Picture of election precinct

Scott Long – Republican

1. Tell us about yourself.

Scott Long

I am a very fortunate individual. I have a wonderful wife who tolerates me, five fabulous children who are all doing great in their chosen pathways, (one as a freshman at Cabool High School) and I am thankful I live in a place where common sense is still somewhat common.

I spent 30 years of my life teaching high school agriculture, most of that time in and around Texas County. My wife Sheila was born at Texas County Memorial Hospital and graduated from Cabool. She is why I came here but the people and the communities within the county are what made me stay. I have worked with or taught some of the most amazing people who have touched my life so deeply. 

My wife manages the operation of our USDA Processing Plant in Cabool and we also run cattle on about 400 acres in the Houston and Cabool area. I am a true believer that hard work and dedication lead to success and that success is measured by the friends you have, not the dollars in your bank account.

2. What works well in Texas County government?

I would have to say the people. We have some wonderful elected officials but the people I refer to are the individuals who come to work every day and do the work necessary for the county to function. During my first term in office , there have been numerous times employees for the county have been asked to perform duties they may not be accustomed to doing but each time the job got done. What works well in Texas County government is the employees who make things happen. Next time you see one please say thank you because they have earned it.

3. Where would you like to see improvements or implement new programs?

There are many improvements  and programs that would be nice to have or would make things easier to do but with all of this comes a cost. The county needs first to focus our attention on the programs we have and make sure they are sustainable within the budget we have. I believe we must make sure our current employees are paid a wage they can live on, buy groceries for their families. If we need to improve anything, it first should be the wages of our current employees, not some new program that may or may not benefit the taxpayer. I believe the job of the commissioner is to make sure the taxpayer gets the biggest return on the taxes they pay and the commission must do this with a balanced budget. 

4. Texas County residents began paying a three-eighth cent sales tax Oct. 1 for law enforcement purposes. What should be the priorities for expenditures from the new revenue stream?

First I would like to say thank you to the voters who passed this improvement to law enforcement in our county. I believe this will make a huge difference. You asked what should be the priorities for expenditures for the new revenue? I believe the citizens of this county were told that we as commissioners would continue to fund law enforcement at the same level as before. The commission will continue this in the same manner as before. I believe the sheriff and those in his department know best as to how to spend the new money available. I believe the commission needs to oversee the budget but the cheriff knows the law enforcement needs of the county better than any commission. I believe it will be up to him to determine the best way to serve the public.

5. What should be Texas County’s role in economic development?

I look at economic development like a conservationist looks at quail population, If we are going to bring quail to an area we must provide the things quail need, food, water and shelter.

If we are going to bring industry to Texas County we must provide the things necessary for that industry to survive. First and foremost our county must have a workforce ready to go to work, not individuals who are satisfied with what the government will provide for them but individuals who want more out of life for themselves and their children. We need our schools and our parents instilling a sense of worth in our youth. 

Secondly, the county needs improvement to our infrastructure. The commission not only needs to work with MoDOT to improve our highway system  (four lanes on Highway 63) but also needs to develop a way to get more dollars to our townships to improve the flow of agricultural commodities to market. If the farmer or rancher can’t move his product to market due to poor roads and bridges then who will be buying tires in town or groceries at our store? Let us not forget about broadband. Without reliable and dependable internet service our rural areas will not prosper. 

Thirdly, to develop our local economy we must have affordable housing for our employees to buy or rent. What little housing we have in our county is expensive for a family to afford. 

These are all areas of the economy that I have been working on in my first term. I have attended several meetings concerning each of these areas, working closely with community leaders to address and find solutions to these problems. I believe the commission must be involved but the government is not the answer to improving our local economies. The people are.

6.  Anything else?

I have spent the last four years learning how to navigate through various aspects of local and state government as well as federal programs sent to the county. Each one has been a learning experience I will remember forever. It is an honor to serve the citizens of Texas County and a position I do not take lightly. I have tried to listen and evaluate situations. I have made decisions that I will defend and some I wish I had not made but overall I have no regrets. I would appreciate the opportunity to serve as your Presiding Commissioner for another term if the people of this county allow me that privilege.

 Lee Kern – Democrat

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

Lee Kern

My name is Donald Lee Kern III, but I have gone by Lee my whole life. I am 29 years old and have lived a majority of my life here in Texas County. I graduated from Houston High School in 2011. Then in 2012 I started working at H&R Block. In 2017 a dear friend ( colleague, associate ) and I began an animal rescue, which has come to be known as Houston Animal Hero’s. Together we have rescued, networked and placed over 350 animals and counting.

In 2019 I ventured out and moved to Arizona. While I enjoyed exploring new experiences I soon began to miss the small town life; so I moved back home nine months later. Since then, I have volunteered with Weecare Daycare to play a part in their Christmas and Easter pictures. I have now worked at H&R Block for 11 years. During those years I have met some extraordinary people who reside in Texas County. As a young child my parents Don and Ellen Kern, put much emphasis in teaching me that being active in our community is vital to a thriving future. They were both on the Lynch Township board and my mother was also on the Success School Board. After seeing my mother and father doing their part and helping our community, I now understand the importance; and will continue doing my part to help better our community.

