On Nov. 3, residents of Nodaway County will go to their voting stations to choose the candidates they feel are best for each position. Other than the county sheriff’s race, another contested position is the public administrator.
The public administrator takes care of finances, assets and living situations for people who have been declared incapacitated by a judge. The public administrator only takes care of this if there is no one closer to the individual who is incapacitated that can assist them. Public administrators are also required to see the people under their guardianship at least four times a year.
In Nodaway County, Dee O’Riley and Diane Thomsen are running against one another for that duty. O’Riley has served as city clerk, treasurer and a tax preparer in Hopkins, Missouri, for the past 17 years and will continue to serve as city clerk, treasurer and tax preparer part time if she wins. Thomsen has served as public administrator for Nodaway County for the past 12 years.
O’Riley is running as a Republican and said she believes she will be able to help people because she was recently in a situation where she had to depend on others.
“Recently, I found myself in a position which required me to depend on others for everyday care,” O’Riley said in an email to the Missourian. “From that, I have gained a new perspective and a desire to give back to my community.”
O’Riley has a background in accounting and has had experience in working with clients with financial needs through her work as a tax preparer.
“I have a background in accounting and serving the public. … I will provide an empathetic and caring aspect to the position,” O’Riley said in an email.
Additionally, O’Riley said she is running for more than the job title — she wants to help people when nobody else will.
Thomsen, incumbent, is running as a Democrat and said she has the experience, knowledge, passion and contacts to know how to help people.
Thomsen said people who are under guardianship are more comfortable with the same person.
“It provides continuity in the guardianship role,” Thomsen said. “A lot of people under guardianship don’t like sudden change.”
Thomsen said that in her 12 years as public administrator, she has helped people regain their rights. According to the Division of Senior and Disability Services, the court may take away certain rights from an incapacitated person for their well-being.
“I’ve had some people that have had their voting rights restored to them,” Thomsen said.
Thomsen gave an example of how she has helped someone with financial troubles while she held the public administrator position. She said this person needed financial help because they had 12 credit cards that were used to buy gifts for people; however, these gifts were used to get the receivers’ attention.
“I just want to be able to continue the work that I am doing to help those people,” Thomsen said, “I know some people that are stepping down … from the type of environment they’re in, and I’m hoping that in a year or two I can get their rights restored.”
Thomsen currently has 71 cases. Whoever is elected in November will take these cases on.
Melinda Patton, the Nodaway County clerk, gave details on the requirements for a public administrator and voting in an email.
The public administrator must be a United States citizen for at least one year prior to the election, registered to vote in the county they are running in at the time of filing, resident of the county they are filing in. They must be at least 21 years old, must be capable of obtaining a bond of at least $10,000, must pay taxes. They cannot have been convicted of or pled guilty to a felony and cannot be given the oath of office if delinquent on any candidate committee reports.
In order to vote for public administrator, a person must be registered to vote in Nodaway County and show a form of identification when coming to vote. The date has passed to register to vote in Nodaway County.