Political candidates from across the state and county kicked off the election season with speeches and handshakes Saturday as residents in the Fox community raised more than $5,000 for their park and community center.
The Fox Pie Auction and Chili Supper, a long-time tradition in the rural Stone County community, drew candidates from governor to coroner who made their cases to voters and even participated in the auction that sold off dozens of local dessert specialties.
It was the first opportunity for county residents to hear from a field of three candidates for Stone County judge and an even more crowded list of candidates for sheriff.
In a rare political party scenario, the judge’s race features a contest between two candidates vying for the Republican nomination, the winner facing a 20-year Democratic incumbent who says he will now run as an Independent.
Robert Huckleberry of Fox faces Justice of the Peace Jim Nesbitt in the Republican contest. County Judge Stacey Avey will face the winner in November’s general election.
Nesbitt said his priorities include industrial recruitment and road improvement.
“We’ve got to go after industry now and stop just waiting for it to come to us,” Nesbitt said. “And I’ve spent a lot of time driving county roads recently and they’re in much worse shape than I even knew. We can’t just keep scraping these roads and tearing them up. We’ve got to get them up to grade and do more ditching.”
Huckleberry said he is running on a “people’s platform” based in part on some 200 surveys he’s used to gauge public opinion about issues facing the county.
The main issues, he said, are public safety and a rehabilitative component to the new Stone County Detention facility, more defined and effective policies and procedures for managing county government, and infrastructure development that includes more rural broadband internet.
Avey said the county is facing its biggest challenges with only about $5 million in revenue annually, the overwhelming portion dedicated to roads and law enforcement.
“It just doesn’t go that far and with the cost of fuel increasing, it amounts to less and less.
Avey said he wants to continue his public service role to complete the new jail. He said no one foresaw the construction complications that would accompany the COVID pandemic, and the county is now set to let the project for bid a second time this April.
Six of the seven candidates for Stone County sheriff spoke at the event.
Read the full story in the March 9, 2022 issue.
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