Purcell Says Experiences Have Prepared Him to Become Commissioner

By Alan Van Zandt | avanzandt@kq2.com

Published 07/28 2014 09:39PM

Updated 07/29 2014 10:31AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)  For someone who headed up the North American operations of Xerox and traveled the country, Al Purcell found a home in St. Joseph 18 years ago.

"We absolutely love this community," he said referring to himself and his wife of 52 years, Annie.

In his time in St. Joseph, Purcell says he's immersed himself in the community, volunteering for a number of groups and organizations. He is currently on the Board of Governor's at Missouri Western and was previously chair of the board at Heartland Health. His next focus is becoming presiding commissioner of Buchanan County.

"What I'm about is getting people to come together to talk about what our county can be," he said. "Can we be a better county?"

Purcell says one of his biggest priorities will be working on the Missouri River's unstable levee system in the county. In addition to protecting the $150 million of economic benefit from Rosecrans and the 139th Air Guard, he says south st. Joseph is threatened.

"We really have to get after that," he said. "It's a $66 million problem. We have $2 billion worth of business at risk in the southern part of the city."

And while a rising river could threaten the economy, Purcell says the river also can provide an economic opportunity.

"We have what many would call a world-class port there that only does $2 million of business," Purcell said. "There's a $100 million opportunity there."

Those who support Purcell say he's the right man to be presiding county commissioner.

"It's leadership experience that we miss frequently in our community," said John Hickman, who showed up to support Purcell at a recent campaign event. "It's a perspective we don't have access to that often. So I think we need to take advantage of it while we've got it."

"There's a clear choice to be made in terms of past experience is a definite precursor to future performance," said Purcell. "It isn't something one does in the last six months or last year."

Purcell is running in the Republican primary against Harry Roberts.

The winner will face off against Democrat Mike Veale, who is running for his party's nomination unopposed.

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