By Jessica Benz
The two remaining members of the Prairie County Board of Commissioners interviewed potential candidates as they worked towards filling the seat vacated by Bill Leach.
With the search for candidates clouded by confusion over district designation, and few names to consider early on in the search, Larry Keltner, Prairie County Republican committee chair, was able to deliver four names to the commissioners for consideration. Rick Harding, Deanna Bockness, Arline Koppenhaver, and Mark Dolatta were invited in on Tuesday for individual interviews with the commissioners.
The interviews, informal in terms of format as the majority of the prepared questions were discarded in favor of open ended conversations with the candidates, allowed the candidates to ask questions of the commissioners and clarify the role they would be expected to fill.
All of the candidates came forth, tossing their names into the hat, when it became apparent that there was not an overwhelming interest within the community.
Harding explained that he was stepping forward because, “If you're going to live somewhere, and something is needed, you ought to step up to the plate.” Speaking to his experience, Harding stated that he had previously been a CPA, and had some experience dealing with the pressures of needing to cut budgets. Willing to think outside the box, he emphasized that to make a budget cut effective, one had to look at where the majority of the money was being spent, as opposed to small line item expenditures.
Bockness explained her interest in filling the role by describing what it was she thought a commissioner ought to be for their constituents. She stated that the commissioners of the county need to, “help provide benefits to everybody in the county, be good stewards to make sure everyone is taken care of.” Voicing her vision for the county she said, “We need economic development to keep our kids and grandkids here.” She additionally emphasized that people live here for a reason, and we need to be wary of too much change.
Koppenhaver emphasized a need to give back to the community. “I think this is a great little county,” she explained. Discussing the possibility of running for election when the vacated term is up in 2010 she said “We can try, I would like to do something for the county.”
Dolatta said of his decision to put his name in, “I know I'm new to it, just go ahead and put my name on the list.” He added that he was spurred to action largely by the inaction of others.
“My largest gripe is that people don't want to step in and do something,” Dolatta said.
In a discussion of his experience with budgeting as a supply sergeant in the army he explained, “You watched what you spent all year long.” He stated that he had been responsible for millions of dollars in budgets, and would bring that experience to the table as a commissioner.
The Commissioners have until the end of the month to make a decision, however a decision is expected to be made at the next meeting, June 15.
Published June 3, 2009