Candidates for two open county commissioner seats and two judicial seats made their pitches Thursday to members of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce.
The seven candidates were among 17 who appeared during a Chamber-sponsored forum. The other candidates represented campaigns for House Districts 41 and 43, State Senate Seat 22, the lieutenant governor’s office and the governor’s office.
Candidates for the commissioner races focused their comments on how to improve the county.
Pugh, who is a retired business owner, said he sees himself as a problem-solver.
He said it is imperative that the county’s roads be top notch. Pugh said they are not.
“To ensure public safety, the sheriff should have a safe sufficient jail. Not so much. Schools request assistance for needed programs and improvements. We drag our feet. Securing future water resources – stalled.
“Finally, you don’t hoist a $47 million field of dreams fairground fantasy on county citizens that will never pay its own way and will not have a nifty Hollywood ending. Use tax revenue should first go to roads, jails, schools and water. Restoring these common-sense principles will attract corporations and businesses looking for a responsibly managed community,” Pugh said.
His opponent, Stewart, said his eight years of experience in office, along with his background as an engineer benefits the county.
Government needs to focus on the core issues including roads, water and the county jail.
“We need to let businesses have the opportunity to grow and compete on the private side. I believe if that happens, everything will take care of itself. … People are moving to Canadian County, the fastest growing county in the state. Everybody wins whenever we are a place where people want to come. It is environment that we want to be,” he said.
District 1 Commissioner Marc Hader said government should be small and close to the people.
“Government should do a handful of things it is supposed to do and get out of the way and let you achieve or fail in pursing the American dream. … The things the government can do best to grow the economy is build a quality infrastructure that serves all of us so that we can get to school, work and play safely then back home. The type of infrastructure that businesses will want to locate by,” Hader said.
He also pointed out that the current board of commissioners has worked hard to remain transparent, including seeking a performance audit by the state.
Hall said he believes in a limited government, focusing on the core areas. He also supports allowing small businesses operate without significant limitation.
He owns a business and ran a family business for seven years. Hall said he knows the struggles that small businesses face.
“I was the one who dealt with all the government agencies that we have to deal with. It was never ending. It was the majority of what I did,” he said. “Government is the biggest hindrance to small business. They stand in the way.”
Each of the three judicial candidates discussed why they were the right choice for the bench.
There are two open seats — associate judge and a newly created district judge’s seat.
Running for associate judge are Bob Hughey, who is the incumbent, and Rachel Bussett, a Piedmont attorney.
Seeking the district judge’s seat is current Special Judge Jack McCurdy. He had faced an opponent in Rep. John Paul Jordan. However, Jordan announced last week that he was withdrawing from the race after determining that he was not eligible.
Hughey said he has served in the juvenile justice system for more than 22 years and has worked more than 6,000 cases.
“That’s important,” said Hughey, who oversees all of the county’s juvenile cases.
He said over his career, he has seen all sides of cases and that puts him in the best position to continue serving as the associate district judge.
Hughey said that he has reduced the number of cases by initiating things like a school attendance problem and a mock trial program that gives students an inside look at how the system works.
Bussett said she also has worked extensively in the juvenile justice system, but also has personal experience, having been the victim of abuse.
“I have 20 years of working in the legal community, being a passionate advocate for these parents, for these children and for our system. I’ve not been afraid to take on DHS when DHS isn’t doing the right thing. I’ve not been afraid to take on the state … and I’ve not been afraid to tell a parent when the parent choose drugs and alcohol over their children, that they need to straighten up, too. I will do everything in my power as a judge,” she said.
Meanwhile, McCurdy is the lone remaining candidate for the newly created district judge, seat 2, position after Jordan suspended his campaign last week.
Despite Jordan’s decision, his name will remain on the ballot.
McCurdy was appointed in 2007 as a special judge, and now is the longest serving judge in Canadian County.
McCurdy said the position was created to help handle the increased caseload in what is the fastest growing county in the state.
“Growth is good for the county, but it also is good for crime and divorce,” he said, adding that the number of criminal and divorce cases has more than doubled in recent years.
“There are bad aspects of growth, as well,” he said.