Three candidates are competing for the District 1 seat on the Platte County Board of Supervisors in the Nov. 6 general election.
Incumbent Tom Martens, a Republican, registered to run prior to the primary election but dropped out in late February. The three current candidates are Republican Fred Liss, Libertarian John Harms and Democrat Barb Siedlik.
Fred Liss, 64, was born and raised in Platte County and worked for 31 years in the county Highway Department. In 2009, the former Platte County Highway superintendent retired.
Liss considers the county’s bridge replacement program and the recovery efforts from flooding in the early 1990s and 2008 to be two of the most significant projects of his career, he said in a Columbus Telegram article from 2008.
“I probably have more experience than any of my opponents,” Liss told The Telegram this week. “If I got on the county board, I’ll be hitting the ground running. There won't be much of a learning curve for me.”
He said he decided to run after many people encouraged him to throw his hat in the race after Martens dropped out. In the primary race, he beat out Todd Stuthman receiving 56 percent of the vote. He said his main concerns are high property taxes and road conditions.
“I just want to make sure that I can contribute to the county board and that we budget wisely, he said. ”(I'd) like to continue the process of improving our roads the best we can.”
John Harms, 31, is a farmer who has lived his entire life in Platte County. He graduated from Lakeview High School and earned a bachelor's degree in business administration with concentrations in marketing and management from Wayne State College.
In 2014, Harms ran for the District 1 seat but was beat out by Martens in the primary election. At the time, he was a registered Republican and served for four years as the chairman for the Platte County Republican Party. Last year, he registered as a Libertarian.
“There are a lot of people who aren't happy with either party,” Harms said. “And I think the Libertarian Party will give those people a voice."
He said that his main concerns are with county roads and spending. He advocates for small government and maintaining government roads, which he said have been declining from constant use of larger trucks and farm machinery.
“The county can’t quite tackle all the tax issues,” Harms said. “But I believe in fiscal responsibility and the county spending money wisely and more conservatively.”
Barb Siedlik, 65, has been a county resident for the past 50 years. She has worked as an insurance agent for 28 years and has served as coordinator for the Columbus Downtown Business Association since 2010.
She and her husband, Mike Siedlik, are owners of Siedlik Signs in Columbus. Siedlik said she has attended many board meetings in the past as an observer and now wants to have a voice in the board's decision-making process. She said she will listen to county residents and give them a voice.
“I guess since the '80s, it’s been on my bucket list,” she said about being on the board. “I (will) listen to people and try to implement what they want done.”
Siedlik said it’s easy for people on the board to look at issues with tunnel vision, and that she will approach the job with an open mind. Her intentions are to focus on long-term planning that will benefit future generations, she said.
“I would like to share a lot of the community's thoughts with the board and see what we can get going,” Siedlik said.
Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.