Greene County Commission Candidates on Budget, Jail Issues
Greene County will soon have a new county commissioner for District 2. Republican Lincoln Hough and Libertarian Cecil Ince are vying for the seat that is currently held by Roseann Bentley, who is retiring.
The county commission is comprised of three elected officials who serve four-year terms. The District 1 seat, held by Harold Bengsch, is also up for election Tuesday. He’s running unopposed.
Both Hough and Ince spoke with KSMU by phone. Hear their interviews below.
Lincoln Hough is a seventh generation resident of Greene County, and works full time in agriculture raising beef cattle. He’s wrapping up his third term in the Missouri House of Representatives. His 135th House District encompasses east central Springfield. Hough attended Springfield Public Schools and Missouri State University, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. He has been married to his wife Sarah since 2009 and they have a 3-year-old son.
Cecil Ince was born in Fort Worth, Texas, but was raised in Greene County. He has an associate’s degree in Performing Arts with an Acting Discipline. Ince says since he could vote, he has been registered Libertarian. He has attempted to run for office at least seven different times, but yet to win. Ince has a 15-year-old son.
The County budget
Hough says his work on the House Budget Committee has helped him make difficult choices to balance the budget, decisions that are facing the Greene County Commission. He was appointed to the committee as it was preparing to cut millions of dollars from the budget.
“I come from the field of thought that if you’re not at the table – you’ve heard the statement – if you’re not at the table then you’re on the menu…Having that background and having been through that scenario a few years already in Jefferson City I think gives me a leg up on moving forward with budgetary discussions at the county level.”
He adds that he needs more information about a previously considered, now tabled tax hike proposal for Greene County in order to voice an opinion. The proposal was one option to increase county revenue.
“My first question like I said, is it a dedicated revenue source for a specific problem?” Number two, is it something that we’re talking about sunsetting?”
Ince says he’s pledged “not to vote for any tax increases.”
As for Ince, he says that his main concern is the budget for the county, and he’d like to audit the county to learn “where we’re losing money.” He says he wants to reduce the county’s expenses and therefore the taxation on its citizens. He notes options such as outsourcing.
“You know, when we have wasteful government, we’re going to have extremely high taxes, and it’s time that we start looking at reducing these things.”
After hearing oral arguments last week, a judge will soon make a decision on a lawsuit filed by the city against Greene County in July 2015. It alleges the sheriff broke a 1997 agreement when he stopped accepting municipal inmates into the local jail. The decision by Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott was in response to the jail’s overcrowding issue.
Ince would prefer to see both sides enter mediation and “exit from the contract as soon as possible.”
“Greene County jail is for people who have committed violent offenses and that are a danger or a flight risk, and so as long as were housing people for municipal offenses and for non-violent offenses, were going to have overcrowding in our jail.”
He adds that Springfield has enough money to build a book and release facility so that non-violent offenders do not have to be incarcerated in the county jail for minor offenses.
For Hough, there is “no silver bullet” to solve the jail dispute, but says it’s important to take a collective approach to solve it.
“Everyone who’s in an elected office around here is serving, in my opinion, the same people. We all have the same constituencies and the same issues, and we need to work together collaboratively to find creative solutions moving forward.”
Ince is also focused on transportation and infrastructure here in Springfield, specifically a better county transportation system set up. He also wants more focus paid to road and bridge maintenance, calling the existing system poor.
“One thing I‘d like to start seeing is more routine maintenance, daily maintenance of our roads… I’d like to see true resurfacing of our roads where these roads will last longer,” says Ince.
Hough said he’d like to see salaries improve for the county’s workforce. He acknowledges there’s been improvement on that front, but retention is also key because of the costs for investing in workforce training.
“I want employees to come to the county and I want them to have a comfortable work environment and know that we are gonna buckle down, we are gonna do the work – this isn’t an easy job – but you are going to be appreciated and compensated for the work that you do.”
Funding (As of Oct 27):
Hough has raised over $200,000 in campaign contributions dating back to last year. Ince does not list a current report with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Lincoln Hough: http://lincolnhough.com/
Cecil Ince: http://www.restore-liberty.com/