The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Politics

April 22, 2014

First-time candidate Smith challenges Owens

Only 1 county commissioner seat on primary ballot

ANDERSON – Steffanie Owens is seeking the Republican Party nomination for a second term as Madison County commissioner against John Smith who is seeking his first political office.

“I love the job,” Owens said of her first term in office. “I feel like I have more to offer the community and to help citizens.”

Smith said he has been watching politics at the national and state level and realized it was tough to have an impact, but he believes he can at a local level.

“I was approached by several people,” he said. “The timing was right. We home-school our kids and talk about conservative values. This will give the kids a first-hand look at politics.”

Both candidates, who live in Markleville, are running in the May 6 primary on the Republican ballot for the Madison County commissioner South District. Deena Watkins, of Lapel, is running unopposed on the Democratic Party ticket.

A few years ago, the county had a balanced budget with a Republican Party majority, Smith said. The Madison County Republican Party has been battling internally since the 2010 election cycle when the traditional party organization was challenged by followers of tea party principles.

“The Republican Party decided to eat its own,” he said of disputes within the local party. “We all have a big R after our name. They’re supposed to have a conservative point of view. The retaliation that took place got my attention.”

Smith is just one of several challengers among the Republican Party incumbents for county offices in the primary.

Owens pointed to the goals she’ll tackle if re-elected, including the replacement of the Eisenhower Bridge in Anderson, improvements to the county infrastructure and creating an environment for the county to attract jobs.

“We do need to create a county economic development department,” she said. “The county needs to focus on our specific areas. Having our own department will make it easier to communicate with potential developers.”

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