Race for presiding commissioner: Democratic candidate Wissman concerned about waste

Friday, July 23, 2010
Pat Wissman

A desire to make the Cape Girardeau County Commission for the people and by the people provides the motivation for Democrat Pat Wissman's campaign for presiding commissioner.

The retired over-the-road truck driver said he is concerned with the way the commission is currently operating.

"I love how it can be used to help people, and seeing what is going on now and how it is being abused and misused to me is wrong," he said. He said he would like the commission to consider the best interests of county citizens and refrain from self-promotion.

Wissman said he was concerned with some of the waste within the commission and thinks technology is the answer.

"There are several trips they make out of town for a one-day meeting that you waste gas on and a hotel room that can be done with video conferencing," he said. "It's done quite a bit. A lot of companies are using it. You can sit there, and you can see them and they can see you. You are as much a part of it as if you were sitting there."

Wissman said one of his top priorities would be to make health and dental care more affordable and accessible. However, he was not willing to disclose specifics on how to achieve that goal.

"I would love to tell you, but I have found in the past before a primary if you announce this, everybody jumps on it. It's there. If they know how to look for it, they can find it just like I did," Wissman said.

He said he is talking to businesses about the benefits of locating in the county. While the strengths of the community include a good work ethic, a good tax base and strong schools and churches, he said not enough is done to promote the county.

"We have great assets in this area, but they're not exploited," Wissman said.

One way Wissman did say he would create jobs is through making the county more environmentally friendly. Again, specifics were not forthcoming.

"Without getting into it, there's another company I'm looking at that I would like to get here that would have products for making the county green. Very eco-friendly. It's hard to go into that in a primary because what's going to happen is people will pick up the ideas. Been there, done that," he said.

Another area he would like to improve is accessibility. He said as presiding commissioner he would make it easy for constituents to meet with him. He said he would be a full-time commissioner and have regular office hours. He said he would also make evening appointments with residents unable to attend commission meetings during work hours.

"In today's economy, you can't afford to take off work. Some people are working two and three jobs, that's both husband and wife, just to make ends meet. That's tough. Why not help them out? It's not going to hurt you, that's your job," he said.

He said he realizes that his campaign faces challenges because of his party affiliation. However, he said voters should look past his party and give his ideas consideration.

"This has always been a Republican county," Wissman said. "They need to stop looking at Republican, Democrat, independent, whatever, and start looking at the person that can actually get the job done and treat the people fairly and with respect. It's tough, but that about sums it up. They need to stop looking at the end of the nose on their face and go beyond it and see the scope of what a Democrat can do in the future to make the county a better place."

Wissman said that unlike other candidates, he is not afraid to admit that he will have some on-the-job learning to do and said Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones, who is not running for re-election, is the one to teach him.

"I do know going in that I will need to summon the expertise of the commissioner that is leaving the office. I believe I could work with him," he said. He also feels he can work with commissioners Jay Purcell and Paul Koeper.

While Wissman has no experience as an elected official, he has run for a variety of offices and that persistence has impressed Cape Girardeau County Democratic Central Committee chairman Mark Baker. He said Wissman's intentions are pure.

"I think Pat is a lifelong Democrat and seems to understand the community," he said. "He takes input very well before assuming too much. He is a good listener. People are always smarter when they listen twice as much as they speak."

Baker said Wissman has a genuine desire to improve the county.

The primary election is Aug. 3.

cbartholomew@semissourian.com

243-8600

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