If you’ve already voted, you may have been confused by the lineup of men vying for the position of Supervisor in the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District. You aren’t alone.
The District’s board is made up of seven non-partisan supervisors, and each is elected to four-year terms and serves without compensation. There are seven men running for four open spots on the board. Those men include two incumbents (Robert Bradford and Scott Thornhill) and five others (Guy Raymond, Larry Butler, Mark Wooten, Calvin Shake and Michael Farmer). You can read a very brief paragraph about the incumbents on the district’s website. No information exists about any of the new candidates’ positions or reasons for seeking the office…no websites, no endorsements, nothing that a quick internet search could uncover. Making an educated decision in this race seems impossible, unless you know one or more of the candidates.
The Soil and Water Conservation District works closely with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, but is separate. It’s been around since 1944, and the board works to help private property owners reduce soil erosion and establish riparian zones to protect water quality.
The district’s board supervisors offer comments on how plans submitted to the city will affect the soil and water (though they don’t have the authority to deny permits). They run environmental education programs, and give out federal money to conservation projects.
Former board member and current board advisor Ward Wilson says the board members will shape the district’s policies for the next four years—choosing whether to focus money and outreach on farmers or urban issues, for example, and where to direct educational efforts. He says usually the races aren’t this contested, but there’s a lot of interest this year.
Barring any substantive way to choose between the candidates, we’ll see tonight which four men have the greatest name recognition in the county and are elected to the board.