by Valerie Verkamp
Rob Willard and Nancy Armstrong, both Republican candidates, will face off on Tuesday, Aug. 7 to fill the impending vacancy of Platte County Treasurer Bonnie Brown.
Brown, a Democrat who has served the county as treasurer since 2000, will be retiring later this year after serving more than two decades in the banking industry and one decade in the treasurer's office.
No Democrats filed for the position of treasurer, so the Republican primary will in essence decide who gets to fill Brown’s shoes.
Similarly, to Brown's experience, Nancy Armstrong, for many years worked in the banking industry and firmly believes her experience, as well as her education, have prepared her for the treasurer's office.
"I have a sincere desire to serve the citizens of Platte County with honesty, integrity, professionalism, and grace,” said Armstrong.
“I believe it is imperative that we have a qualified person in the office of treasurer. During these times of economic uncertainty coupled with constant changes in the banking industry, the treasurer's office needs the experience of a banking professional who is willing to step up to the plate and face the challenges that lie ahead.”
Armstrong, who is the vice president of Patriots Bank in Parkville, has worked for more than 20 years in financial institutions and has over 19 years experience operating a small business.
Armstrong said that in contrast to her opponent, the “duties performed by the office of treasurer are those that I have spent my entire professional life doing.”
Armstrong earned a bachelor of science in business administration with a major in accounting. Armstrong also graduated from the Missouri Bankers Association's School of Banking, School of Lending, as well as the Graduate School of Lending.
Post graduation, she completed additional courses in financial instrument fraud, preventing identity theft, money laundering, and suspicious activities.
Armstrong was born and raised in St. Joseph. She and her husband, Ron, who is veterinarian and owner of the Platte Woods Animal Hospital in Kansas City, have been married for 34 years and have resided in Platte County for two decades.
Their two sons, Chris and Tyler, graduated from the Platte County R-3 School District, as well as the University of Missouri-Columbia.
“Chris lives with his family in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Tyler is in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia and is engaged to be married to KateLynn Wallingford this fall,” said Armstrong.
Armstrong said she is grandmother “to one very cute little granddaughter, Diana Marie.”
Armstrong is an avid runner, who has twice crossed the finishing line in the Chicago Marathon. She is active in the community and has served on numerous committees for the Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Armstrong is a graduate of the Northland Chamber's Leadership Program and a two time recipient of their "Ambassador of the Year" Award. She also serves as a member of the Missouri Bankers Association and KCI Rotary Club. Armstrong received a "Paul Harris Fellow" Award from the KCI Rotary Club for her contribution and philanthropy.
Her opponent, Rob Willard, says there are several bright-line differences in the role he and his opponent will take if elected county treasurer.
“I believe our approaches to what the position should be…appear to be very different,” said Willard. “I believe that the county treasurer should be an outspoken, aggressive political official and it doesn't sound like from what Mrs. Armstrong is campaigning on that she shares that view.”
“I really believe that this day in age with both the issues that we are seeing with government spending, and the issues that we see with fraud and corruption in the financial sector, that we need somebody to have a different approach to the county treasurer's office. We need somebody that is going to have much more of a prosecutor's eye looking at the county bank accounts.
“I think there was a time in our county's history and our nation's history when we could have someone in the position who just looked at it as an administrative function alone, but we live in a different world. After the great recession, 911, and the financial sector meltdown I think these new times and the new era requires new leadership, and I believe I am that leadership for Platte County.”
Willard also claims to possess stronger conservative values, which he said matter in local government.
Willard said Armstrong has the support of Bonnie Brown, as well as other Democrats, and pointed out that there is a substantial difference between the Republican and Democrat parties.
“So I would say what we believe the role of county treasurer should be, as well as what we believe the roles of conservative values plays in county government, are two big distinctions between Mrs. Armstrong and I.
“We are certainly two very different candidates and I think that gives the voters a very clear choice as to what they want…and I think that is good in a democracy,” said Willard.
For five years, Willard served the citizens of Platte County as an assistant prosecuting attorney. During his tenure, Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd gave him the title of financial crimes prosecutor after Willard prosecuted the first felony identity theft case in Platte County.
Willard says he will continue to be a “watchdog” for the taxpayers of Platte County and will “really take a proactive role” if elected to serve as county treasurer.
“Everybody seems to get excited about what is going on in Washington D.C. and a lot of people seem to get excited about Jefferson City, but people don't seem to pay the same amount of attention and certainly give the same amount of scrutiny to local government,” said Willard.
“I believe that so many decisions in our day-to-day lives really are impacted more at the local level than they are at the national level,” said Willard. “That's why I believe that my time, effort, and my energy is better spent trying to make an impact in Platte City than other places.”
Currently, Willard is an attorney who handles estate planning along with “whatever walks through the door.” Willard resides in southern Platte County with his wife Jeri, who teaches debate and speech at the high school level. They have two young children, including James, 3 years old, and Audrey, four months old.
“It's quite a thing running a campaign when you're literally running around chasing a three year old and changing a four month old’s diaper,” he said.
Willard earned a bachelor of arts from the University of Columbia and a juris doctor degree from the University of Missouri Kansas City in 2003.
This is the second time Willard has run for office. In 2006, he unsuccessfully ran for state representative.