POLK COUNTY -- The candidates running for Polk County Commission Position No. 2, Republican Craig Pope and Democrat Danny Jaffer, both state a commitment to service drove them to seek office.
Pope, a Monmouth resident, said living and running a business in Polk County and being active in the community has given him a good feel for what the county needs in its leadership. When the seat on the commission opened up, he decided it was time to use that knowledge.
"Had my eye on becoming a commissioner for over 20 years," Pope said, adding it is time for him to make a career move.
"The timing is right for me. I've worked my way to this goal."
Jaffer, an Independence resident, said his motivation was seeing a chance to return a favor.
He said his education from kindergarten through law school was in public schools and his military career was supported with public funds.
"Taxpayers have invested in me for the last 40 years," he said. "I'm ready to give back."
Both candidates said the county has challenges ahead.
Pope said his attendance at board of commissioners and budget committee meetings has given him a preview of what possible budget cuts will look like -- and believes cuts will be necessary. Pope said he isn't ruling out any method of maintaining a balanced budget.
"I will be willing to look at every idea, but it has to make sense for the health of our county," Pope said.
Knowing cuts are likely, Jaffer said he wants to consider pay freezes or shortening work days to close funding gaps before talking layoffs. He said his own salary as a commissioner would be fair game.
"We need to make cuts that are not Draconian and spread the sacrifice," Jaffer said.
If elected, Pope would push to make the county more business friendly. He said that could be done by maintaining roads for logging, farm and industrial freight and easing land-use regulations to make relocation easier.
Jaffer said the county's role in bringing more jobs to the area should focus on expanding and maintaining infrastructure -- including a tourist friendly road system and expanding broadband access -- that create an environment where businesses can thrive and expand.
Both men say their work experience and community service will inform their decisions if elected to office.
Pope said owning a business and working on local boards has given him insight into issues facing the county.
"I have lived here all my life," Pope said. "I have been intimately involved and I've always been engaged in community support."
Jaffer said the military taught him how to analyze a situation and make decisions -- both on a quick timeline and with long-term planning. He added serving in locations worldwide has never lessened his appreciation of home.
"Polk County really is a great place to be," he said. "I've been other places and that has never taken Polk County out of my heart."