Voters will decide Nov. 6 who will be the next District 2 Jackson County commissioner. Candidates are incumbent Democrat John Schafstall and Republican Thomas Joray. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 6 p.m.
Education: Cortland High School graduate
Occupation: Employed with Seymour Community Schools
Education: Seymour High School graduate
What makes you the best candidate?
Schafstall: I’ve been a commissioner for two terms. I’m a Vietnam veteran, and I’ve been in business for myself and worked as a district sales manager for a couple of companies. I was born and raised on a farm and ran a farm.
Joray: My 35 years in the building industry gives me a unique experience deciding on capital spending projects. I was bridge superintendent for Jackson County from 1999 to 2007 and built 35 to 40 bridges. I have paved many miles of road. I am a fiscal conservative that believes in small but effective government.
What are the top-three issues commissioners will need to address in the coming years?
Schafstall: I think the need for additional space for county offices, especially the courts, is important. We need to look at consolidating services. We also will need to look at our bridges, especially the river bridges at Rockford and the Cavanaugh Bridge. I would like to see us finish those up. They would be the last river bridges to be renovated. We also need to see what the covered bridge at Shieldstown needs.
Joray: I think the county needs to hire an engineer, because we are spending too much money on outside engineering; and we need to update zoning laws which have not been addressed for a long time. We also need to make sure the sheriff’s department has the resources to fight the increasing drug problem in Jackson County.
What is your understanding of the Open Door and Public Access laws?
Schafstall: We’re not allowed to conduct or do any business behind closed doors. It’s hard for just three of us to do anything without a couple of us talking about it as long as we don’t make any decisions. We need to be open about it. I try to be open about everything. If anybody wants to know something, they just have to ask me. I believe I work for everybody in the county.
Joray: Personally I really don’t think anything should happen behind closed doors. People should have access to all issues. Frankly it’s their checkbook we’re taking money from. I just don’t believe in keeping secrets from the taxpayers.
What can commissioners do to try to optimize county spending to help deal with restraints on funding?
Schafstall: A lot of things we do have an effect on the county’s money. Commissioners started a courthouse study three years ago so we could try to put a plan in place to buy some property and maybe put a campus together here. We can repair roads the correct way instead of patching, and we don’t have to spend everything we get. I don’t always like federal grants, and I don’t like hearing someone say, “If we don’t take it someone else will.” It’s still taxpayer money.
Joray: I think if we have shortfalls we need to address them. As an example, if we had a 2 percent shortfall, I would cut each department by 2 percent and let department heads figure out where they would cut.
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