County Commission Candidates Speak

The Hillsboro Free Press reached out to the three Marion County commission candidates vying for the newly created District 4 position. The candidates, David Crofoot, Amy Soyez and Trayce Warner, were all asked the same questions with a request for them to be as brief as possible. In addition, each candidate was asked to include some personal information about themselves.

The newly created District 4 includes the townships of Gale (Canada), Centre (Marion City North and Marion County Park and Lake), Wilson (Aulne), Fairplay (west part of Florence) and Doyle (East part of Florence).


The following are answers submitted by Republican candidate David Crofoot:

Q. What one part of county government would receive more attention if you were elected?

A. There is no one department that stands out. I plan to look at all of them. I think the department heads are doing a great job. I’ve been attending commission meetings since I was nominated by the Marion County Republican Party, so I can get started right away as I’m up to speed on what is happening in the county now.

Q. What do you see as the most pressing needs for infrastructure or capital projects in the county?

A. Roads should be number one because that’s what people use every day, and it seems to have problems getting done. We also need to get our equipment updated and in good working order, with a five to 10-year plan on equipment upgrades and keep to it. Also, we need a plan in place to update and install high-speed internet in the entire county.

Q. Should the county be encouraging building and development?

A. Yes! The county needs more small businesses, and if we provide internet service, a small business could startup anywhere in the county. This would also help existing businesses as they would be able to use the improved Internet to read the outside of Marion County. We also need more housing. If we had that available we could expand our workforce. More people would mean lower taxes.

Q. What is your experience with preparing or authorizing budgets?

A. I have been involved with a multi-million dollar business that has been in business for 63 years. I have a working knowledge of budgets and experience managing a workforce. Western Associates has over 30 employees in Marion and 35 salespeople nationwide.

Q. If new resources were available, what one area of county services would you feel most needs additional resources?

A. I’m sure all departments would say they need more money. But, we really need to update our infrastructure which would be beneficial to the whole county. We would be able to solicit new business and could increase the population.

Q. Are county taxes too high, about right or pleasantly low? Explain.

A. Taxes are always too high. To lower taxes what’s needed is more business and to increase the population. This would help create more local sales tax. We need to set budgets that are reasonable and reachable. And, we need to listen and depend on the department heads knowledge to set budgets, which will help lower taxes.

Q. Would citizens get more effective services at a better rate if some county functions were handled by private providers?

A. No. The private sector is for profit. I would like the county to be run like a business that would service all the county’s needs and not outsource. That way, we could make informed decisions without the need for outside council.

Q. What are some of our county’s biggest issues and challenges?

A. This year it was the roads. We have to get them functioning. We cannot expect people to move to Marion County if they can’t get around the county. If we are trying to get more people to move to the county we are going to have to offer faster Internet service and roads to all parts of the county. As a commission, we need to listen to all sides of the issues and work together for the good of the county, and not special interests.

Q. What can be done to make the county more efficient and more effective? Would a county administrator help in that process?

If we do get an (county) administrator, I hope we get the right person. They need to be able to coordinate the department heads to work as a team so they are going in the same direction. This way there would be no duplication or exceptions of the goals of the commission

Personal information: He and his wife, Jackie Fender Crofoot, have three children and three grandchildren. He started working at Western Associates in 1973, and in 1987, took on more responsibility in the family business. Western Associates now sells in all 50 states.


The following answers were submitted by Independent candidate Amy Soyez:

Q. What one part of county government would receive more attention if you were elected?

A. Actually, listening to the people that vote me into office.

Q. What do you see as the most pressing needs for infrastructure or capital projects in the county?

A. We cannot just depend on our current tax base for carrying us in the future, but rather we should look for new opportunities and businesses to come into Marion County.

Q. Should the county be encouraging building and development?

A. Yes. This would also entice the younger generation to stay in Marion County and they would want to invest in Marion County.

Q. What is your experience with preparing or authorizing budgets?

A. I have handled my territory budget annually for the past 15 years at Merck Animal Health. This budget has many variables, and through the years, we have added four more budgets, that are managed on top of our territory’s annual budget. I also help clinics with their financials, budgets, return on investments, where they will be the most profitable and help them grow. I am a partner with my veterinary clinics to help them profit and grow. I also manage our ranching budget. This has variables with weather and also markets to manage, and knowing when to sell cattle.

