchasing firearms in addition to felons being barred from gun ownership?

 Unfortunately, too many recent tragedies in this county and around the world have been used as an opportunity by those with opposing views to try and limit the rights of law abiding Americans guaranteed to them by the U.S. Constitution.

Rather than constructively looking at ways we can better protect our schools, our families and places of gatherings, many retreat to a position of trying to limit the ability of law abiding Americans to legally protect themselves. Rather than looking at the breakdowns in the system of attackers who were often already on the radar, we find those on the left instantly advocating for new laws prohibiting gun ownership. If laws against murder, gun free zones and gun capacity didn’t stop these criminals from partaking in their terrible acts, what will an additional law doing so prevent?

I support the due process of law above all else. No American should be deemed unfit to carry a firearm unless he or she has been first given the due process of our courts and judicial system. In that same regard, there must be a recognition that not all crimes are ones of violence which necessitate limiting the constitutional protections of millions of Americans. Again, due process and the rule of law should help determine someone’s ability to possess a firearm, not a blanket characterization which will include many who have committed no violent act or found to be a societal threat.