Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election Wrap Up

We didn't think we would become passionate about county elections that really won't affect us after we throw our graduation caps into the air in May.

We were wrong.

We thought we were dealt the last choice card when we were told to cover Adair County elections.

Once again, we were wrong.

Without intending to or even realizing it was happening, we became invested in these elections. We have met so many people throughout this process who were nice enough to sit down and answer questions from a couple of college kids. We have learned so much, and we hope some of this learning was passed to you.

The biggest thing we've taken away from this experience is this: You learn, you care. We learned. And now we care. We learned about a hopeful and goal-oriented commissioner candidate, passionate about his county and the people in it, passionate about his home. We learned about an ambitious and determined candidate for associate circuit judge, throwing himself headfirst into the campaign with the hope of bringing more respect to the courtroom. We learned about a talented and diligent judge, who will continue to serve Adair County into her 8th year and beyond. We've learned that the people of Kirksville are compassionate and motivated and have a great love and loyalty for Northeast Missouri.

Our goal in writing this blog was to encourage voters to make a decision based on more than blue or red. It was to vote for the person and not for the party because in a local election, the individual's work ethic and excitement about the job is far more important than the "D" or "R" attached to their name.

We hope that we did our job, but judging from the overall results in Adair County, not just commissioner and judge, but state senate and representative too, we are not sure we did. Adair County voted Republican with the exception of associate circuit judge. We hope these outcomes are an authentic result of researching the candidates and deciding who would serve the county best. We hope.

But our hopes differ from our suspicions and we suspect it is a direct response to the current political climate in which Democrats are, how should we put it, not exactly the favored party. Whatever the reason, we hope last night's winners work hard to represent Adair County and if they don't, we hope that voters will do their homework for the next election cycle.

We'd judge our first blogging experience as fairly successful. We hope we provided you with at least some information that you otherwise wouldn't have known. We hope we encouraged you to vote. Thank you so much to those who have read.

Politically yours,
Kelly and Tracy

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Results Are In!

Now that all precincts in Adair County have reported, we wanted to tell our viewers the results of the election today

For Presiding Commissioner
Pickens: 50% WINNER
Harrelson: 44%
Fountain: 5%

Associate Circuit Judge
Kristie Swaim 52% WINNER
Josh Meyer 48%

Proposition A PASSED
Yes 68%
No 32%

Proposition B PASSED
Yes 52%
No 48%

Amendment 1 PASSED
Yes 74%
No 26%

Amendment 2 PASSED
Yes 66%
No 34%

Amendment 3 PASSED
Yes 84%
No 16%

And for those who have been following the State House race between Rebecca McClanahan and Zachary Wyatt, Wyatt won with 60% of the vote. And Brian Munzlinger beat Wes Shoemyer in the State Senate race by a margin of 54-45.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A little more about Josh

We know its election day, but we really wanted to sneak in our thoughts on Josh as we did for Harrelson and Swaim. There’s still time to change who you plan to vote for!

Alright guys, here’s the deal. We were so, so, soooo impressed by Josh. We were even impressed by him at 10am on a Sunday morning after a night of college Halloween parties. That’s saying something.

We’re voting for Josh and so should you. Seriously.

Granted, we don’t know him well and we spent less than an hour with him. But you know how sometimes you just feel comfortable around someone for no reason? You trust their integrity and intelligence almost instantly? That happened. It sounds sappy and unrealistic, but that’s an accurate way to explain it.

It takes guts to run against someone who has been in office for eight years, but he’s doing it. He has young children who he’d probably like to spend more time with, he has a job, he’s involved in the community, but lately he’s spending nine hours a day knocking on doors and asking for votes. That’s dedication. Especially when some people say he has no chance of beating Swaim.

Josh was authentic. He didn’t hide anything from us or adopt a fake facade to talk to us. The interview was conversational and casual. He was honest with us about his feelings about Swaim, and we could tell how strongly he felt about the position. He does not regard her as a compassionate person, and although a judge cannot be overly caring, they must treat those in the courtroom with dignity and respect. Josh made it clear that Swaim simply does not do that. And what’s more, while explaining this to us, he did not insult her as a person. He simply stated his problems with her courtroom demeanor.

We feel that if Josh were elected, he would serve Adair County well and we’re so glad we got to sneak in a last minute interview with him.

On that note, we’re sorry we weren’t able to schedule an interview with Harrelson’s challenger for presiding commissioner, Stanely Pickens. We tried calling, but were never successful in setting up a time to talk.

Anyway, HAPPY ELECTION DAY! It’s like Christmas for us. Check back Wednesday for election results!

Polls open tomorrow! Which way will you vote?

