The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

July 25, 2010

Newton County voters to tab circuit clerk, presiding commissioner

NEOSHO, Mo. — Voters will choose among four candidates vying for the Republican nomination for Newton County presiding commissioner and three candidates seeking the nod for circuit court clerk during the Aug. 3 primary election.

Presiding commissioner

The GOP aspirants seeking to succeed retiring Commissioner Jerry Carter are Clarence Nowak, Marilyn Ruestman, Rick McCully and Donald “Buzz” Ball. Unopposed in the primary are Democrat Robert Brumback and Libertarian Roxie Fausnaught.

Nowak, 73, has lived in Newton County for 20 years. He lives at 11960 Osborn Lane in rural Neosho. He retired from the construction trade and is a hobby farmer. He said he studied business law and computer sciences by correspondence for three years. He served two years in the Army. This is his first bid for elected office.

Nowak said he would push for the county to adopt stricter measures for dealing with those who are caught littering.

“I’d like to see industry come in, but I can’t see them coming in any more than I can see you coming into a messy restaurant and coming back,” he said. “We need to clean it up. If we catch (people) littering, make them clean it up for two or three hours a day. Anybody will pay a fine and do it again, but if they have to go out there and clean it, they’ll think twice about going out there and doing it again.”

Ruestman, who declined to give her age, has lived in Newton County since 1972. She lives at 5590 Riverside Drive in Joplin. She and her husband own Ruestman Investment Co. She holds a master’s degree in human resource development from Pittsburg (Kan.) State University. She has served as state representative from the 131st House District for the past eight years.

Ruestman said her experience in the state Legislature working with budgets and county classification issues makes her the best candidate for the job.

“I do have the experience and contacts from all my years serving Newton County, and frankly I think I’m the only candidate running who has that experience,” she said. “I think the budget will be a concern, and I’m a fiscal conservative. My record is known. I think people want to be comfortable that someone isn’t going to make big promises and spend a lot of money that the county doesn’t have.”

McCully, 58, has lived in Newton County since 1964. He lives at 12979 Prospect Lane in Neosho. He is a self-employed handyman and a volunteer firefighter with the Granby Fire Department. He attended, but did not graduate from, Crowder College in Neosho. He served six years on the East Newton School Board in the early 1990s, as well as two terms on the Granby City Council from 1998 to 2002, and two terms as Granby mayor from 2002 to 2006.

McCully said he is running to help the people of Newton County and to work to improve county roads.

“That’s the biggest concern of 90 percent of the people you talk to,” he said. “I don’t know without getting in there and looking at the budget how we can improve the roads, but I’m all for improving them if we can.”

Ball, 54, was raised in Newton County and returned to the area in 1999. He lives at 710 S. Lincoln St. in Neosho. He previously worked for 21 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter, editor and general manager for newspapers in Kansas, Missouri and Iowa. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Harding University in Searcy, Ark. This is his first bid for elected office.

Ball said that “now is the right time” for him to run for commissioner.

“I’ve always wanted to get involved and serve in a public office,” he said. “I have more knowledge about the county because I’ve lived here all my life. I know the people, I know the problems, and I’m willing to listen.”

Circuit court clerk

Three Republicans are vying for the nomination for circuit court clerk: Phillip Van Winkle, Patty (White) Krueger and Tabitha Tichenor. No Democrat filed for the office, so the winner of the primary contest virtually is assured of election in November.

Van Winkle, 46, has lived in Newton County for more than 33 years. He lives at 730 Pearl St. in Neosho. He has been a full-time deputy with the Newton County Sheriff’s Department for 25 years, the last 10 as civil process server. He attended, but did not graduate from, Crowder College in Neosho and Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. This is his second bid for the circuit clerk’s office, after losing to incumbent Peggy Spicer in 2006.

Krueger, 42, is a lifelong resident of Newton County. She lives at 12992 Kalmia Drive in Neosho. For the past 15 years, she has been the assistant to Timothy Perigo, presiding judge of Newton County Circuit Court. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Missouri Southern State University and a court management certificate from Missouri State University in Springfield. This is her first bid for elected office.

Tichenor, 32, is a lifelong Newton County resident. She lives at 416 S. Washington St. in Neosho. She has been a deputy circuit clerk for Newton County for almost five years. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration at Missouri Southern State University. This is her first bid for elected office.

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