While neither candidate is an incumbent, the race for Cass County Clerk this election has some of the same feel as Republican Jeff Fletcher squares off against former county clerk Janet Burlingame, a Democrat. Burlingame was defeated by Mike Vinck four years ago by 101 votes out of more than 25,000 cast. Vinck chose not to run for re-election, opting to run for a state representative position.
Burlingame emphasizes her experience in the office. She worked in the office for 34 years including time as county clerk. “The county clerk’s position in a first-class county is very important. The job entails many things that people do not realize. Not only are you the election authority, but you are the county’s record keeper and even the clerk of the county commission. There are so many things and experience makes a big difference,” she said. She noted many people don’t realize the importance of the clerk’s office in calculating tax rates and tax bills. Burlingame said, “I respect the office and I was appreciative of being able to serve the citizens of Cass County. It would be my goal to maintain the highest level of integrity,” she said.
Fletcher is running for county office for the first time, but has served on the Belton City Council and is a past president of both the Belton and Raymore chambers of commerce. He notes customer service is a high priority for the office. “I am a big believer in customer service,” he said. “Like any business, it is important that people dealing with a government office are treated with respect and dignity.” He said a high priority if elected would be getting the county’s record system updated. “That is one area where I know there has been an issue and it needs to be addressed,” he said. During the past few weeks, a controversy has arisen about Fletcher’s personal property taxes. While he and his wife’s property taxes were paid in Cass County, personal property taxes on cars and a boat among other items in 2016 and 2017 were paid in Camden County where they have a lake home. Fletcher said he made a mistake. “Two years ago we were planning to move to our lake home full time. One of the things we did was change where we paid our taxes. When I first became aware of the issue in February, I filled out the card to change the location and thought that it had taken care of it,” he said. He said when he found there was still an issue, he contacted the collector’s office and there went immediately and paid the bill of more than $2,000. “It was an honest mistake and when I found out about it I corrected it. There’s really not much more I can say. I am sorry about it,” he said.