wo candidates are vying for a seat as Platte County Commissioner for district one (southern Platte County) in the Tuesday, Aug. 4 Republican primary election. They are: incumbent Dagmar Wood and challenger Dan Mason.
Dan Mason is a retired federal agent who had a career working for the Office of Inspector General within the U. S. Department of Agriculture investigating fraud and waste. Because he received police officer training for his federal position, Mason is qualified to work security.
After working for the federal agency for 28 years, he retired in 2015 and currently works in court security at the federal courthouse in downtown Kansas City. Mason said his background qualifies him as “a public servant who’s never been a politician.”
He said friends, knowing his background, encouraged him to run for office, where he plans “to bring honesty and integrity to the county” if he wins the commissioner seat.
Mason said communication is key and elected officials should be able to work well with other elected officials in the county. He said his opponent, Dagmar Wood, is responsible for helping to create an adversarial relationship between the county commission and the Platte County Health Department.
He said the current COVID-19 pandemic prompted Wood to claim she could get the county opened for business quicker than anyone else. Wood also launched other criticism of the health department. But Mason said various agencies should work together, not criticize those in other agencies.
“That’s not your job as a commissioner,” said Mason, who has lived in Platte County 41 of his 55 years. “Your job is to find solutions-not to slap them on their hand and say, ‘You’re not doing your job right.'” He called Wood’s criticism of the health department “self-serving.”
Mason added that he is a 1982 Park Hill High School graduate whose only time not living in the county was first few years of his life, during college and a 10-year stint working and living in Denver. He and his wife, Deb, have one grown son.
Mason said he also plans to cut spending and believes commissioners wasted about $48,000 hiring a consultant to advise them how to educate voters about two issues also on the Aug. 4 ballot: a quarter cent sales tax for parks and trails and a quarter cent sales tax for public safety. Mason favors both plans and believes, following a recent discussion with Platte County Sheriff Mark Owen, that sheriff’s deputies should receive a higher wage to keep them working for the department following training. As it stands, deputies receive training and a little experience, then leave because they can earn more money working for other law enforcement agencies or the private sector, he said.
“It’s just like a vicious cycle,” he said of the trend.
He said he learned from the sheriff that the department is down about 15 deputies and believes the numbers should be increased “to keep them here to help protect the citizens of Platte County.” He said the county needs to prioritize raising deputy base pay from $4,000 to $9,000 annually to compete.
Masaon said a good way to eliminate waste is to “cross-train employees to work for different departments,” especially if the county, given the current short fall in taxes due to pandemic, is forced to cut costs. He called the pandemic and the challenges it creates “a big learning curve for everybody. So let’s learn from it and be even better prepared for next time.”
Mason said he considers three areas top priorities: public safety “first and foremost public safety,” maintaining infrastructure such as safe roads for travel and upkeep on parks and trails to serve “the county’s growing population,” and attracting businesses and increasing jobs within the county to increase tax revenues.
“Now more than ever, we need to come together as a county and set aside our differences to eliminate waste and solve problems with common sense solutions,” Mason said.
The incumbent did not respond to voicemails left by a Landmark reporter and she later requested questions be sent to her by email. After the questions had been emailed to her, Wood later responded with a text message saying “I am swamped so won’t be responding.”