Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Getting a Grip Rivals for Job of Commissioner Argue Strategy

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Getting a Grip Rivals for Job of Commissioner Argue Strategy

Article excerpt

The major issue in the contest for the Democratic nomination for presiding commissioner of Lincoln County seems to be the best approach to take in tackling the county's problems.

The incumbent, Russell Cox, is seeking his third consecutive four-year term as presiding commissioner, a job that pays $22,000 a year. Cox, 59, who still works on his farm part-time, said he planned to continue to study and work on projects the commission has started in recent months.

The challengers, Ronald Hopkins and Glen Braden, said the problems that were accompanying the county's continuing growth required a presiding commissioner who would be creative in developing solutions.

Both are running for office for the first time.

"I don't like to waste my money," said Hopkins, 42, an apartment manager for Jeffrey E. Smith Investments.

"I see our tax dollars being wasted. I've basically complained over the years and that didn't work, so I decided to become a candidate, get elected and fix it myself," he said.

Braden, 54, said all three commissioners should be more responsive to county residents and cooperative in seeking reasonable solutions to problems.

"The thing I think needs to be put in is accountability," said Braden, a self-employed handyman.

"As it stands now, the commissioners act as though they are not accountable to anyone," he said.

Cox disputes both claims by noting his willingness to work with residents to find a consensus on resolving the crowded jail situation.

Lincoln County voters defeated in April a proposal for a new county jail and courthouse by 306 votes. The commissioners sought approval of a one-fourth cent sales tax that would have paid for a $4 million county jail and courthouse.

The current jail, built in 1979 to hold 20 inmates, averages 35 to 40 a day. The additional prisoners are housed in jails in other counties, and Lincoln County pays about $150,000 a year in fees to house prisoners outside its jurisdiction.

The commissioners have not decided whether to submit the proposal to the voters again in November. …

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