While they may be running opposed to one another on the April 2 ballot, Seneca Special Road District candidates Bob Murray and Dale Ramsey can agree that the district needs a long-term plan.

While they may be running opposed to one another on the April 2 ballot, Seneca Special Road District candidates Bob Murray and Dale Ramsey can agree that the district needs a long-term plan.

The two candidates shared their visions for the district in a candidate forum held Monday evening at the Seneca Special Road District Barn.

A third candidate, Gale Webb, was not in attendance at Monday evening's forum.

There is one spot up for election on the board, to replace outgoing member Steve Williams who has opted not to seek re-election.

"I think in one year the patrons of our district will know that we have a plan, that we're working the plan and that we're headed the right direction," said candidate Bob Murray.

Murray is a retired educator and administrator who has worked in the Wheaton, Neosho R-5, and Neosho Christian School districts.

His opponent, Dale Ramsey, is also retired, after spending 25 years working for Shell Oil in Neosho.
Ramsey said he believes it is important to include the workers of the road district when the road district commissioners plan for the future.

"I think we should get with the foreman and get his input on a long-term plan, because he knows the county probably better than anybody," Ramsey said. "It wouldn't be chiseled in stone, if something came up, you'd have to go to that project or that problem and take care of it."

Moderator Chet Daniel, a resident of the road district, asked the candidates how they believed the revenue collected from the county's quarter-cent road and bridge sales tax should be spent.

Daniel noted that the levy had brought in more than $200,000 for the district.

Those sales tax funds must be spent on projects preparing a road for a hard surface or for putting down a hard surface, according to district 2 county commissioner Jim Jackson.

Murray said he didn't believe the road district commissioners should initially designate the district's funding sources to go toward specified areas without considering the overall revenue and needs of the district.

"We look at the total revenue and then we look at the priorities," Murray said.

"I think that they should try to maintain the blacktops that's already there rather than trying to build up some other ones," Ramsey said.

While not speaking specifically of the sales tax funded projects, both men agreed on the overall importance of performing needed maintenance on the district's roadways.

"I feel very strongly that whenever we improve a road and just go away and leave it and let it develop pot holes and deteriorate we just wasted that money and the road actually can become worse than it was as just a dirt road," Murray said.

Ramsey also expressed the importance of attending to the district's dirt roads, though he was concerned as to how the dirt roads would receive needed attention due to the requirement to spend the sales tax revenue on hard surface work or preparations.

"It sounds like all their work is going to be to maintain or improve blacktop roads and I just can't see how they could do that and maintain the dirt roads and what all it involves," Ramsey said.

Once elected to his new position, the winner will also take part in appointing a third board member, as the district currently has an unexpired term to fill.

The unexpired term was that of board member Steve Adams, who recently resigned from his position.

Murray said in appointing a new commissioner he would look for someone dedicated to the job, with a sense of business and finance understanding, as well as someone who is acquainted with the area and people of the district.

"Some knowledge of how roads are maintained would be helpful," Murray added.

Ramsey agreed that the appointee should be familiar with road maintenance.

"They should have a little knowledge about the county and especially the roads and equipment and so on," he said.
Neither of the men have previously served in the road district, though their opponent, Webb, has been on the board before.

Webb is currently a member of the Seneca R-7 Board of Education.