Candidates forum reaffirms individual stances

By Alan Dale Managing Editor
Posted 8/1/22

Yes, the races would be uncontested and by today Audrain County would receive confirmation of predestined wins by these dozen candidates.

However, that didn’t change the importance of …

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Candidates forum reaffirms individual stances


Yes, the races would be uncontested and by the end of Tuesday,  Audrain County would receive confirmation of predestined wins by  a dozen candidates invited to speak about the issues.

However, that didn’t change the importance of Thursday’s Candidates Forum held by the League of Women Voters at the Chamber of Commerce.

Alice Leonatti, Voters Service Chairman for the Mexico Audrain County League of Women Voters, spearheaded the event that saw eight of a dozen invited candidates to speak to the audience and reiterate some of their commentary printed in the July 27 issue of the Ledger and also add some more substance to their takes on how they will proceed in their jobs going forward.

Candidates for State Senate, Cindy O’Laughlin, County Clerk, Lisa Smith, Treasurer, Patty Meyers and Associate Judge, Linda Hamlett, did not attend.

Each candidate had a maximum of five minutes to answer two questions – what are your qualifications for the office and what two issues did they believe needed to be addressed once they took the seat.

These are some of the highlights:

Alan Winders, Presiding Commissioner

“I think it’s one of the best counties in the state and one of the things that make it the best is the people,” Winder said. “We have some retirements and some change over this year,” “I have every confidence that the team we’re going to have next year at the courthouse will miss out on the experience, but we will be strong on commitment and try to do a good job for the people in this county.”

Winders also noted the need to get a county hospital that is up and running because “The people of this county deserve a hospital.”

“I love my job: It’s not the easiest job I’ve ever had, but I didn’t ask for an easy job. I go to work every day trying to make something good for people in this county,” he said.

Leslie Meyer, Eastern District Commissioner

A former journalist who defended the agriculture business against Mike Bloomberg and went viral a few years back, Meyer wants to continue having the back of the farming community.

“We need to make sure and educate people about agriculture and its practices,” she said. “My main interest is that our main economy – which is ag – is protected.”

Appointed in November, Meyer said she wanted to give back to a community that gave her her first job out of college and ultimately introduced her to the man she would marry and have a family with for 21 years.

Amy LeCount, County Collector

LeCount was born and raised in Mexico all the way to her current status and she hopes to parlay it into good work for the county.

“I grew up on a farm as a kid and I learned that hard work and patience are the best things for success and especially education and I am an advocate for it,” she said. “I’ve put in the work: I’ve done the work for this position.”

Her goal is to see more efficient and faster work coming out of her office.

“I never thought I would run for a political position,” LeCount said. “I have loved every single minute of it. There is a learning opportunity every single day. I am so happy with what I am doing.”

Teresa Allen, County Recorder

Working for 17-plus years for the county, Allen has attended numerous seminars and training to be the best she can be for Audrain County.

“Presently our office doesn’t have credit card access so that is something that I would like to get implemented into the office that way people can also pay through debit or credit,” Allen said. “We are working on getting more of our documents online for title companies, searchers, and genealogy purposes. They pay a little bit of a fee but can go online and get their records that way.”

Megan Miller, County Circuit Clerk

Miller has worked her way up since graduating from high school and she hopes to make sure the processing of documents coming out of her office is much faster than what has been the norm.

“I love my job and I like what I do and that’s why I stuck around for so long,” she said.

Jacob Shellabarger, County Prosecutor

Shellabarger spoke of the challenges since COVID-19 and the use of video conferencing can move one from place to place in 15 minutes, but with that, the expectations can also increase.

“The lights are on almost every single day,” he said. “Now we have court every single day.”

Much of his work focused on reviewing cases and working with victim’s families

“I like my job about 95 percent of the time,” Shellabarger said. “We do hard, sad and difficult things. We see some of the worst and best things people do to each other.”

Kent Haden, State House Representative

Haden admits that all his work as a veterinarian got him familiar with horse and swine excrement and some days working in government can have that similar feeling.

He also noted his long career dealing with various animals and working in support of agriculture and during his four years as a House Rep, Haden has been involved in numerous areas and departments.

One of his focuses is trying to assist citizens with healthcare and making the costs worth the squeeze.

“We have no breaks on healthcare costs,” Haden said. “You might get away one time and then the (insurance companies) will raise your rates. The local pharmacies and local practitioners are heroes – they are the only one who can control their rates.”

Ayanna Shivers, State Senate

Born and raised in Mexico, Shivers came back because she wanted to make a difference and give back to the community.

Shivers said learning how to listen is, “The most important thing,” as the current city council member since 2017 has taken a stance on supporting teachers and pushing the importance of broadband access.

“We need to make sure our publicly funding our public education system as well as the transportation is paid for as well,” Shivers said. “We need to ensure that teachers who worked hard for and paid into their pension can keep their pension.

“Maybe we need to have that conversation about seeing (broadband) as a utility.”


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