In case you've been living in a cave for the last few months, here's a reminder that election day is TOMORROW, November 2nd. Whether you agree with the nature of politics right now or not, still be sure to get out and vote so that your voice can be heard.

Now, throughout our blogging adventure we have worked diligently to provide both sides of the facts and tell you exactly what you need to know for the election. After spending many hours deciphering all of the political jargon and listening and talking with supporters and opponents on both sides of the issues, we have decided to let our viewers know how we plan on voting tomorrow and why.

Amendment #1: Vote YES
If this amendment passes then assessors in charter counties (in other words, St. Louis County) will have to be elected into office rather than appointed. Why not make assessors be more accountable? If they are elected they will be. 

Amendment #2: Vote YES
This amendment calls for POWs to be exempted for property taxes. The number of those who qualify are small and the cost of it is "minimal" according to the official ballot. After the sacrifice that POWs made for our country, its the least we can do.

Amendment #3: Vote YES

If passed, taxes imposed during the sale or transfer of homes will be eliminated. We have seen nothing but support for the amendment and if double taxation can be prevented then let's do it.

And now come the most debated (and somewhat confusing) topics of the Missouri election....

Proposition A: Vote NO
We understand that having no say on an imposed tax can be difficult to stomach. Everyone who works or lives in Kansas City or St. Louis is affected by this e-tax. However, this tax is a vital component that keeps these cities clean, safe, and protected. Without this tax, many of the services that residents are used to having will be gone. Now, supporters of Prop A argue that they don't advocate the e-tax to go away. They just want voters to have the ability to choose. We agree. BUT if Prop A passes, no other cities in the state will have the option to implement the tax and that is too binding to our liking. If other cities need the tax to fund the necessary services then they should have that option.

Proposition B: Vote NO
This a very tough call. As you can tell by our post from the discussion panel, there are very strong opinions about this proposition. At first we were in favor of the proposition because it appeared to finally do something about puppy mills in Missouri. However, after further look into the literature, it appears that the main problem (the puppy mills) will not be solved through this proposition. In fact, because the new standards that would be set in place would be so strict, legal dog breeding facilities would have to shut down and illegal puppy mills would continue to rise. And let's not forget how many jobs would be lost for both breeders and veterinarians. We feel that the current regulations set in place such as Operation Bark Alert and the Animal Care Facilities Act of 1992 already cover most of what the proposition is set out to do. Obviously puppy mills are a terrible practice and we agree with supporters of Prop B that something needs to take place to shut them down. But this doesn't do it. 

A Last Minute Chat with Josh Meyer

Just 72 hours before the polls opened, Josh Meyer, Independent Candidate for Associate Circuit Judge was nice enough to take time out of his hectic election-day-is-almost-here schedule to meet with us. We sat in his living room and chatted about the campaign—specifically, why he’s running for associate circuit judge against an incumbent that has been in office for 8 years. Here’s what we found out.
Josh in a Nutshell
  • Moved to Kirksville at age 2. His Dad was the football coach at Kirksville High School.
  • He graduated from Kirksville High School and Truman State University with a biology degree
  • Taught special education at Kirksville high school for two years. He also coached football and basketball.
  • Graduated from UMKC’s law school
  • Now works at Preferred Family Healthcare doing corporate law
Why Josh is Running
“It’s no secret, I’m not real happy with the job [Kristie Swaim] is doing,” said Meyer.  He said he is running because he thinks he can do the job better while treating people with more respect. He doesn’t like the way Swaim treats him, other attorneys and his clients. He said that he has to prep his clients about how they will be treated in the courtroom, and he shouldn’t have to do that. He argued that defendants already know they're in trouble, or they're going through a hard time. Its not the place of the judge to make them feel worse.
Josh also pointed out that much of Swaim's job includes ruling on custody and divorce cases, yet she is not married and does not have children. Josh said Swaim lacks the personal experience that is necessary to make a sensitive and appropriate ruling in these types of cases. Josh, on the other hand, is married with children and has had different jobs and different life experiences and he said he will be able to bring a greater and more understanding perspective to the bench.
Top 3 Things He wants to do for Adair County
  • Make defendants more accountable. This will include incorporating private probation, which will occur at no cost to anyone except the defendants.
  • Make sure cases that are heard by the Adair County Circuit Judge are brought back and heard in Adair County again.
  • Treat everyone with respect, a part of the job he believes Swaim is seriously lacking.
We're sorry this post is so late, but hopefully you can read it before heading to the polls tomorrow. Please, please, please don't forget to vote! Your vote does count, especially in local elections. So, what are you waiting for? Go vote!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wrap Up on Prop B Discussion Panel

As shown from our live twitter feed, Monday night's discussion panel on Proposition B was filled with emotion and heated debate. We took many notes during the discussion panel and we want our readers to know what we found. 

