Two write-ins vie for county commission nomination

Voters in Marion County?s District 1 will face a rare situation when they cast a ballot in next Tues?day?s primary election for someone to represent them on the Board of Commis?sioners.
Neither Republicans nor Democrats will see a name listed for that office.
Roger Fleming, who currently represents District 1, announced June 2 that he would not seek re-election in November, citing personal reasons.
No other candidates had filed for the position before the June 2 deadline. District 1 includes Hillsboro and northwest Marion County.

County Clerk Tina Spencer said her office hasn?t seen this situation for many years?at least.
?If it ever happened (in Marion County), it has been a long time?but I can?t say it never happened,? Spencer said. ?Most of the time, someone steps up, even at the last minute.?
Three hopefuls

Since Fleming?s decision, three people have announced their intention to be write-in candidates.

The first to announce, Craig Dodd, owner of Chisholm Trail Outfitters in Hillsboro, won?t be involved in the Aug. 5 primary election because he is not affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Instead, Dodd was required to file by petition for the November general election.
?(Unaffiliated candidates) are required to have valid signatures on a nomination petition from at least 4 percent of all registered voters in their district and must pay the $35 state filing fee,? Spencer said.
The filling deadline for unaffiliated candidates is noon Aug. 4.
Spencer confirmed last week that Dodd has successfully filed as an unaffiliated candidate, and his name will appear on the general election ballot in November.
The other two write-in candidates, Lori Lalouette Crawford, a Hillsboro attorney, and Donald Ewert, a retired farmer-stockman from the Durham area, are options for the position on the Republican ballot. Ewert indicated his interest within the past two weeks.
To be considered a qualifying candidate for the general election, one or both candidates need to receive a minimum of 134 write-in votes Aug. 5.
If both candidates meet the minimum, the candidate with the most votes will be declared the winner and will have her or his name printed on the general election in November.
The November ballot also will include a blank line for additional write-ins, Spencer said.
Voting for a write-in

To cast a legitimate write-in vote, voters must print the name of the candidate they prefer, then also fill in the oval next to it. The name does not have to be spelled perfectly.
?In Kansas, we do our best to determine voter intent,? Spencer said. ?If we can determine that the voter intended to cast a vote for a certain candidate?even if the name is misspelled?it will be counted.
?If we are unable to determine what the voter meant, or if we can?t read what they wrote, it would not count.?
Spencer said if neither write-in receives the minimum 134 votes on the Republican ballot, neither will have their name printed on the November ballot.
?They can still try to get write-in votes in November, where they will face at least one opponent (Dodd),? she said.
?In November, a write-in candidate does not have a minimum requirement (of votes),? she added. ?Who?ever gets the most votes, wins?as long as the candidate is in the right district and is registered to vote and legally qualified to run for the office.?
Once the primary is over, it is still possible for a candidate to launch a write-in campaign for the general election in November, Spencer said.
Candidate responses

The Free Press sent questions to the two declared Republican write-in candidates, asking for responses of 150 words or less for each question.
Their responses follow in alphabetical order based on the candidate?s last name.

DONALD EWERT

n Your write-in name: Donald Ewert.
n Age: 90.

n Family: Geraldine Ewert is my wife. I have three children, 10 grandchildren.
n Occupational background: Farmer and stockman, now retired.
n Previous civic or political involvement in Marion County: Nine years (three terms) on the board of directors of the Durham, Tampa, Lincolnville Oil Co-op Gas Co.
n Why did you decide to become a write-in candidate?
I read in the Free Press that Roger (Fleming) wasn?t running, so I decided to run. I am a longtime resident of Marion County and have some experience on the board of directors for nine years.

n What have you done since your decision to become familiar with your responsibilities as a county commissioner?
That?s really not a fair question for me. (The other write-in candidate?s) husband works there with the county commissioners.?He?s bridge and road foreman. He can give her some nice, fancy answers and mine will look dumb.
n In your view, what are the three most important tasks of county government, and why?
To do the best we can with the funds we have, and watch out that we don?t have so much waste.

