The four candidates for the two Jackson County commissioners seats up for election Nov. 8 may bring a wide diversity of life experiences to the table.
But they also have something in common — little to no political experience.
The newcomers in the District 1 race are Republican Drew Markel of Tampico and Democrat Kurt Fenneberg of Seymour, while the candidates in the District 2 race are Republican Bob Gillaspy of Seymour and Democrat Brad Smith of Seymour. The District 3 seat, held by Republican Matt Reedy of Freetown, is not up for election until 2018.
District 1 includes Brownstown, Driftwood, Grassy Fork and Washington townships; District 2 spans Hamilton, Jackson, Redding and Vernon townships; and District 3 is Carr, Owen, Pershing and Salt Creek townships.
Republican Jerry Hounshel of Vallonia presently represents District 1 but decided not to seek re-election, while Republican Tom Joray of Seymour, the present District 2 commissioner, lost to Gillaspy in the primary.
Commissioners are responsible for maintaining and supervising county-owned property, including courthouses, the jail and other offices, supervising the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges and providing traffic control. In 2015, the county’s three commissioners each made $20,993.18.
Each of the candidates have different ideas about why they would be a good commissioner.
Smith said he believes his most positive asset is his business acumen, which speaks for itself.
“I have been running multiple successful small businesses in Jackson County for many years, and I have been making executive decisions since I was 18 years old,” he said.
Gillaspy points to his 40 years of experience building homes and developing subdivisions in the county as a plus.
“My business experience had taught me how to work with people and listen to their needs,” he said. “I have an understanding of budgets and have a conservative attitude when it comes to getting the most benefit for the taxpayers’ dollars.”
Markel, a school administrator, said people often run for office because of a personal gripe that they want to do something about, but he is running for one simple reason.
“I want to ensure county residents have a commissioner that is looking out for the public good,” he said.
Fenneberg, who has worked at Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals for 33 years and also farms, said service to others is an important facet in his life.
“I have served on the Jackson-Washington Volunteer Fire Department for 32 years, and I have been the fire chief for more than 14 years,” he said. “In this position, I have had a lead role in managing funds, purchasing equipment and securing education for the firefighters.”