With Greene County’s presiding commissioner not seeking reelection next fall, Circuit Clerk Steve Helms has announced his intentions to run for the vacancy. KSMU’s Scott Harvey reports.
Helms, a Republican, made his candidacy public Tuesday before family and supporters in the rotunda of the Greene County Courthouse, where the 48-year-old criticized big government and what he deemed errors in past policy. Helms says jail overcrowding and an increased debt, coupled with a cash-flow crunch due to the poor economy, have highlighted a “bad deal” from 1997.
“It was when our county leaders struck a deal with the city that if they would support a tax that we would give them part of it. Well unfortunately, they jumped on that gravy train, and since then we’ve given them over $95 million out of $160 million that have been collected for the county,” Helms said.
Helms was referring to the voter-approved Law Enforcement Sales Tax, which he believes unfairly favors the city.
Helms, who has served as Circuit Clerk since 2008, also pledged to continue to provide the necessary services of government without a “never-ending growth” in the tax rate. He says government can’t keep pulling money out of the economy and expect that people will have more money to spend for local goods and services.
“A low, consistent and simple tax policy will encourage more growth long-term than any gimmicks bribing one business or another to relocate or to expand. Government doesn’t have the right, nor should it have the authority, to pick and choose the winners and losers of our economy.”
Helms has the support of Greene County’s current presiding commissioner, Jim Viebrock, who last month said he will not run for a second term in 2014. Viebrock says he believes Helms has the political experience and conservative principles and values to help guide Greene County through its financial issues.
Viebrock says the other possible candidates to emerge include Republican Bob Cirtin and Democrat Dave Coonrod, who was unseated by Veibrock in 2010 after 16 years as presiding commissioner.