Meet your Candidates

There are four Republican candidates for the position of Howell County’s Northern Commissioner, a position soon to be vacated by the retiring incumbent, Bill Lovelace. There are no candidates from any other political party, so the August 4 primary election will determine the winner who will run unopposed in the general election. Three candidates spoke to Howell County News in these final weeks before the election.

Kathleen Hensley 
Kathleen Hensley has lived in Missouri for thirty years. Originally from California, she said it seems like God plucked her out of California and put her in paradise. She worked as a social worker in Howell County working with families under stress. She and her husband now own and operate Ken’s Garage outside Mountain View. 
Hensley said she is running for office because she is passionate about government and its responsibility towards taxpayers. She says she is asked over and over why taxes are raised multiple times and yet the quality of the roads keeps getting poorer. 
“I don’t know the answer. That’s why I’m running,” she said. 
Hensley’s platform is characterized by her focus on roads, which she called a basic necessity. 
“I am not running for this position for any other reason than public service,” she offered. She says she is distinct from her opponents because she is the more well-rounded choice, highlighting her intention to write grants herself as well as her people skills and management skills. 
Hensley said she supervised and managed men for ten years as the first female sergeant in the security department at TRW in California before the company was purchased by Boeing. She anticipates no issues working with the hardworking men on the road crews.
She said it’s tempting to focus on roads as the commission's highest priority, but the emphasis on roads must dovetail with the county budget. Hensley says she does not believe in cosmetic fixes for Howell County’s roads, which she says need to be fixed from the foundation up. However, she says she remains focused on the realities of what the county can afford. 
“We have to keep an eye on fiscal responsibility,” Hensley said. 
Jake Clinton 
Jake Clinton has lived in Willow Springs for twenty-seven years since he and his wife, Jenni (Baker) Clinton, bought part of her family’s farm. The Clintons have raised two boys who attended Willow Springs public schools. They run beef cattle and raise draft horses. Clinton has worked for MODOT, Adams Construction, and operated a dairy farm for a while. 
“I’ve tried a little of everything,” he said. 
Clinton says he is running because he is the best man for the job. He currently works as the shed foreman for the north end of the county and has worked closely with sitting Commissioner Bill Lovelace on road projects. 
“I have been a graderman. I’m there with all the asphalt,” he said. He is relying on this hand-to-the-plough experience to make him a good commissioner if elected. 
Clinton says though he has a lot to learn, he can adapt to all the tasks the commission will undertake from decisions about funding the Sheriff’s office to fire departments and schools. 
He knows the Commissioners well. He has worked with both Southern District Commissioner Billy Sexton and with the Presiding Commissioner Mark Collins. 
In terms of big ideas, like how to distribute the CARES Act funding, Clinton would rather collaborate with the other Commissioners before suggesting a plan on his own. 
“You don’t know what all’s going on unless you’re in the know,” he suggested. 
“Roads are not everything, but they’re right up on the top of the list,” Clinton said, “You can take it to the bank that I’m gonna do the best I can do.”
For Clinton the most important thing a commissioner can do is spend his neighbor’s tax money wisely “the way it ought to be spent”, which is what he says he will do.  
Calvin Wood
Calvin Wood is a native of Howell County. His people have farmed in the Dry Creek area outside Pomona for five generations. His mother’s side of the family comes from the Indian Creek area. 
“We’re pretty hard working hillbilly people,” he quipped. 
Wood and his wife, Melissa, have four children who have graduated from Willow Springs High School. 
Wood said he is seeking this office because he has twenty years’ experience with the road and bridge department, having worked his way up from the lowest job, utility, into vehicle maintenance. For him, the commissioner’s seat is the next progressive step. He says he is a hands-on person, and that is the kind of commissioner he would be. 
Wood says the experience he brings to the table “is bought and paid for by taxpayers.”
With this experience, Woods feels prepared to take on the role of Commissioner, and says he has made an effort to make himself familiar with all the aspects of the job. 
Wood expects to fit in will with the sitting Commissioners, having an existing relationship with both men. 
“We’ve all come from the same kind of background,” he noted. 
As Commissioner, Wood says he has three top priorities: time management and project layout, addressing the longstanding drainage issues, and getting back into road building versus road grading only. He would also like to see the commission tackle some larger projects while the county has the sales tax money to do so. 
He wants to repair projects the first time, saying “It’s a waste of taxpayers money going back to the same projects.”
Editor’s note: Replies attributed to candidates have been edited for clarity, but not for content. The fourth candidate, Donald Brotherton, could not be reached for inclusion in this article.

Howell County News

110 W. Main St.,
Willow Springs, MO 65793

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