by Ivan Foley
One term as presiding commissioner of Platte County will be enough for Jason Brown. For now, at least.
In news first reported by The Landmark Friday afternoon at Twitter.com/ivanfoley, Brown says he will not be filing for re-election.
“I’m not running again,” Brown told The Landmark in a phone conversation. “I’ll soon be able to retire from the military and there are other things I want to do right now, and those things mainly center on my kids.”
In addition to his retirement eligibility from the Army coming soon, Brown said he has been building a sustainable cattle business since 2010.
Brown’s announcement leaves two experienced elected officials in the running. Jim Plunkett, a former second district county commisisoner, and Ron Schieber, a state reopresentative serving southern Platte County, have both said they will run for presiding commissioner. Both are Republicans.
Many incumbents announce early their intention to file re-election, so when no such announcement had come from Brown the speculation began that he may not have his heart in a race in 2014. His campaign fund showed little activity. When asked about that recently by The Landmark, Brown simply remarked: “Whenever I’ve wanted to raise campaign money I’ve been able to raise money.”
Some issues in his term would have provided a target for opponents. As first reported by The Landmark in 2012, Brown had controversially worked for the selection of J.E. Dunn to handle construction management work for the expansion of the two county community centers, even though Dunn’s bid was hundreds of thousands of dollars higher than the lowest bid. Brown acknowledged being a former employee of J.E. Dunn.
A controversial high density subdivision known as Chapel Ridge approved by Brown had angered some neighbors of the project who had organized opposition and have since filed a lawsuit against the county hoping to have the project overturned.
Brown, 43, indicated neither situation was a driving force in his decision not to seek reelection.
“If I ran, we would plan on winning. We would put together a campaign that would win,” he said Friday.
Brown easily won election in 2010, defeating Democrat Bobby Kincaid 63 percent to 37 percent.
“I take problems head on. When I took office, I knew we had the emergency radio situation ahead of us. We had budget challenges. I knew this stuff, and it didn’t bother me,” he remarked.
He said finding a manageable solution to Shiloh Springs, the county’s money-losing golf course, and dealing with the apparent need to expand the county jail will be items that will fill his time as a commissioner the rest of 2014.
Later Friday after his phone conversation with The Landmark, Brown released a written statement. Following is that statement in its entirety:
“In February of 1989 I voluntarily took an oath and joined the Army, with two deployments and over 20 years of service, in February of 2015 I will be eligible to retire. Since February of 2002 I have filed to run for office five times and have won five times. During each of these election cycles my family and I have decided to file and continue to serve the citizens of Platte County. The last 12 years has left me humbled and blessed to have the support of so many Platte Countians.
“Shortly after being elected presiding commissioner in 2010, I came to realize that I had held public office since my daughter was age four and that my boys have never known anything but their dad in public office. While next to being a husband, father and leading soldiers in combat, being elected has been the next greatest honor of my life. I have always believed in God, country, and family. These values have not changed and nor will they.
“Our business is growing and we are looking for land, the kids are getting older, grandparents are retiring and it's just time to concentrate on family. As I have come to realize after missing a lot during the last twelve years, you only get time to be around for certain things once and then it's gone. After discussions with family and close friends, February of 2014 will mark the first time in 12 years of elected public service that I will not file for this election cycle.
“There is and always will be much more to life than just being elected, right now is the time for family. I want to thank everyone for their support, but especially our Congressman Sam Graves, Jeff Roe, John Elliott, and David Allan for not just their support but for their friendship. Thank you all and God bless."