A total of eight candidates appeared at the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum Tuesday night at the Sedalia Municipal Building, 2nd and Osage.

Candidates for City Council Ward 2 and 3, Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education, and the Pettis County Ambulance District board gave three-minute opening statements, followed by an Q & A section.

Audience members were given the opportunity to fill out question cards, which were then read by moderator Mary Merritt. The candidates were then allowed to answer the question.

Candidates attending included Bill Griffith, Sr., and John Fritz running for PCAD Board District 4, Andrew Dawson (2nd Ward) and Bob Cross (3rd Ward) running for City Council, and Matt Herren, Diana Nichols, Barbara Jean Schrader and Richard Thomas running for Sedalia District 200 School Board.

Sedalia Ward 4 Councilwoman Megan Page is running unopposed on the ballot, but was in attendance Tuesday night.

"The League loves to do these, because our big push is always to send an educated voter to the polls," commented LWV member Kathleen Boswell.

Moderator Merritt noted that only candidates with competition on the ballot were invited.

Carol Sawyer served as the official timekeeper.

A presentation on the Pettis County 911 system switching to a central dispatch was given to start off the forum. The issue on the April 2 ballot will ask voters to tack on a $1 per month fee for each mobile device capable of calling 911. The fee would be set by the Pettis County Commission and include landline and cellular devices, except prepaid devices.

Heather Haney with the Sedalia-Pettis County Emergency Management Agency explained that before the widespread advent of cell phones, a fee was collected from landline owners that resulted in about $800,000 in revenue. Now, that figure has dwindled to about one tenth of that, due to so few people using landlines as their primary telecommunications device.

With the proposed $1 per month cell phone fee, it is expected that between $500,000 and $700,000 of revenue will be generated. The Missouri Department of Revenue would start collecting the fees in October. Existing 911 landlines fees would be eliminated if the the measures passes with voter approval.

County officials have estimated that the cost to switch to a central dispatch with new radio systems over a two-year period would amount to around $1.4 million. The new fee would offset some of that cost, it was noted.

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