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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Democratic candidates share their experience, vision and goals

  • Paul Long, Democratic candidate for Phelps County clerk, says he understands the depth and breadth of the job he is seeking, but he wants it anyway.
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  • Paul Long, Democratic candidate for Phelps County clerk, says he understands the depth and breadth of the job he is seeking, but he wants it anyway.
    “It’s a big, big position,” Long said at the Democratic candidates forum held Friday night, June 6, at the monthly meeting of the Democratic Club of Phelps County. “I think the position will be interesting, challenging and time-consuming, and I’m more than willing to do it.”
    Long has no opposition in the August primary. In November, he will face either Pamela Grow or Rosalind Breske, both of Rolla, who are seeking the Republican nomination.
    Current Phelps County Clerk Carol Bennett, a Democrat, will retire from public office when her term ends this year.
    “I’ve got a big set of shoes to fill, and I think I’m up to that challenge,” Long told the Democrats in the meeting at the Phelps County Courthouse multi-purpose room.
    Although the clerk is the chief elections officer in the county and the officeholder’s role in registering voters, setting up polling places and counting ballots is widely recognized, the job is far more than that, Long said.
    The clerk’s job is to work with all other officeholders in budgeting, act as the human resources officer in the courthouse, attend commission meetings and set the agenda, he said. There are various other requirements too numerous to mention, he said.
    If he is elected as the new Phelps County clerk, Long said, he would focus on a smooth transition, maintaining consistency with what has been done.
    A lifelong Phelps County resident, Long said he has taught school but has worked the last 18 years in sales, now with Triad’s Office Equipment.
    Associate Circuit Judge Ken Clayton, Rolla, appointed by the governor to complete the unexpired term of William Hickle when Hickle was elected circuit judge two years ago, is seeking to be elected to the job of associate circuit judge, division 2.
    He has no opposition in the primary. In November, he’ll face Republican Mark Calvert, Rolla, not John Beger, as erroneously reported Monday; Beger is running for circuit judge in division 2.
    Clayton noted that he has been practicing law since 1995.
    “This job is very different from practicing law,” he said.
    He works with Judge Ron White, the associate circuit judge in division 1 and the probate judge. White handles criminal cases and probate. Clayton handles landlord-tenant conflicts, family court, orders of protection, juvenile court and small claims court.
    “I have enjoyed it,” Clayton said, all that is, except for juvenile cases, which “will tear your heart out.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Clayton also says he performs weddings on Monday afternoons.
    Noting that he has many “very good people on my committee,” including Emma Lou Brent, he told the Democrats he would beg for their support. “I will do whatever I need to do,” he said. “This group is the core for success for Democratic candidates in Phelps County.”
    Clayton said he has been a public defender, a prosecuting attorney, a private practice attorney and now a judge. He believes his position “on the bench” offers him the most opportunity to affect positively both the community and people’s lives individually.
    “I want to be on the side where you can do some good. A good person can do a lot of good. I think I’m that person,” Clayton said.
    Zech Hockersmith, of St. James, a teacher at Boys and Girls Town, is running for the 120th Legislative District seat. He is a candidate for both the special election to complete the term of Republican Jason Smith and the August primary.
    In the special election, he faces Republican Shawn Sisco, Rolla. In the primary, he is opposed by Democrat Robert Mesger, Sullivan, for the nomination. Whoever is nominated will face either Sisco or Jason Chipman, St. James, in the November election.
    Hockersmith said he will serve with integrity, conviction and courage. He said it is important to elect people who can be trusted to respond to the will of the people. Otherwise, “we are heading toward a barbarous society.”
    Attorney Lance Thurman spoke on behalf of Judge White, who faces no opposition in August, but will be challenged by Brian Woolley, Rolla, in November. White was unable to attend due to a prior commitment.
    “Judge White is ...  one of the most learned judges I’ve ever had the privilege of practicing before,” Thurman said. “He has been prosecuting attorney and defense lawyer. He has practiced before the Missouri Supreme Court and all levels of appellate courts.”
    In all that, he has handled every kind of case. White has eight years of experience as probate and division 1 judge, Thurman said. “Remember that experience counts when you go to the polls.”
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