August 4 is right around the corner, meaning it’s almost time for the primary elections.
So, it’s time for Taney County to meet the candidates for Taney County Public Administrator.
On the ballot you will see Tonja J. Friend, R. Scott McAdams and Joanna Jasper running for the position of Taney County Public Administrator.
The following interviews are the answers supplied by Friend, McAdams and Jasper to four identical questions during a phone interview.
Answers are edited for space.
Friend: “I’m from here. I have served in the Navy reserves. I’ve also worked in doctor’s offices and hospitals in the local area. Right now I work in I.T. and G.I.S, which means I like maps. I have the medical experience, and I’ve also volunteered in different capacities in our area. I’ve volunteered for NA, I’ve babysat for them while the parents went to the classes, and I volunteered at my church also. I helped a gentleman in my church get his disability, which took us three years to get done. I filled out all his paperwork, all his medical information and recreated eight years of his life, which was really difficult because he really wanted to forget eight years of his life. It was kind of fun.”
McAdams: “I live in Hollister. I’ve been in Missouri and Taney County for 27 years. I worked in tourism both in hospitality and entertainment until 2004 and then got into real estate. I’ve owned and managed multiple real estate businesses for the last 15 years.”
Jasper: “I am a lifelong resident of Taney County and the daughter of Cecil and Stella Beeler of Kissee Mills. My dad’s family has called Taney County home for six generations. I graduated from Forsyth High School, and I have been married to my husband James for 30 years this December. We have two adult children and one grandson whose name is Conner. I have worked for Taney County for 21 years in December. Nineteen of those years I’ve worked for the Taney County auditor. I have gained extensive experience in accounting, budgeting, and inventory management. I have also been cross-trained in payroll and employee benefits. My current position is deputy auditor, and I assist in internal audits and preparing and monitoring the county budget.”
Why are you running?
Friend: “I believe that I have the medical experience that is going to help the people, and the compassion that it needs to take care of the people in need in Taney County. It’s really a passion that I have to help others that are in need that cannot do this for themselves, and I think a lot of times they’re the forgotten people of Taney County.”
McAdams: “I have been very blessed, I’ve been successful with businesses and management and thought this would be an opportunity to give back to the community and the citizens of Taney County.”
Jasper: “First and foremost, I care about people and what happens to them. I’m very much a people person. I have a lot of work experience and knowledge in accounting and I know there’s a lot of that involved in that office as well with their finances and their checking. I just want to be able to improve the quality of life of people that the state entrusts me to. I think everybody should be treated with respect and compassion and kindness. If elected, my staff will follow the national guardianship code of ethics, allowing the individuals as much freedom in making medical decisions, living arrangements, whatever they can have input in, as well as keeping their dignity. I think that’s important to everybody.”
What important issue do you want to tackle if elected?
Friend: “There really isn’t an agenda or issue with the public administrator, other than to take care of people with dignity, compassion and kindness. That’s the only thing that I want to tackle and continue to take care of and just to show the people that they matter in Taney County.”
McAdams: “There are several things that have come to my attention that I think that they could possibly be improved upon. One of them is the automation of the office, trying to bring it up to standards with newer hardware and software in order to make it more efficient for the financial side of things, as well as for the human resource side of things. The second thing is, I would like to continue on the path of respectfully treating the wards of the public administrator. Because the court appoints the public administrator to come in when there’s already issues at hand. You have to be very delicate, I think, in order to remember that the wards are human beings and that they have feelings and they can be vocal about what they want to happen in their own lives and you have to be able to communicate well in order to tell them that, in fact, that’s not going to be feasible at this situation and make these strides in order to move forward. So, again I think dealing with the wards in a very respectful way is one of my highest priorities.”
Jasper: “With the number of the mental disabled cases increasing, pretty much everywhere, I’d like to see more specialized training and continuing education for the entire staff of that office to be better prepared to handle situations and corporate appropriate services for those people. I’d also like to update the computer software in that office, it’s pretty outdated from what I understand. I would like to have something that all the employees have the same access to.
That way if someone’s out of the office, someone else is always available there to help and keep things rolling in a timely fashion.”
Is there anything about your campaign you want voters to know?
Friend: “I think I have an understanding with medical experience, and the Navy has taught me so much about the things that are bigger than me. (I want voters to know) that I sincerely want to take care of the people that have the least, and I want to do the best job that I can with the knowledge that I have prior to this. I believe with all of my experiences that I can pull them all together and do the best job ever for the people in Taney County.”
McAdams: “This has been a strange election year because of COVID. All the normal procedures and policies for meeting constituents, shaking their hand, introducing yourself, hearing their concerns, answering their questions, have kind of been tossed on it’s ear because of COVID. So, what I would like for people to know the most is that I would appreciate the opportunity to serve the people of Taney County. Both of my opponents are already valued employees of the county. This will be my opportunity to pay back my successes to Taney County and the citizens of Taney County.”
Jasper: “Honestly, I have the biggest heart when it comes to people, especially people that don’t have anyone to advocate for them. I’ve spent countless nights in hospitals and care centers with families, especially my dad until he died in 2017. I took over helping my parents with their expenses about eight years ago. I took care of their checkbook and pay their bills and take care of medical appointments and insurance issues and things like that. It’s just given me a better understanding that even people who have family, they still need someone to help. People who don’t have anyone, it’s even more important for them to have somebody to advocate for them and to be their voice when they can’t do that themselves. I think if you combine that with my years of experience with accounting and my other background that I’ve kind of been training for this position longer than I even realized I was.”