While the Morgan County Republican Party cannot endorse candidates in nonpartisan county races, it did not stop them from inviting all local candidates to address party delegates.
Incumbent Stacy Netz Lafitte and Morgan County Clerk candidate Janet Thornton attended the Morgan County Republican Party Convention, addressing county delegates. Thornton claimed 60.78 percent of county delegates votes in a straw poll, while Lafitte claimed 41.18 percent.
Thornton and her husband Doug moved to the county four years ago. She has 20 years of auditing experience, a degree in accounting, and thinks every county department needs updating.
Lafitte, who has served as county clerk for 16 years, said her life changed “dramatically and publicly” when her husband passed away. In her hour of need, the community, high school students, and courthouse employees rallied around her, she said.
“My physical, food, and emotional needs were all taken care of. The citizens here are amazing and my coworkers are my family,” Lafitte said. “Elect someone who loves the community as much as I do.”
Morgan County Assessor candidate Candice Caldwell and incumbent Gwen D. Rich spoke about digitizing county records. Straw polls of county delegates show the race is a close one, with Rich garnering 50.98 percent of the vote and Caldwell claiming 49.02 percent.
Caldwell and her husband Mark moved to Mountain Green seven years ago. She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations, and is a “believer in term limits.”
“We need to ante up the customer service in the county,” said Caldwell, who works in the financial industry and often finds it necessary to pull home assessments. She noted in Morgan, those assessments are not online. “It is important to make it easier to do business in Morgan.”
Rich has served as the county assessor for the past 28 years and is a certified appraiser with the state.
Rich would also like assessments online, but noted that budgetary constraints, as well as computer and security issues, have prevented it.
“The legislative body has control over that,” Rich said. “One person can’t come in and fix it.”
Current County Recorder Brenda D. Nelson joined candidate Tina M. Heath in addressing Morgan Republican delegates. Heath came out on top of the straw poll with 60.78 percent to Nelson’s 39.22 percent.
Nelson has been employed with the county for 21 years, 16 of them as county recorder.
“I am a full functioning recorder who brought technology to make research easier and more efficient,” Nelson said. A 2006 recording software program update in Morgan County was one of the first in the state, she said. “It has made our life so much easier to have electronic records.”
Heath moved to the county in 1985 and has a college degree in finance. She worked for Thiokol for years, as well as ran two of her own businesses.
“The county needs fresh eyes,” Heath said. “I know how to manage time and people.”
County Council District 1
David V. Sawyer and Tina Cannon addressed the crowd as candidates for Morgan County Council District 1. Sawyer claimed 29.41 percent of the straw poll while Cannon came out on top with 70.59 percent.
Sawyer’s father-in-law Scott Heiner, a Stoddard resident, read a prepared statement in Sawyer’s absence. Sawyer holds a bachelors degree in government and a master degree in public policy, and is a reservist at Hill Air Force Base. He said the Mountain Green area deserves representation possibly in the form of a new, second planning commission. However, he thinks the idea of incorporating Mountain Green as its own city needs further investigation.
“I am a strong believer more involvement yields better results,” Sawyer’s letter read. “We need to involve the Mountain Green area as much as possible.”
“I am a strong believer in local government,” said Cannon, a 14-year resident. “You have to know what is going on locally and say ‘no’ to federal dollars.”
At another meet the candidate event, Cannon said she was asked how she would make county residents’ lives better if she were elected. “I will not make your life better,” she said. “I will keep this government farther away from bugging you.”
Other local candidates running unopposed were also on hand for the convention. Local candidates include incumbent Jann L. Farris for county attorney, John Barber for County Council District 2, incumbent Austin F. Turner for County Council District 5, incumbent Ned L. Mecham for County Council at-large, incumbent Blaine Breshears for county sheriff, and incumbent Bonnie B. Thomson for county treasurer.