Phelps County Commissioner Charles “Bud” Dean faces a challenge from Rolla City Council Gary Hicks in Tuesday’s election.

Phelps County Commissioner Charles “Bud” Dean faces a challenge from Rolla City Council Gary Hicks in Tuesday’s election.

Both men have conducted low-key campaigns. They’ve spoken at their respective party events and at the tea party forum.

Dean, a Democrat, is in his 12th year on the commission, representing what is now called District No. 2. Hicks has served on the city council since April 2005.

The two stress financial frugality in their public statements.

Speaking at a Democrat party gathering in September, Dean said the county faces the same financial questions that families have as they look at income that remains steady while costs increase.

Fuel costs in particular are increasing sharply, Dean said, and this impacts the road and bridge department, the health department and the sheriff’s department most heavily.

“We’ll do the best we can with what we have in a fair and equitable budget,” Dean said.

Hicks points to his work on the city budget and his service on the council’s audit committee.

Also, Hicks pledged at a Republican function in September that if elected, he will quit his job at Meek’s and work full-time for the county, paying particular attention to economic development, if he is elected.

At an October Tea Party forum attended by both men, they were asked about a Sept. 18 Missouri Eastern District Court of Appeals ruling requiring Warren County to comply with Warrenton city building codes and permit requirements for a county administration building inside the city. The question was: “By extension, do you think this ruling could, in the future, imply that the county could assert its sovereignty over the state or federal government?” Neither candidate answered that question directly, saying only that they would follow the law, or the law as interpreted by a court.

“We will follow the law,” Dean said.

Hicks said if a court rules that other political subdivisions could be fined, he is sure the city of Rolla will levy fines.

Regarding a two-part question about the increasing of transparency for the commission and whether agendas and minutes should be posted online and made available to the newspaper, both candidates agreed the commission is already open to the public.

In fact, Hicks said that he has found the meetings he has attended to be quite open with county residents coming in and out of the meeting room for business and information.

Dean said few closed sessions are ever held. He noted that minutes are open to the public. Agendas are posted 24 hours in advance, but they are subject to change as residents are free to attend and bring up issues.

A lengthy series of questions focused on the county’s application for hazard mitigation funds to replace some low-water bridges and the Tea Party’s concern that this will require federal prevailing wages to be paid. Also, the Tea Party indicated concern that receiving of these federal funds signs over the right of local self-government to the federal bureaucracy.

Both candidates noted federal prevailing wages are required for government projects paid for by tax money. Neither indicated a belief that rights will be stripped away.

Finally, the candidates were asked about a road connecting the North Outer Road west of Love’s Truck Stop to County Road 2000. Both said they would support such a road if funding is available and the city, county and state could cooperate on the project.

Hicks assured the audience that a roundabout proposed for V Highway near Love’s Truck Stop has been shelved due to lack of right-of-way. The audience applauded.