The good people of Cass County haven’t checked out of local politics.
That fact was clear as a bell Tuesday night at the Harrisonville Community Center.
More than 125 people came and engaged in a local politics for a few hours this week. And for that, they should be commended.
Sure, some of the crowd was a relative or supporter of a candidate. But some were not. And the hope and goal of our Cass County Democrat Political Forum was that everyone walked away learning something they didn’t know at the beginning of the night.
Kudos to all the candidates for appearing, too, because I know that isn’t easy. In fact, for some, that is the most difficult part of the campaign.
Some of our public servants are not always good when it comes to a room full of people. But all six candidates for our three commissioner spots and both candidates for sheriff braved the crowd the questions, showed up and made their pitch.
Watching the sheriff candidates was interesting to me, as I have witnessed a much more contentious race for sheriff when I was up in Iowa – a race that had a natural “next in line” running against a lower ranking deputy. The “next in line” won, but it surely caused some internal disputes.
We don’t have that in this race. But what we do have is a sitting sheriff, Dwight Diehl, and another experience lawman, Doug Catron, both vying for the job. Diehl’s had it a long time; Catron thinks it’s his time to take over.
Each had a different style at the forum this week as well and I believe each delivered a different message to the voters.
Our candidates for north, south and presiding commissioner don’t always sound too different when talking on county topics. In fact, on fiscal responsibility, renewing the faith in county government and providing more transparency, each of them is pretty much in line with one another.
There’s not bad blood or big scandals brewing in any of those races.
So what forums like this have to do is provide raw information – emotions, feelings, reactions – that can help the voters decided who truly will best serve Cass County.
Terry Wilson and Jeff Cox have run clean races, just as Luke Scavuzzo and Jim Hoke have and Jimmy Odom and Phil Duncan have. Each has a passion for the county and has expressed an interest in bringing some credibility back to the job.
I was also impressed to see our current County Treasurer Steve Cheslik on hand, along his with opponent, Larry Kalwei, and Public Administrator Melody Folsom. Although they were not in the forum itself, each choose to be on hand and be present during this important exchange. That should say a lot about those candidates to the voters.
It also says a lot that well over 100 people attended. Namely, that the voters haven’t given up on hearing from candidates, that they haven’t checked out of the process.
That was the best message of all Tuesday night.