LORI LALOUETTE CRAWFORD

n Your write-in name: Voters may write in either Lori Lalouette-Crawford, or Lori Crawford, or Lori Lalouette.

n Age: 43.

n Family: My husband is Randy Crawford and we have resided in Hillsboro in the Willow Glen subdivision since December 2009.
n Occupational background: I am the attorney and owner of Lalouette Law, located in Hillsboro, which opened in 2009. I practice in a wide variety of legal areas. I also serve as the city attorney for Lincolnville and Lehigh.
n Previous civic or political involvement in Marion County: I served on the Hillsboro Chamber of Com?merce Board of Direc?tors for 2011 and 2012, and was a member of the Hills?boro Kiwanis Club from 2011 to 2013. I currently am a member of the Marion County Bar Association and donate money, sponsor various local activities, events, associations.
n Why did you decide to become a write-in candidate?
As a Marion County native and local business owner, I care about the future of the county, and becoming a Republican write-in candidate gives me the opportunity to take a leadership role in the county and help make a difference. I would provide competent and diligent representative for the county because of my diverse background, analytical nature and business experience.
I am a Marion County native, grew up on a farm/ranch outside Florence and graduated from Marion High School. My parents and grandparents all were born and lived in Marion County. I know the unique issues Marion County residents face and I also know firsthand how the county has lost residents, businesses and income streams as compared to 25-30 years ago. I believe solid leadership is needed to turn these trends around.
I consider myself to be a forward, progressive, ?outside the box? thinker and visionary, which I believe will enable the county to grow and prosper. I offer a fresh perspective, analytical thinking and a different viewpoint than has been traditionally provided, which makes progress possible. In order to achieve progress, I believe concentration on efficiency, productivity, proficiency and innovation are key factors.
n What have you done since your decision to become familiar with your responsibilities as a county commissioner?
I have reviewed approximately 1.5 years of county commission meeting minutes from Jan. 7, 2013, through July 17, 2014. I will continue reviewing current meeting minutes. Reviewing the meeting minutes have offered a concise and time efficient means to review issues and responsibilities of a commissioner. I also obtained the 2014 County Budget, for all departments, and have reviewed and studied it.

Additionally, I spoke to Dan Holub, current county commissioner, to review the responsibilities and duties as a commissioner since he has served for 10 years.

Furthermore, since my husband, Randy Crawford, attends weekly commission meetings as road and bridge superintendent, and frequently deals with the commissioners, he has provided me with tremendous insight into the responsibilities and duties of a commissioner from his perspective.

n What are the three most important tasks of county government, and why?
If I was elected county commissioner, my focus would be to improve the quality of life for the Marion County residents and focus on resident retention and retention of young people in the county, while attracting new residents and business.

My approach focuses on the following important governmental tasks (not in any particular order): quality education; infrastructure and public works (roads, bridges, buildings, utilities, sewer, water, trash, etc.); public services such as medical, police, fire and EMS; economic development; and parks, lakes, recreation.

Without an adequate population and sufficient labor pool, the county cannot attract new industry or focus on the expansion of existing county businesses. A declining population results in less state funding for school programs and collection of less property and sales taxes, thus resulting in reduced County services.

Additionally, recreation is a factor and the Marion County Lake and Marion Reservoir provide a tremendous source of revenue (through out-of-town visitors) and quality of life for county residents. Focusing on the algae reduction and beautification and maintenance of both lakes will help improve not only the quality of life but help increase county tax revenue.

Economic development must include attraction of industry and expansion of existing businesses in order to provide good paying jobs to residents. I favor tax incentives and abatements (for 5-10 years, not lifetime) and other monetary incentives in order to attract new businesses (not for the Keystone Pipeline) to the county.

Additionally, in order to make improvements without increasing taxes, additional income streams must be leveraged. I favor taking advantage of grants and other state and federal fund-matching programs.
n What is your understanding of potential ?conflict of interest? issues regarding the Road and Bridge Depart?ment, given that your husband is the department director?
There is no conflict of interest for me to vote on departmental road-bridge issues because a two-thirds vote from the council is required to pass any measure, and I will not solely have power to pass a measure. If there are personnel matters directly concerning my husband?such as pay raises, disciplinary or other matters?I would have to abstain from voting due to my relationship with him.
I have reviewed the county?s nepotism policy, which does not allow an employee to work in the same department where their relative is the department head. The policy does not apply to commissioners, as their responsibilities are different than department heads.
However, there are situations where I must put aside any personal feelings related to a client or matter and perform my job. I am confident I can do this as well when it comes to road and bridge matters.

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