We would first like to comment on the format of the panel.  There were four representatives for each side of the argument-four who want Prop B to pass and four who want current legislation to stay as it is. Each panelist had up to 7 minutes to speak and since the event got a late start, there was less than an hour left for audience questions to be answered. While the opening statements helped the audience more fully understand each panelist's view on the controversial topic, everyone (including us) began to feel restless when an hour went by without any questions being asked.

We are not going to go through every question and answer that was discussed in the panel because it is all covered on our twitter page @adairalerts. Instead, we want to focus on the overall theme that was presented throughout the two hour discussion.

Main views from the opposition:
  • Legislation is already put in place to regulate dog breeding operations in the form of the Animal Care Facilities Act of 1992. Opponents argue that it is actually more thorough than the proposed proposition
  • Another way breeders are already held accountable is the through Operation Bark Alert, a toll-free hotline that residents can call with complaints or concerns relating to breeding facilities. 
  • Breeders already ready thousands of money on their facilities in order to keep up with current regulations. If the proposition passes, many breeders (and veterinarians) will be out of business. 
  • Not one breeding facility, including those in good standing, would be able to comply with all of the regulations set by the proposition
  • Proposition B WILL NOT stop unlicensed breeders from continuing their illegal practices
Main views of the supporters
  • While the Animal Care Facilities Act helps regulate breeding facilities, it is not enough. Proposition B does not get rid of existing legislation but rather builds on to it. 
  • Operation Bark Alert is working. However, it only targets unlicensed breeding facilities. 
  • Regulations very similar to those that are in Proposition B have been enacted in other states and have proven to be successful.
  • Proposition B was not driven by outside forces like many think. It was put together by a coalition that live and work in Missouri.
The issue of bringing emotion into the discussion was brought up often. Dr Foster, a practicing veterinarian, argued that it is impossible to keep emotion out of it when thousands of peoples' jobs are at stake. Along with this, name calling occurred throughout the debate, even after the moderator asked the panelists to stick to the facts of the proposition. Calling supporters "eco-terrorists" and opponents "supporters of puppy mills" is immature and it does nothing to educate voters about the proposition. 

Another common theme that continued to be brought up was the relationship between the Humane Society and the proposition. Those who opposed the proposition argued that the Humane Society were the main contributors to the proposition. The supporters, however, said that while the Humane Society has been major supporters of Prop B, they were not the main contributors.

So who won the debate? Well, the four panelists who oppose the proposition all had credible backgrounds and first-hand experience with the issue. As a result, they had many stories to back up why they oppose the proposition. The supporting panelists, however, did not have the same credible backgrounds. For example, two out of the four were professors from Truman State University who support the proposition but have no connection to breeding facilities.Therefore, we think that those who oppose the proposition won the debate. They had solid evidence to back up their statements and they made the best case for themselves.

What do you think? Do you support Prop B?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Our thoughts about the interview with Judge Swaim

We realized that after the interview with Harrelson we posted our thoughts about how the interview went. Well then, it’s only fair to do the same for Kristie Swaim.

Kristie has been the associate circuit judge in Adair County for eight years, so she has to be doing something right, right? From our interview, it seems that she is. Kristie was very articulate and had very well thought out responses to the questions we threw her way. The interview was much more formal than our interview with Harrelson. That is, Kristie kept her comments only to those relevant to the interview. We’ve been told in our communication classes that some people are media savvy and some are media virgins. In other words, some people know how to talk to the media; to answer their questions without really answering their questions. Others, however, do not have this expertise. They are new to the media and eager to give any response that comes to mind. Well, Kristie was definitely media savvy.

Kristie was very careful about what she said and her responses sometimes seemed rehearsed. Now, don’t get us wrong… this is not a bad thing. Kristie has been through the campaign process many times and she knows what is appropriate for a judge to say and what is not. Being that blogging is a different form of media (more casual and conversational), and since we are university students, we had hoped she might reveal slightly more. But this simply did not happen. For example, we asked her what she thought about her opponent, Josh Meyer. Her response was that she didn’t have any thoughts about any of her opponents. Well, come on now. We know this isn’t true. There’s not one thought you have of him? We understand why Kristie wouldn’t share, we only wish she had said something along the lines of “I’d prefer not to discuss my opponents.” Her claim that she had “no thoughts” about them sounds rehearsed and artificial. And is probably false.

Judge Swaim is a very nice, respectable woman and she definitely has an objective view in the way that she handles herself (which is great for being a judge). We just would have liked for her to be a bit more candid.  

Come back on Thursday to hear our thoughts on the heated discussion panel that happened last night.