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Southern District Boone County Commission: Justin Aldred

Party: Democratic

Opponent: Incumbent Republican commissioner Fred Parry

Residence: Ashland

Occupation: Former Missouri state auditor special projects coordinator and Missouri Army National Guard officer

Education: University of Missouri, Wentworth Military Academy

Previous political experience: None

Family: Partner Laura Cutts; mother Justine Aldred

How would you assess the county’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic?

So, the COVID-19 pandemic was unexpected and highlighted mismanagement from the federal government to the local level across the country. Here in Boone County, our health department had so many obstacles both from within our local government to statewide mismanagement. Given these obstacles and the lack of resources at the state and local level, I believe the county commission has done and continues to do the best job they can to handle this pandemic.

For the most part, I think they've done a wonderful job providing resources to our local health department, and made efforts to work with municipalities and the hospital systems within Boone County to ensure a proper response. However, we saw some movement from people inside the county commission that undermines the overall health response. And I think that has to change. I also would like to see increased communication between the Boone County Commission, municipalities, the local business community and other areas stakeholders regarding how COVID-19 has affected us and how we can move forward. Additionally, I'd like to see the county CARES Act funds distributed in a faster manner to those who need it most.

Some legislators have suggested a bill to put health order power in the hands of county commissioners. Would you support such a change?

So I was not able to find the language of this bill. I'd like to read it before I make any decision about it. However, I think any health order will be ineffective if it does not have cooperation between and with both the county commission and local municipalities, as well as their health departments. We all have the same constituents that we care about, that we need to work together with to ensure the safety and well-being of our communities and ensure that we are being as effective as possible in our response.

Assess the relationship between the city and county. Does that relationship need work?

So I've sat down with leaders from both the county and the city government. I've established some very good relationships. And I think ultimately, both the county and the city at the end of the day, want what's best for their constituents, and we can always work to achieve our common goals there.

I think the county-city relationship is at a good point. However, I believe there are spaces where we can strengthen our relationship to make our communities better and increase benefits to the people. The power of the county commission is derived from relationships with other municipalities and stakeholders. In the next four years, I'd like the county to work with municipalities on things like the west area plan, increased quality of our road and bridge system and address new wastewater and sewer facilities. And of course, there's also Boone Hospital Center, one of the county's largest assets and it's within Columbia city limits.

County leaders say one of their biggest challenges is stagnant sales tax revenue. What should the county do to address this issue?

I think the best thing to help our local economy right now is stability and standardization.

The county can increase sales tax revenue by working in ways that restore customers' confidence and public confidence in our COVID-19 response. If individuals are confident that the county is taking proper steps to control the virus, they'll also be competent enough to buy food and necessities and participate in local commerce, which will eventually increase sales tax revenue in the long term.

Online sales tax are cutting into Boone County sales tax revenue. One of the alternatives I'd like to see in addressing this problem is the Wayfair fix, which would allow Boone County to collect sales tax from online out-of-state retailers. This type of benefit would not just fix things for Boone County government, it would also benefit Boone County's brick and mortar local businesses by offering an even playing field with large online retailers like Amazon

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