When voters in Miller County head to the polls on August 5, they will have a choice between the two Republican candidates for county clerk, Clinton Jenkins and Caleb Rowden.

When voters in Miller County head to the polls on August 5, they will have a choice between the two Republican candidates for county clerk, Clinton Jenkins and Caleb Rowden.

*Editor's Note: This article has been modified from it's original version. 

*Original Editor's Note: Miller County does not require email addresses as part of contact information for candidates running for county offices. A Lake Media reporter contacted all the candidates for Miller County office using phone numbers provided by the Miller County Clerk's Office. A reporter called candidate Caleb Rowden twice, once during the week of July 7 and again during the week of July 14. Both times, the reporter left a message. Rowden did not respond. Rowden contacted Lake Media saying he had not received a message from a reporter. After providing details of our reporters contact, Rowden located the messages on his phone. This article will be updated with Rowden's responses on Wednesday, July 30.

1. Please provide some background including public service, education and family.

Jenkins: I was raised in Tuscumbia where I graduated high school. For a few years after high school I worked in factories in Jefferson City. I had been considering joining the military then 9/11 made the decision for me. I spent the next eight years in the U.S. Air Force and the Missouri Air National Guard. While on active duty I was stationed in Germany. While in the Air National Guard I earned a B.S. in Risk Management from Missouri State University. After graduation I went to work for the Missouri Department of Labor. I had to leave that job to run for office and I currently work for MOHELA as a loan advisor. I now live in Eldon with my wife and three children; Xander (9), Chloe (4), and Liam (8 months).

Rowden: I am a seventh generation resident of Miller County. I grew up one of six children in Iberia and Tuscumbia. I graduated from Iberia High School and later from Columbia College – Lake Ozark Campus with a bachelor’s degree in history. I will receive my master’s degree in history from Missouri State University in December. I worked in the restaurant business where I managed several stores overseeing seven locations. In 2009 I built an apartment complex in my hometown of Iberia and started a firework business which I still own and operate both today. I love working with the public and have enjoyed being involved in running a business most of my life in Miller County.

The Camden County Clerk posts election updates as they are available on election night. Do you see Miller County doing that?

Jenkins: One of the things that I would like to look into is finding some volunteers that are tech savvy that could post election results online. The County Clerk and the rest of the election staff are usually swamped with work on Election Day. We also have to respect the fact that Miller County is a largely rural area. There a large sections of the County that do not have internet access. Reporting results to media outlets would still be necessary. The thing that I try to keep in mind is that a 25 year old is looking for election results in a completely different way than my Grandmother would. Information should be easily accessible for everyone.

Rowden: Absolutely, the Miller County Clerk’s office should post election updates as they are available on election nights. Half of the Clerk’s job is working as the Chief Elections Officer. Up to date information should be available to the public online to supplement traditional mediums. I would not only use the clerk’s webpage but also create a Miller County Clerk Facebook page where the latest changes to the clerk’s office and election results could be posted as soon as available for the public. Traditional sources of information should be utilized but there certainly is no reason the clerk’s office cannot provide updates online on election nights.

How do you think Miller County should keep pace with technology?

Jenkins: Miller County is currently keeping pace with technology. Elections and payroll are computerized. The main obstacle to any technology acquisition in a rural community is finding room in the budget. In Miller County we have to get the most value for our dollar. I cannot see justifying new computer systems or other technologies when we need more of the budget directed towards our roads and bridges. The most important technologies would have to be for the Sheriff’s Department and first responders. Any other technologies would have to be looked at on a case by case basis.

Rowden: This ties directly in with the previous question. Technology can be utilized to get up to date information for Miller County residents much faster through a website and Facebook page. Utilizing direct deposit would be an excellent way to run the office more efficiently. This would save a lot of time spent physically preparing checks every two weeks and is far more efficient for county employees. I spoke with the wife of one county employee who discussed with me that she had to spend an hour driving his check to their bank at the lake. Direct deposit is far more quick and efficient and would largely eliminate problems of lost, canceled, or stolen checks. Finally, I would be open to any and all software programs that can be used to run an efficient clerk’s office.

What is the most critical issue facing your office?

Jenkins: The budget. Miller County is a 3rd class county which is the lowest class. This means we have a vastly smaller budget than our neighbors in Camden County. In Miller County we have a large network of gravel roads that require constant attention. Finding funding for our infrastructure will continue to be a challenge unless we can get more businesses in the county to create more tax revenue. One thing that I have always wanted to look into is what Miller County can do to make itself more attractive to development in our part of the Lake. An issue that is also unique to the County Clerk of any county is keeping updated on election laws.

Rowden: I have spoken with other office holders on this issue. They believe the most critical issue is updating the technology of the office. It is hard to answer this question without criticizing Clayton Jenkins and this certainly is not intended as a criticism. But since Mr. Jenkins’s unfortunate illness the office has lacked in management and keeping current with advances time saving technology. I intend to make appropriate management and technological decisions while working with other office holders to solve their issues as the chief budget officer. A synergistic relationship between the county offices will ensure an efficient clerk’s office and courthouse for the citizens of Miller County.

Why should voters cast their ballot for you?

Jenkins: I am not a politician. I am here to be a public servant. I know what service and sacrifice mean and that will be applied to the office of Miller County Clerk. I know how to work and have the experience to back me up. I respect Miller County and its citizens. The County Clerk’s door will always be open and everyone gets a voice.

Rowden: The voters have a choice between me and one other candidate. I have a long history of business experience in Miller County and he does not. I have been an active voter in August primary elections and he has not. My opponents father Clayton is retiring from the clerk’s office after 28 years of service. His grandfather served in the same office for nearly 30 years. I am not seeking to be generational family candidate.  I do not wish to be a lifelong politician or remain in an office for 30 years, but I hope to serve as Miller County Clerk to the best of my ability as long as I can be an asset to the citizenry. If elected, I will bring fresh ideas and a culture of dedicated service to the people of Miller County.

Please provide any additional information.

Jenkins: I grew up running up and down the halls of the old courthouse. Being the third generation of my family to hold the office of Miller County is something I have wanted since elementary school. I have a great respect for the people of Miller County and the office of County Clerk. It’s been a pleasure to meet so many good people over the last few months of campaigning. I would appreciate your vote on August 5th.

Rowden: I would be honored to serve the people of Miller County as County Clerk. I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting citizens at their homes door to door, attending community events throughout the county, and talking with local business owners. I have done my best to work the hardest during the campaign to obtain the position, and will bring that work ethic to the Miller County Clerk’s office. I would appreciate your vote on Tuesday, August 5th.