Jeff Wisdom filed Wednesday for the Associate Commissioner-District 1 seat, currently held by Republican Harold Bengsch.
The two men will face each other in the August primary election to determine the GOP nomination for the seat. Candidates have until March 27 to file for August races.
Wisdom says public safety is a major issue in the campaign. In a news release, Wisdom said
Greene County needs commissioners who will work in better cooperation, and is critical of decisions made by Bengsch and fellow Associate Commissioner Roseann Bentley, regarding spending.
Wisdom opposes a proposed law enforcement tax on the April ballot.
In a news release announcing his candidacy, Wisdom said; "While all candidates vying for position of associate commissioner agree that public safety is the number one priority in Greene County, we disagree on the best ways to achieve our long-term goals. I believe that, given the current economic hardship our residents have endured over the past few years, levying a new tax is the most burdensome approach.....The current 1/8 cent tax proposal, should it pass in April, will provide only temporary relief to a long-term problem, simply prolonging the lack of resources necessary to adequately solve the ongoing public safety issue. County leaders have admitted that the current tax proposal will not provide enough revenue to alleviate the overwhelming shortages in law enforcement personnel and support staff."
Wisdom's name may be familiar to Greene County voters. He ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for U.S. Representative in 2010, a seat that was ultimately won by Rep. Billy Long.
Wisdom's News Release:
Springfield, MO, Wednesday, March 14 - Jeff Wisdom, Republican candidate for Greene County Associate Commissioner, issued the following statement this afternoon:
Today, I have filed to run for Greene County Associate Commissioner in District 1, which encompasses the communities of Battlefield, Republic, Willard, and Ash Grove, in addition to western precincts of Springfield. I will challenge the incumbent associate commissioner for the Republican nomination in the August primary election. Candidates have until March 27 to file to run for office.
I believe the time has come for a new vision and return to accountable leadership in Greene County. We need associate commissioners that can clearly foresee our future needs and priorities, while safeguarding our public resources and keeping our tax burden low, enabling job growth and sustaining our standard of living. Presiding Commissioner Jim Viebrock has worked diligently during his tenure to move the county in the right direction. Unfortunately, many of his efforts have been met with resistance and stifled by fellow commissioners now seeking re-election. Rather than more of the same, we need associate commissioners who will pursue greater cooperation in the best interest of Greene County.
Given the current lack of resources in our law enforcement and public safety communities in Greene County, decisions made by our incumbent associate commissioners over the past eight years have been, at best, short-sided. Consequently, hard-working Greene County taxpayers are being asked to shoulder the responsibility for that lack of sound judgment and ineffectiveness in allocating our public resources. Greene County can do better and the citizens of our community deserve better.
Case in point, Greene County will soon have a state-of-the-art emergency management center, yet that is overshadowed by an overcrowded jail, along with a lack of jailors, deputies, and criminal justice staff. In hindsight, public resources would have been more productively utilized in funding additional law enforcement personnel and criminal justice staff, negating the requests for additional funding now. Past decisions such as this demonstrate a failure to adequately identify and prioritize the needs of county government.
The current 1/8 cent tax proposal, should it pass in April, will provide only temporary relief to a long-term problem, simply prolonging the lack of resources necessary to adequately solve the ongoing public safety issue. County leaders have admitted that the current tax proposal will not provide enough revenue to alleviate the overwhelming shortages in law enforcement personnel and support staff.
While all candidates vying for position of associate commissioner agree that public safety is the number one priority in Greene County, we disagree on the best ways to achieve our long-term goals. I believe that, given the current economic hardship our residents have endured over the past few years, levying a new tax is the most burdensome approach. Without the additional levy, on July 1, county residents would enjoy a small tax break.
Additionally, the current tax proposal contains no sunset clause, meaning it will be levied on a permanent basis. Nonetheless, that issue is currently before voters. Going forward, rather than additional taxes, our county needs a more comprehensive approach to fiscal management, including practical budgetary adjustments, reorganizing our overall tax structure, and redefining our priorities. Otherwise, taxpayers will be asked to pay more, again and again, without solving the underlying structural issues in the fiscal budget.
I can draw upon my diverse background to guide me in faithfully serving the citizens of Greene County. I was raised in a law enforcement household. My father served as a law enforcement officer for more than four decades, including thirteen years as a police chief. I have consulted him on the various public safety issues facing our area and can rely on his decades of experience to chart a course that ensures the county does not face a similar law enforcement crisis in the future.
I am a veteran, having served with the U.S. Navy in Iraq from 2007-2008, performing a "boots on the ground" mission of detainee operations, for which I received a commendation medal. Given this experience, I know and appreciate first-hand the challenges our jailors in Greene County face on a daily basis. I pledge my full support to them and the brave deputies that patrol our county roadways to ensure area families can feel safe and secure in their homes.
I hold undergraduate degrees in political science and economics, along with graduate degrees in economics and education. I have served in various capacities within higher education for two decades, teaching economics at the college level for the past sixteen years. I am currently an instructor on the Springfield campus of Ozarks Technical Community College. My wife, Rebecca, and I are proud to reside in Greene County and call it home.
In the next few months, I look forward to the opportunity of visiting with Greene County voters to outline my vision for a stronger and safer community. Our citizens need a choice for associate commissioner, one who shares their values and pledges to protect their future. I will be a candidate of solutions that will seek ways to permanently support and sustain our vital public resources.
Greene County is one of the best places in our nation to live, work, and raise a family. It is time for us to join together as citizens and find common ground in solving local problems. I humbly ask for the vote and support of all District 1 residents in the upcoming August primary election.