Primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 7: Voters head to the polls to elect prosecutor, judge, representative – and decide Gainesville school levy


A large crowd filled the main dining room and the two side rooms Friday at The Center in Gainesville, where the Ozark County Farm Bureau hosted an after-lunch “Candidates Meet-and-Greet” session. Most of the candidates in the locally contested races made brief presentations; circuit clerk / recorder Becki Strong, running unopposed for re-election, also spoke to the audience. A spokesperson at The Center said about 130 fried-fish lunches were served before the political event, up from the average 80 lunches usually purchased on Fridays.

Voters from Ozark County – and throughout Missouri – will go to the polls Tuesday for this year’s primary election. Election judges will welcome voters at 10 poling places throughout the county from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Poling places are listed with the sample ballot on page B7 of this week’s Times.) 

Locally, voters will decide who the county’s next associate circuit judge and prosecuting attorney will be as only Republican candidates have filed for the positions. John Russo is challenging incumbent John Garrabrant for the prosecutor’s job, and Raymond Gross is challenging incumbent Cynthia MacPherson for the associate circuit judge position.

Two names will also appear on the ballot in the race for presiding county commissioner – incumbent John Turner and challenger Seth Smith of Isabella. However, Smith has told the Ozark County Times that he is withdrawing from the race for personal reasons. At press time Tuesday, Ozark County Clerk Brian Wise said Smith had not yet signed paperwork officially withdrawing from the contest, and his name will still appear on the ballot.

These candidates are running unopposed in next week’s primary: incumbents county clerk Brian Wise, circuit clerk/recorder Becki Strong and county treasurer Phyllis Gaulding Turner. Deputy county collector Darla Sullivan is running unopposed for the collector’s job, to replace retiring county collector Bill Hambelton.

Ozark Countians will also help elect the state representative for District 155, which includes all of Ozark and Douglas County and half of Taney County, as incumbent Lyle Rowland is retiring due to term limits. Candidates for the position are Karla Eslinger of Wasola, Mike Lind of Thornfield and Jack L. Clemans of Brown Branch / Bradleyville. 

No Democratic or other party candidates have filed for any of these positions.

Residents in the Gainesville R-V School District will decide whether to approve a 75-cent school levy increase from  the current $2.75, the state minimum, to $3.50 per $100 assessed valuation. Those wanting to know an estimate of how their taxes will change if the school levy passes – along with the ambulance sales tax increase approved earlier this year and, for some landowners, recently reassessed property values, can call the collector’s office at 679-4448. 

School officials say the increased levy is needed to repair, renovate, update and make improvements on the 55-year-old high school building and also replace the 25-year-old heating-and-cooling system at the elementary school. The increased funds would also be used to improve student safety and security measures at both schools, including a “hardened” addition at the elementary school that would serve as a storm shelter that could withstand winds of up to 180 to 200 mph. The higher levy would also pay for roof repairs on the high school and replacement of failing floor and ceiling tiles and lockers at the middle school and high school. 

Funds would also be applied to efforts toward recruiting and retaining qualified and talented faculty members. 

Gainesville superintendent Jeff Hyatt says the district will work hard to use the funds efficiently so that, after these updates and other maintenance and repair work are completed, the district may be able to build a new gymnasium sometime in the near future.

Statewide, voters will decide major party candidates who will run in the Nov. 6 general election for U.S. Senator (the seat currently held by Claire McCaskill, who has filed for re-election), and for state auditor. 

The race for U.S. representative for the 8th District is also on the ballot, but incumbent Jason Smith is running unopposed on the Republican ticket; on Nov. 6 he will face Jonathan L. Shell, who is running unopposed on the Democratic ticket.

The only statewide issue to be voted on is Proposition A, which asks voters to decide whether to adopt “Right-to-Work” legislation that prohibits employees to belong to and/or pay dues in a union if they don’t choose to. 

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423

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