The Examiner endorses Mike Sanders and Bob Spence.
After Mike Sanders took office as Jackson County executive in 2007, he soon faced a county budget that was more than $6 million in the red. He didn’t turn to the taxpayers to deliver more money so the county could keep the status quo. Instead he cut, and cut more.
Cutting costs within county government is one area where Democrat Sanders and his Republican opponent, former legislator Robert Stringfield, seem to agree.
But Stringfield takes a more punitive outlook toward county government and how it should be run. He focuses not just on cutting costs, but in limiting county functions and downsizing. We agree duplication of services should be eliminated and that the county can still find ways to reduce expenditures and save taxpayers money.
But a big part of being the county executive is the ability to lead the entire government of the county and work effectively with the legislature to accomplish goals. Stringfield, as a legislator, had notable run-ins with his fellow legislators, including a physical scuffle with Dan Tarwater.
And where Stringfield focuses more on how to “undo” county government, Sanders focuses on how to do more for the county, while keeping the economy in mind.
One example is his recognition that economic development in the metro would be boosted by a commuter rail system that can use existing tracks and a less expensive system than the light rail that so many urban areas desire.
We think Sanders’ ability to work with the legislature and lead the county’s workforce through some difficult budget cuts, plus his forward-looking nature, have earned him another term as Jackson County executive.
There is a third candidate on the ballot, Reform Party candidate Ellsworth “Junior” Tolbert, who has marginally campaigned for the seat.
The only challenged seat on the Jackson County Legislature that is on the ballot in Eastern Jackson County is in the 6th District, which includes Lee’s Summit, plus the area south of Wyatt road and the southern tip of Blue Springs.
Republican Bob Spence is facing Democrat Greg Walters, who has served on the Raytown Board of Aldermen.
Walters has supported commuter rail for Jackson County and has said he’s a fiscal conservative.
Spence, who has been on the legislature since 1999, has called for more cooperation and less city vs. city battling for economic development.
So both candidates have voiced support for goals The Examiner would like to see happen.
But Spence is one of only two Republicans on the legislature; the other is Greg Grounds of Blue Springs. We believe it is important to have a loyal opposition on any governing body, so we support Spence’s re-election so that he can continue to challenge actions he feels the majority is wrong on.