Q. If new resources were available, what one area of county services would you feel most needs additional resources?

A. The road and bridge department. This is not the fault of the road and bridge department because the staff is only able to handle the issues with the tools and budgets they are provided. We need to invest in our county employees.

Q. Are county taxes too high, about right or pleasantly low? Explain.

A. Taxes are too high in our county for the services people are receiving.

Q. Would citizens get more effective services at a better rate if some county functions were handled by private providers?

A. Not necessarily. We do a poor job currently by not looking at the people and resources we have within our own county. We have many residents that have done jobs, but we chose to seek outside consultants when we could have utilized the residents’ expertise instead.

Q. What are some of our county’s biggest issues and challenges? We are poor negotiators?

A. We fail to listen to our residents and have too many personal agendas. We are currently looking for an outside lawyer to represent our county dealing with Expedition Wind. This will be on the taxpayers’ dime. This is one example where we should be charging this back to Expedition Wind, but instead, it’s going to cost our county dollars. We need to set high standards and expectations for all outside companies wishing to operate within Marion County. This needs to be done in a fair and efficient manner with the thought of future growth.

Q. What can be done to make the county more efficient and more effective?

A. We could be more effective if we were to collect our back taxes. We cannot afford a county administrator right now. With this being said, we have an outside accounting firm handling our budget, which could be done by an administrator having an accounting degree. Also, the county commissioners could take a pay cut that would free up funds to help pay for an administrator. In turn, it would help with efficiency, but it would first require a positive taxpayer vote in favor of an administrator.

Personal information: Amy, and husband Jeffrey Soyez, reside in Aulne, which is just south of the city of Marion. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wichita State University in integrated marketing communications with a business minor in marketing. She is employed at Merck Animal Health as a territory sales manager and manages more than a $7 million sales territory, of which she started at a $3 million territory. She has worked there for 15 years.

Prior to working at Merck, and before she was in the financial world, Soyez said she was a trainer for restaurants within the state of Kansas. She and her husband have a small cow/calf operation, raise and train working border collies, and own horses. I have learned what it’s like to live in Marion County, drive the county roads, help fix fence, road equipment from pasture to pasture, load cattle and various other aspects of daily life in a ranching/farming community.


The following answers were submitted by Democratic candidate Trayce Warner:

Q. What one part of county government would receive more attention if you were elected?

A. The budget, including long-range planning.

Q. What do you see as the most pressing needs for infrastructure or capital projects in the county?

A. Roads!

Q. Should the county be encouraging building and development?

A. There are already a couple of programs available to promote business growth. I would like to see Internet access spread into the rural areas and have it be more cost competitive and reliable.

Q. What is your experience with preparing or authorizing budgets?

A. Twelve years on the Florence City Council, and asking lots of questions in those 12 years.

Q. If new resources were available, what one area of county services would you feel most needs additional resources?

A. Roads!

Q. Are county taxes too high, about right or pleasantly low? Explain.

A. Taxes are probably about right, but as a funding source not high enough. More revenue equals more services.

Q. Would citizens get more effective services at a better rate if some county functions were handled by private providers?

A. Experts might be more effective and innovative. However, expertise comes at a high cost. Education and training for current employees could also work.

Q. What are some of our county’s biggest issues and challenges?

A. Effectively negotiating and managing wind farm issues. Another area would be road maintenance. I think the county engineer is making headway toward a more detailed plan, but the proper equipment, and well-trained employees is key, though.

Q. What can be done to make the county more efficient and more effective? Would a county administrator help in that position.

A. I have not been in favor of a county administrator, but after watching the county engineer, and his progress, that MAY be an important step.

Personal information: Trayce Warner, and her husband, Mike, have been married for 40 years, and residents of Florence for 30 years. They raised three children in Florence, who all graduated from Marion High School.

She has spent 12 years on the Florence City Council. In addition to serving on the council, she has also served her community as a Florence Chamber of Commerce member for 20 years, and on the Florence Labor Day Committee for 22 years. She was an EMT in Florence for 10 years, and a 2007 graduate of the Leadership Marion County program-serving five years on its board of directors.