One of the local contested primary races August 2nd is the Buchanan County Eastern District Commissioner contest featuring a three-term incumbent facing off against a political novice.
Lifelong insurance executive Scott Burnham is at home going out and shaking hands. However, now instead of selling a policy, he's selling himself, running as a first-time candidate for Eastern District Commissioner.
:"I think this is a year for change. I think incumbents are going to have a challenge."
The 54-year old Burnham is a political novice, but cites his business experience as an asset for the job and understanding government's role in helping businesses succeed.
"I feel I have an understanding of what those businesses need and want from their government," he said. That's to get out of the way."
Meanwhile, Hausman says he is proud of his work during his 12 years on the county commission. He says he deserves another four years.
"I think we've made a lot of improvements in the county and I would like to do that and hate to see it go another direction," Hausman said. "You never know what the next guy is going to do."
Hausman says he's spent a lot of time with the county road staff, working to keep the county's transportation system safe. He says he's done so with fewer staff as there have been cuts during his terms on the commission.
One efficiency move he says he's made is securing equipment to keep the road repair oil hot, saving time.
"When I first started out I went out on the roads and guys were all setting around reading the newspaper," Hausman said. "I'd ask them what they were doing and they'd say they were waiting for oil to heat up. Today the oil is ready to go in that tank. We can put it in a truck and we can go out and spread it."
However, one issue Burnham's campaign has brought up in recent days is questions related to Hausman's mileage and travel reimbursements.
A recent Burnham campaign mailing suggests Hausman overstated his mileage he turned into the county for reimbursement. In fact, a copy of an expense form from September, 2015 signed by Hausman says he traveled a total of 909 miles during the month checking county roads. Presiding Commissioner Harry Roberts says the eastern district only has 204 miles of county roads.
"They didn't agree with everything I turned in," Hausman said. "The way they accounted for it wasn't totally right. So, I went back with an independent person and we looked at it. In the end, I didn't report everything I should have. Instead of owing them money, they owed me money."
Burnham does not accept the explanation.
"One of the things that I want to bring to the county courthouse is honesty, integrity, accountability and real business experience," he said. "I think that is one of the things that is lacking.
Hausman has countered back, pointing to campaign fundraising reports. Hausman says he's spent less than $2,000 in running for reelection while Burnham has raised more than $60,000 so far.
"They talk about corruption," Hausman said. "When you start taking large donations, people want something for that. There's nobody that I owe.
Burnham says the money he's raised for his campaign has been from nearly 75 different donors with none of them giving him more than $1,500. State campaign reports show Burnham has contributed more than $20,000 to his own campaign.
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