CLAY COUNTY — Voters who cast their ballot in the Tuesday, Nov. 3 general election will choose from a slew of candidates running for the nation’s, state’s and county’s top elected offices. Voters will also decide the fate of Amendments 1 and 3, whether Clay County should have a different form of government and if Smithville Area Fire Protection District should get a tax increase.
The following is a rundown of those running in local state and county contested races as well as details on ballot questions being put voters. For a complete copy of the ballot, see the digital version of this story online at mycouriertribune.com/news/election_news or in the Courier-Tribune NOW app.
Current Clay County Collector and Republican Lydia McEvoy faces term-limited State Rep. Jon Carpenter, a Democrat, for a four-year term as western Clay County commissioner.
Voters will choose between candidate Dustin Bell, a political newcomer, and Megan Thompson, current county clerk, for election to a four-year term as eastern county commissioner.
Republican Tracy Baldwin, who currently works as deputy assessor, faces Democrat and newcomer Bruce Cantwell for the county assessor seat. The term is also for four years.
In the race for sheriff, Clay County voters will choose between current deputy and county Emergency Management Director Will Akin, a Republican, and multidecade law enforcement veteran Wick Pickard, who also has experience working in the sheriff’s office. The elected office term is also four years.
In the county’s public administrator race, incumbent and Republican Sarah Mills Rottgers faces opposition from challenger and Democrat Jeremy Eden. Voters will decide who gets to serve the next four years in the office, which is charged with managing the affairs of an individual who may need guardianship, conservatorship or personal representative services due to being disabled or incapacitated.
Questions on ballot
Voters across Clay County will also decide the fate of the latest attempt to change the structure of county government by either approving or voting down the proposed constitution on the county ballot. The question reads, “Shall Clay County adopt the proposed county constitution?”
If passed, changes would include expanding the three-person commission to seven, term limits for and an opportunity to recall commissioners, limitations on debt and requiring public meetings to be livestreamed. Approval would also mean the end of elected offices of clerk, collector, public administrator, treasurer and recorder of deeds, with a hired county administrator in charge of appointing directors to most of these departments. Offices of assessor, auditor, sheriff and prosecuting attorney would remain elected.
Voters in Smithville Area Fire Protection District boundaries will decide if taxpayers will pay additional taxes as the district seeks a 35-cent tax levy increase to fully staff the currently unmanned station No. 3 in Paradise. If passed, the amount would more than double the tax levy rate to $.6321 per every $100 of assessed valuation. The current operating levy has not been increased since the creation of the fire district in 1989 and currently sits at about 28 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
Voters across Missouri will also decide the fate of Constitutional Amendment Nos. 1 and 3.
Amendment 1 deals with term limits for the state’s top elected offices. The question reads, “Do you want to amend the Missouri Constitution to extend the two term restriction that currently applies to the Governor and Treasurer to the Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor and the Attorney General?”
If passed, Amendment 1 would limit the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor and attorney general to two terms of office in a lifetime. As of 2019, the state constitution limited the governor and state treasurer to two terms of office in a lifetime, but not the other executive offices.
A “no” vote opposes this constitutional amendment, thereby keeping the two-term limit on the governor and state treasurer, but not other state executive offices.
Amendment 3 is the Redistricting Process and Criteria, Lobbying and Campaign Finance Amendment. The ballot question reads, “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
• ban gifts from paid lobbyists to legislators and their employees;
• reduce legislative campaign contribution limits; and
• change the redistricting process voters approved in 2018 by: (i) transferring responsibility for drawing state legislative districts from the Nonpartisan State Demographer to Governor-appointed bipartisan commissions; (ii) modifying and reordering the redistricting criteria.”
A "yes" vote supports amending the Missouri Constitution to enact the following changes:
• eliminate the nonpartisan state demographer and use a bipartisan commission appointed by the governor again for legislative redistricting,
• alter the criteria used to draw district maps,
• change the threshold of lobbyists' gifts from $5 to $0 and
• lower the campaign contribution limit for state Senate campaigns from $2,500 to $2,400.
A "no" vote opposes amending the Missouri Constitution, thereby maintaining:
• the state's use of a nonpartisan state demographer for legislative redistricting,
• the existing criteria used to draw legislative districts and
• the existing campaign finance and lobbying limits.
Missouri House races
In Missouri House District 12, which includes Smithville, voters will choose between Republican Josh Hulbert and Democrat and current Smithville school board member Wade Kiefer for election. All House seats have a two-year term.
The general election race for Missouri House District 14 is between two challengers as current Rep. Matt Sain did not seek reelection. The district covers a portion of western Clay County and a significant portion of eastern Platte County. Those on the ballot are Democrat Ashley Aune and Republican Eric Holmes.
Republican Steve West and Democrat Maggie Nurrenbern vie for the Missouri House District 15 seat, which includes Gladstone.
Covering parts of Kansas City North outside of Liberty with district lines up to Interstate 435 and past U.S. Highway 169, Missouri House District 16 is a large district in the Northland. As Rep. Noel Shull is being term limited out of office, the representative seat is open to two challengers, Republican Chris Brown and Democrat James Schackleford.
Current Missouri House member Mark Ellebracht, Democrat, is seeking his third term as the District 17 representative, which includes parts of Liberty, Pleasant Valley, Kansas City and Claycomo. He is facing Republican challenger Brandt Vircks on the Nov. 3 ballot.
Senate District 17
State Sen. Lauren Arthur, a Democrat, seeks to retain her Missouri Senate seat and faces opposition from businessman Mickey Younghanz, a Republican. District 17 covers Liberty, North Kansas City, Gladstone and parts of Kansas City North. The winner will serve a four-year term.