The Ford County Board of County Commissioners, elected officials and appointed staff would like to thank the Ford County community for the amazing amount of support during what has become a highly stressful election season that includes a closely competitive gubernatorial race presenting a unique set of challenges.
One of those challenges is a recent court filing requesting a temporary restraining order forcing Ford County Clerk Debbie Cox to open an additional polling location.
This past Thursday night, the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas denied that request. With that decision, the County Clerk is allowed to continue working towards a successful election day preceded by many early voting opportunities that include extended hours.
It is important to note that a federal court filing accompanied by national media attention and the resulting public records requests, emails, interview requests and phone calls can overwhelm and paralyze an agency's day-to-day operations - not including the additional burden of legal fees and the incredible cost to employees in regards to stress.
The financial burden to respond to this filing comes at a great cost to you - the tax payer – and those dollars cannot be recovered through reimbursement. More importantly, the emotional toll is even more significant.
The Ford County Board of County Commissioners, elected officials and county leadership has chosen to remain calm, steadfast and strategic through the recent storm of national media attention, personal attacks, accusations and misinformation.
At times like this, it is better to focus internally and continue to work for the Ford County community. There have been late nights, early mornings and lost opportunities with family and friends and that is because your county work force is comprised of hard-working individuals from our very own community – just like you.
The County understands that voting is a civic duty that citizens take very seriously because voting provides a sense of ownership, belonging and empowerment.
Even before the national media attention, the County was in conversation with community partners to ensure that the temporary polling location would be accessible through public transportation, provided in a facility that is designed for large crowds, ADA compliant and staffed with professionals trained in working with the general public. There have been many press releases, flyers, emails, alerts and conversations throughout the Ford County community notifying the citizens of door-to-door transportation in order to exercise your right and duty to have a voice in this election.
The City of Dodge City will provide buses and vans for the door-to-door pickups and USD 443 is providing buses to pick people up at the Civic Center to transport them to the Expo Center to make sure each voter has the opportunity to be heard.
It is incredibly humbling to see how the community of Ford County has come together in support of voter's rights. The ultimate goal is to make sure each one of you has a safe and comfortable experience at the polls and that does take a lot of effort, experience and teamwork that is not always captured in the lens of the national media.
We want to make it clear to the Ford County family that we have been busy working hard for you and making sure the services you need are still being provided, our staff has been receiving the support and tools they need to be successful and that each voter can have an opportunity to have a voice.
We do not have a big team, but we have a strong team and we have been quiet for a reason - because we have work to do.
Thank You all for your continued support.
On behalf of the County Commissioners, Elected Officials and Appointed Leadership,
J.D. Gilbert, B.S., M.B.A. County Administrator and Public Information Officer