Republicans John Elliott and Jason Buckley face each other in the Tuesday, Aug. 2 primary election for the second district Platte County Commission seat now held by Duane Soper. Soper is not seeking re-election.
A third Republican candidate, Vic Perrin, will appear on the ballot but withdrew from his campaign last month.
In the second district, which covers the northern part of Platte County including Platte City, the winner of the Republican primary will then face Democrat John Fairfield in the Tuesday, Nov. 8 election.
Jason Buckley, 34, is a Navy veteran from Kansas City. Married with two teenage children, he works in information technology and said he was motivated to run for office to serve the greater good.
“Ever since my days in the U.S. Navy, I have been very passionate about politics,” Buckley said. “After seeing the path this country has taken, I decided that running for office was the best action to take. I want to make Platte County a place that other counties emulate.”
Buckley hopes to reduce the tax burden by cutting waste and nonessential expenses and said he would work with employers to create more jobs. Cutting nonessential spending would allow the county to become debt and bond free faster, ultimately resulting in lower taxes.
“The biggest issue that we face is the spending and taxation that takes place in both my district, and in District One,” Buckley said.
Cutting nonessential spending extends to his position on the upcoming possible renewal of the one-half cent parks, recreation and stormwater tax. He suggests the tax could be renewed at a lower rate — one-quarter cent — and suggests the sale of Shiloh Springs Golf Course would be an easy way to help cut that tax.
“My conservative values would tell you that government should stay out of things like golf courses,” Buckley said. “This is something that can be provided by the private sector if the demand is there. Until it is sold, I would make the changes needed to have Shiloh be able to support itself. This is just one way we can easily lower our parks tax.”
Although suggestions to divert a portion of parks tax funding to law enforcement have been made through the years, Buckley does not appear to favor this concept.
“The sheriff’s department does not currently have any issues with getting the funding they need,” Buckley said. “Law enforcement is the backbone of our county and I would continue to make sure they receive what they need in the most effective and conservative way possible.”
John Elliott, 54, is originally from Spickard, Mo. Married, he has two grown children and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri. After working for Wells Bank, he has spent nearly 20 years at Inside Information, located in Smithville.
Elliott has served on various boards, including the Board of Equalization, and has watched government and politics very closely for the past 30 years, he said.
“I want to work with presiding commissioner (Ron) Schieber to address financial, operational and personnel issues in county government,” Elliott said. “I’m conservative. I have no personal agenda. I don’t ‘need’ a job. I have no plans for future office, but I do have a plan for Platte County.”
That plan includes focusing on core county commission responsibilities, including law enforcement and prosecution and maintaining county roads, bridges and facilities. He wants to make law enforcement the county’s first priority, noting that increasing population in the second district brings more crime, as well as more maintenance needs.
Elliott listed several additional planned priorities such as enhancing ethics standards for commissioners, commission candidates and county employees and banning county tax questions from April ballots or special elections. He would like to restructure and reduce county sales and property taxes, tackle efficiency and long term budgeting and build reserves.
Elliott supports renewal of the parks tax to support maintenance and stormwater projects, but at a lower rate, and with inclusion of law enforcement needs.
“I support a tax question that designates one-quarter cent for parks and stormwater and one-quarter cent for law enforcement and prosecution,” Elliott said. “This would shift $4,225,000 of law enforcement funding from general revenue to a dedicated sales tax. This would free up that much in general revenue so that the commission could then look at an actual increase in law enforcement funding and reserves.”
He is in agreement with Buckley that Shiloh Springs Golf Course has cost the county enough.
“I don’t want to see it closed, but I do want it off the county’s books and I believe there are a couple of ways of doing that,” Elliott said.