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Candidates Answer Questions

On July 25th, eleven candidates attended a candidate forum sponsored by our Republican committee. We asked the candidates to submit written answers to the questions we asked, and we also asked additional questions that would not fit within the time frame of the forum. The answers to those questions appear below. We are making these answers available to voters to enable you to learn more about our candidates. These people are hoping to earn your vote on August 4th. 

You can jump directly to a candidate by clicking the candidate name from the list below. 

Mo Senate
Rick Brattin
Mo House
Patricia Pike
Northern Commissioner
Cindy Thompson
Public Administrator
Kelsey Westerhold
Jason Mosher
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Rick Brattin Forum
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Mo Senate
Rick Brattin

Rick did not submit written answers. 

You can also find more information about him at his website.

Patricia Pike Forum
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Mo House
Patricia Pike

You can also find more information about Patricia at her website.

1. Where do you stand on parents’ freedom to accept or reject any or all childhood vaccines for their children, including any potential vaccine for Covid-19? Support your position with “why” you take the stance you do. 

I support the right of a parent to make vaccination decisions based on consultation with their health professionals. From the prospective of this being both a freedom and a health issue, I believe parents need to seek information from credible health sources and weigh the consequences regarding choosing or rejecting childhood vaccines for their children. 

“Why”: Personal experience and health data. My mother almost died in childhood from diphtheria and dealt with side effects of the disease all her life. When I started school, many of the vaccines we have today were still not available. I missed many days of school recovering from measles, mumps, chicken pox, etc. 

Vaccines were available by the time my children were born. After consulting with our doctor, our family chose to vaccinate. My children did not have any of the childhood diseases generations before had to endure. From the eradication of polio and many other serious diseases to the resurgence of diseases in populations not vaccinating, statistics show millions of children’s lives have been saved though vaccination. 

2. Do you support school choice? Why or why not, If you do, what alternatives do you think should 

be included? How would you handle funding? If you don’t, what needs to be done to improve our education outcomes? 

Currently in our 126th District there are many opportunities for school choice: public schools, private schools, faith-based schools, home schooling, online schooling, etc. I respect all of these choices and expect accountability from each one. 

I believe the experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic will expand the possibilities of how schooling will look in the 2020-21 school year and beyond. I anticipate we will see new perspectives introduced in education legislation next session and students will continue to see technology improved, curriculum updated and support services expanded. 

3. What are your concerns and what potential issues do you see with the recent expansion in 

Missouri in mail in voting, and what safeguards are there to prevent voter fraud? Does the law allow for a liberal county like St. Louis to administer the law differently from a more conservative one like Vernon County? Is there anything additional you would have added? 

COVID-19 is projected to present health challenges for both the poll workers and the voters in 2020 elections. The Legislature enacted legislation in May anticipating August and November issues that the current absentee ballot guidelines could not address. Mail in ballot language for Missouri is very narrow, uniform across all counties and addresses safeguards for fraud. The legislation is only for the August and November 2020 elections, ballots must be notarized, and only one ballot per envelope. 

Thank you for the opportunity to answer these questions. I look forward to continuing in service in the MO House of Representatives next session. 

No Commissioner Forum
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Northern Commissioner
Cindy Thompson

1. Why are we still paying a tax on the jail debt given the amount of money
coming in from the VCSO? What becomes of that tax money? How is it figured into
the overall budget?

The citizens of Vernon County voted a ½ cent sales tax into effect in 2006 to cover the
expense of the new jail. This tax remains in effect until 2027. The amount of the original
bond was $10M. The current balance is approximately $4.3 M.

The tax brings in approximately $1,000,000 per year. Out of that $1M, our bond payment,
this year will be approximately $625,000, which leaves $375,000 for jail expenses. When
you think about utilities, insurance, prisoner meals, prisoner medical, salaries, maintenance
and repairs, and the 24/7 911 dispatch operations, we are now in the hole.

Housing prisoners from other counties has provided Sheriff Mosher the flexibility to cover
not only these additional expenses, but to offer better officer training, safer vehicles,
courthouse security, and a decent wage for deputies, which has reduced turnover. It also
allows the County Commission to be able to have monies available for other budget items.
I hope this gives some clarity to the question. We would welcome you to come visit the
Commission if you have further questions or concerns.

2. Would you support executive orders requiring masks and another shut down if so

Situations in rural areas are usually different than those in bigger cities. If the executive
order allows for local authorities to determine their own course of action, I would evaluate
yes or no based on the situation in Vernon County at that time. If the Governor and/or the
Missouri Division of Health determines it to be mandatory statewide, I will not vote to
disregard the law. I would not advocate that we arrest or fine people who don’t comply. I
would hope that we will use common sense and act responsibly.

3. Would you support eliminating the township form of government? Why or why

There are less than 20 counties in the State of Missouri that are still under the township
form of government. Townships can be eliminated in two ways. One, if our county
assessed value reaches the level of $600M, it automatically drops off (our value is currently
at $265M) or two, a citizen driven petition can be initiated in order to have the question
placed on the ballot for a vote. As long as we have townships, I will continue to work with
them. Over the past four years, we have assisted townships by providing additional CART
(County Aid Road Trust) money each year, brush cutting and mowing services, and offer
grant programs so they can apply for additional funds for special projects. Whatever form of
government we have, I do believe that we should strive for better efficiency.

