Five Republicans will be on the primary ballot May 8 vying to represent the party in the November general election for an empty DeKalb County commissioner seat.
The field includes Junior Shaffer, Jackie Rowan, James A. Miller, Dave Bassett and Kevin M. Webb. DeKalb County commissioners serve four-year terms and receive annual salaries of $2,402.
Ronald Bud Creager will also be on the ballot, but he said he is not seeking the office. He sought to withdraw from the race for health reasons, but the deadline to do so had passed, and his name could not be taken off the ballot, he said.
The incumbent, Don Kaufman, opted not to run for re-election after nearly 16 years of representing the county’s northeast district.
Kevin Webb, owner of Webb Concrete Construction and chairman of the Union Township Advisory Board, said he believes his management and logistical skills are a good match for the work of a county commissioner, particularly dealing with building and road projects.
A lot of my situations (as a contractor) are analyzing what’s going on and figuring out the best solution, he said.
Webb said he has bid on county jobs in the past but never done work for the county. I’m not looking to advance my business at all in this position, he said.
He would like to improve communication between the commissioners, County Council, department heads and taxpayers – and to streamline county services.
Sometimes you have to visit three different departments to get something done, he said. I just want to look at areas of keeping government efficient.
Jackie Rowan hopes to step from her current post as county recorder to a spot as a commissioner. Before she was recorder, she was the county’s Circuit Court clerk.
I felt that my past experience is an asset to the county, and I look forward to serving local government with integrity and efficiency, she said.
Rowan favors keeping the commissioners a three-member board rather than replacing it with a single executive, as suggested by a state commission.
My biggest reason for being against it is because I really feel people in the county would lose their voice, she said.
Dave Bassett, president of Bassett Office Furniture & Supplies, has been in business for 34 years and is making his first run for public office.
I know I’m honest and trustworthy, he said. I’m a Christian, I’m a conservative, I’m a Republican, and in that order.
Bassett sees economic development as a key issue. I think we need to position our county to the best possible position to attract more industry to DeKalb County, he said.
He offered up a few ideas he’d like to make reality if elected. One proposal is to use a small part of the county-run farm to create a vegetable garden that would be tended by people fulfilling court-ordered community service requirements.
He said the work would build self-worth for the gardeners and that the produce could help feed residents at the Sunny Meadows retirement home and inmates at the county jail, with the balance donated to a food bank.
Bassett would also like county-owned properties that do not sell after more than one tax sale to be donated to Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit group that provides housing to those in need.
Jim Miller, a farmer and trucking company owner, said he would bring his business experience to the seat.
I’ve had to make a lot of conservative decisions, for both the trucking company and the farm, to survive, he said.
Miller also touted his experience with budgets and county politics gained during 12 years on the DeKalb Central School Board and six years on the county plan commission.
I think I can make a difference, he said. I’m very concerned about taxes.
A major issue for him is ensuring that the state gives the county more money for maintaining roads and bridges.
We’re behind on bridge replacement, he said. We need to work on getting additional money to make our improvements.
Junior Shaffer, a retired industrial worker, said he decided to run because he now has time to become involved in local government.
I want to go in there with an open mind and work for the people of DeKalb County to make it as good a place as we can, he said.
Shaffer predicts that finding money for road repair will be a challenge and that the county will have to do more with less.
I don’t want any more taxes put on these people up here, he said.
The people have suffered enough.
He believes every candidate in the race would make a fine commissioner.
Whoever gets it is going to do a good job, he said.
The winner will advance to the general election in November.
No Democrats have filed for the seat.