2. What works well in Texas County government?

Working as a team and having open communication would benefit Texas County government the most. Currently I don’t see a lot of teamwork or communication happening within our local government. There is a lot of bickering between government officials, government officials not receiving funds in which they were entitled, and our commissioners being taken to court for not paying bills they were required to pay. This isn’t teamwork. Without teamwork from all our elected officials, Texas County will remain stagnant and will not grow to its full potential. We should support our local boards and communities and provide clear communication to our citizens. I believe that our commissioners should be doing more for the county. As our county’s commissioner I would be going to local board meetings and hearing the questions and concerns, and helping to find solutions in order for success.

Right now our residents don’t feel heard. They have reached out to the commissioners and complained about issues and they feel they have been tossed on the back burner. As government officials, they must remember that they work for the people of Texas County and without them they would not be necessary. If elected Presiding Commissioner, I want to make sure we all do our best to fix issues that Texas County citizens have. I want to see our county succeed and grow and we can’t do that alone. Texas County needs to come together with all the elected officials, all the local boards, and most importantly our citizens, to be able to finally work as a team.

 3. Where would you like to seek improvements or implement new programs?

First I would like to seek out and hire a grant writer. Grants would be a massive benefit for our county government. Grants allow for new programs to be implemented and funded. This job would pay for itself in just a few years time and provide new programs and funding to Texas County. With the help of a grant writer, I want to create a youth outreach program and open centers throughout Texas County. As well as reopen an animal shelter which is a very large need for this county.

Youth Outreach 

Our youth have little to do here in Texas County. There are limited after school activities and not any arcades or places for youth to spend their free time. Due to little activities for the youth to take part in, a lot of the youth find alternative ways to occupy their time. 

We are failing our youth in this county. We need to be passionate and supportive of our youth’s goals and dreams. The youth need to feel valued and heard. I want these youth programs to be a judge free zone, a place for our youth to go to find support no matter their situation. After all our youth is the future of tomorrow  

Animal Shelter 

Our last animal shelter was a great asset to this county. In 2017 they shut their doors and since then Texas County has seen a flood of abandoned and unwanted pets. I have been rescuing pets for about six years now and I have seen some of the worst animal abuse and neglect cases here within our county. 

I have two ideas on how we can bring an animal shelter back to Texas County. We can apply for grants to open a county run animal shelter– or we can work with larger shelters in bigger cities that are located in Missouri, to open an extension of their shelter here. This would bring programs like low-cost spay and neuter clinics, low-cost vaccines, and so much more. This would benefit a lot of our residents here and prevent unwanted litters and pets.

 4. Texas County residents began paying a three-eighth cent sales tax Oct. 1 for law enforcement purposes. What should be the priorities for expenditures from the new revenue stream?

With this new source of revenue comes a lot of responsibility. First and foremost, we need to make sure our jailers and deputies receive their raise. These men and women risk their lives for us and work with people who are dangerous every day. They deserve a fair wage. When I decided to run for presiding commissioner and the tax levy was passed, I reached out to some of our jailers to see what they believed was needed. Out of all the jailers I spoke with, they all agreed that more training was vital to their success. Right now, our jailers feel they are hired and thrown into the job with no training. They feel they aren’t taught about inmate handling, transporting inmates, defense, medical, or what to do in the case of a natural disaster (fire, tornado, earthquake). Jailers and deputies deserve proper training. They need this information prior to beginning work to keep them, as well as the inmates, safe. An upgrade to our facility and equipment would benefit our jailers as well as our deputies in keeping everyone safe. Lastly, we need to set aside money for emergency repairs. As of a few weeks ago, there was no heat in one of the pods that houses the inmates and they currently only have one working washer and dryer. We have to make sure our jailers and deputies feel safe, protected, and valued.

5. What should be Texas County’s role in economic development?

Economic growth is vital for our county. Texas County is the fourth poorest county in Missouri. As commissioner, I plan on working with all of our elected officials in order to support existing businesses, recruit new businesses, and encourage more educational opportunities for our youth. Which, in return, will bring economic growth and prosperity to Texas County. An alarming amount of our youth are leaving the county and looking for better life opportunities elsewhere. If we supported our youth, starting at home, they would be more willing to stay in the county. 

We should encourage the opening of new businesses as well. This county was founded on the blood, sweat, and tears of young men and women that wanted to make a life for themselves. Texas County used to have a lot of “mom and pop” stores, although most have closed up due to lack of support. 

I believe a grant writer could benefit economic growth by providing more opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs. We should also look into ways to support our local stores and businesses. The county could hold more local events, where business owners could set up vending booths to promote their business. This would in return, bring awareness of new products that could be bought right here in Texas County, thus allowing for our economy to grow.

6. Anything else?

I would just like to say that I want all our residents to feel heard. As presiding commissioner, I will do my very best to keep the citizens of Texas county informed. I plan to start quarterly town halls where the citizens of Texas County can come in and hear what we are working on, and to also voice concerns and issues you may have. If you would like to contact me please feel free to do so. You can find me on Facebook at Lee Kern for Presiding Commissioner or call or text me at 573–247–7842. I am here for you! On Nov. 8 please get out and vote. Make yourself heard! I also want to say thank you to the Houston Herald for this opportunity and thank you to every citizen that reads this.

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