When Boone County Commissioner presidential candidate Connie Lepard knocks on doors, she often ends up chatting with residents for a few minutes about life, dogs, travel or whatever after telling them about her campaign.
One of her priorities, if elected, is to get out into the community to discuss issues and get more public input, she said.
Leppard is the Republican running against Democrat Kip Kendrick. Incumbent Democrat Dan Atwill decided not to run again after holding the position for more than a decade. The seat is one of the most important in local politics, as the three-member commission oversees the county’s budget, policies and infrastructure.
Local business owner
Leipard founded his own business, Quality Drywall Construction.
She has owned the business for more than 40 years and said she wants to continue working for the county through an elected position. She built her business from scratch with her husband and said she will bring that same tenacity to her duties as a commissioner.
“Never give up, always work hard for the best interest of your customer, your employees, your suppliers. They’re just multiple stakeholders and you carry that burden of responsibility,” Leppard said.
Notably, she is not a politician, but has served on various local and national boards. She has been a member of the National Association of Women in Construction for years and has held many positions in the organization, including president. There, she said she received extensive legal and fiduciary training and organizational management.
She is also one of two directors for the Central Region of the Builders Association and serves on the Central Missouri Subcontractors Council.
Locally, she serves on the Boone County Children’s Services Council.
“I have a grassroots level understanding that has given me insight into some of the most difficult areas in our county,” Leppard said. “I have a real heart for serving people.”
Priorities and goals
After attending nearly every Boone County Commission meeting this year, Lepard said she has some ideas of where to start if elected.
She said public safety is a major concern because manpower issues have caused a shortage of officers across the county, specifically in the Boone County Public Safety Departments.
Leppard also said it can be difficult to attract new businesses if the workforce lacks skilled workers, and the commission can facilitate conversations and bring business owners and stakeholders to the table.
Cities, counties and the state could better coordinate infrastructure, she said, to save money and be more efficient.
“I have a network of people across the country, not just locally, that I know and can ask for opinions in their areas of expertise, but that’s just part of the industry that I serve every day,” Leppard said.
Bill Watkins, Columbia’s city manager from 2005-2010, said the position of presiding commissioner is primarily an administrative job and Leppard is a great administrator.
Watkins met Leppard when his son married her daughter more than a decade ago and said that ever since he’s known her, he gives 110% to whatever he takes on.
He said her extensive financial experience and success in the construction industry made her well suited for the job.
“She made her way in a male-dominated industry. And she did very well. That, I think, says something about her ability to work with people and get done what she feels needs to get done,” Watkins said.
When Leipard knocks on the door, she and her volunteers can be spotted a mile away in their yellow shirts and leopard print logos. On a clear afternoon recently, Leppard was still going door to door at 5 p.m. after being out most of the day.
She tended to spend a few minutes on people’s doorsteps chatting after doing her campaign.
Eventually, Leppard sat down with one man on his front porch to discuss exactly what the county commissioner’s role is. The two chatted for a few minutes before she moved into the neighboring houses.
Leppard said most of her volunteers are friends and family who help her. Her campaign manager, Dawn Howe, has been close friends with Leppard for 11 years. She said Leipard doesn’t give up once she starts something, and that’s what sets her apart.
I liked that she’s not a politician either, that’s the most important thing, Hugh said. “She really cares about the county and we work day and night.”
Lepard grew up in Columbia most of her life and attended Hickman High School. She claims she cares about the county, not her potential career in politics.
“The only reason I’m running is because I care about what’s going on here in the county. And I have a really good set of skills that will serve the citizens very well,” Leppard said.