Public Admin Forum
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Public Administrator
Kelsey Westerhold

Kelsey did not submit written answers. You can find out more about her by clicking HERE, and then clicking "Vernon County" at the top of the page.

jason mosher forum
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Jason Mosher

You can also find more information about Jason by clicking HERE, and clicking "Vernon County" at the top of the page. 

Question 1: 

Why do we have out of county inmates and no room for locals? Are there any safeguards in place to protect VC citizens from those inmates?

Actually, the VC jail is not full and VC inmates have never been turned away because of space issues. By law, if a judge issues a warrant or an inmate is arrested in VC, that inmate must be held by the VC Sheriff. If the jail were to be full, we would simply send the out of county inmates back to where they came from to make room for our own inmates. 

The current contract we have with KC is the safest and most profitable contract for our community that we have ever had. Through our negotiations, we were able to get KC to add the language “no inmates shall be released in VC and must be transported back to KC for release.” This guarantees that no inmate will be released in our community. We were also able to get KC to pay VC an additional $24,000 per month as a flat fee to transport those inmates back to KC. This is on top of the nearly $50 per day per inmate that KC pays us just to hold them in our jail, and all inmates are charged with misdemeanor charges (no felony charges). 


Question 2:

What are some ways VCSO can be more involved in rural communities? What can be done to expand patrol coverage throughout the county?

We will continue to promote the programs we have been participating in such as the county youth fair dinner, our Halloween safety drive in the schools, the Christmas food drive for children, county business checks, and by assigning staff from various departments to attend meetings with other county organizations. 

We have gradually expanded patrol coverage throughout the county by adding 24/7 patrol staff, and by increasing the number of deputies we have on patrol. Our deputies are logging more miles on patrol cars than ever before because of their constant patrolling in out county.  I have also added GPS trackers to all patrol vehicles so that we can see where vehicles are and where they have been to ensure county-wide patrolling is being accomplished. My goal is to eventually add more deputies to increase coverage even more. 

Question 3:

What would our plan of action be if civil unrest occurred in VC?

We created a plan of action for our county back when civil unrest took place during the Ferguson riots. While I can’t share every detail of that plan, it does include placing all deputies on stand by for response, equipping them with the gear and tools they would need, and having command staff in positions to make sure the overall situation is being monitored so decisions can be made without delay. 

There is a big difference between protesting and rioting. Lawful protests are protected by the Constitution, but once the line is crossed into rioting, it should be dealt with quickly and effectively to ensure that our community’s citizens and property are protected. 


Question 4:

Would you support executive orders requiring masks and another shut down if so ordered? 

No. While I think people should listen to the advice of the medical community and follow such advice to their ability, these orders are civil orders and not criminal; the Sheriff’s Office enforces criminal law. Regulating where people can go and what they must wear is a dangerous road. And once we go down this path, where would it end? Would stay at home orders with lists of places you are allowed to travel become a regular part of flu seasons? Our country was founded by people fleeing from over-reaching and over-controlling governments. The position of Sheriff is to uphold the law and enforce lawful orders, but above all else the county Sheriff is to uphold and support the constitution that grants us our freedoms.  


Question 5:

What is the number one issue impacting Vernon County and how do you plan on dealing with it?

The number one issue we deal with in law enforcement is the catch and release system that our state and federal government has created. Members of law enforcement put a great deal of time and effort (at the tax payers expense) to catch those committing crimes, only to deal with them again a short time later. This issue needs to be discussed on all levels of our state and local communities so that awareness can be made. Regardless of the number of offenders being released back into the community, law enforcement must continue to pursue those who commit crimes against people and property.  


Question 6:

Since the state mandates training for deputies, how important is it to you that detention officers also receive training?

Training has always been one of the most important issues to me within law enforcement. The state has no mandatory training requirements for detention officers and because of this, they often receive no training at all apart from “learning as they go.” Because of this, I created the VCSO Jail Training Academy and hosted our first academy class in September of 2017. This academy includes certified instructors from the VCSO and other agencies in the area. The VCSO has also been involved in the Missouri Sheriff’s Association’s efforts to create a specialized CIT (Crises Intervention Training) just for jail staff. This class will be ready for use this fall and will become part of the required training for jail staff along with other training classes.  


Question 7: 

What is the importance of deputy training and education and how, in your opinion, should it be addressed?

I have always said the quality of training directly affects the quality of an officer. Deputies should receive not just the training required by the state, but training that will directly affect their ability to perform the task given to them. Since taking office, I have sent all supervisory staff to supervisory and leadership schools. We have more certified instructors than ever before, including the areas of firearms, less lethal, pursuit driving, racial profiling, use of force, live scan operations, and more. All our patrol staff are CIT certified and nearly all have graduated from the Joplin Police Department SWAT School. You must always hope for the best as you prepare for the worst and training is how you prepare. 

Question 8:

How has your training, education, and experience prepared you for this position?

While some may attempt to rely on their training and experience alone, what helps me perform this job is the knowledge, experience and advice of those I surround myself with. A leader is only as effective as those in which they lead. I pursue knowledge and training on a constant basis, but this is only a supplement to having staff that can perform the tasks set before them. 

My current training and education include: Associates degree in law enforcement, bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration, business management degree (will receive this fall), and schools such as the FBI-LLEDA Executive Leadership school that I was fortunate enough to attend. I am also a certified instructor in multiple areas including a POST Generalist instructor and am certified in Crime Scene Investigation levels 1-4. I am CIT certified and have received interview and interrogation training as well as FBI Advanced Interview and Interrogation training. 

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