Joseph Daniels Jr.
Leavenworth County Commission, Third District
What are the top three issues facing Leavenworth County, and how would you address them, if elected?
I see the top three issues facing Leavenworth County as follows:
Manage growth. We must maintain the quality of life for Leavenworth County residents while keeping taxes as low as possible. It is imperative, therefore, that we manage residential growth. County government would use tax money more effectively if it promoted growth next to cities in the county, and discouraged high density growth in the countryside where it is hard to provide basic services. Current residents shoulder a large part of the tax and services expense for new development. Developers and new residents should finance new roads, water lines and public sewerage systems. I favor impact fees to provide necessary services to new development in the county.
Increase the tax base. Leavenworth County has a very small tax base. According to the Kansas Association of Counties Research Report, Leavenworth County ranks sixth in population and 85th in mill levy rate, with a mill levy of 32.124, compared to a state average of 49.943. We are comparatively underfunded because there are few businesses to take up the slack in the tax base. I favor improving the road network and increasing public sewerage and public water so that Leavenworth County attracts new business. We need to put our 71,000 residents to work here in Leavenworth County.
Provide good roads. Leavenworth County needs to build and maintain a good road network. We have very few macadam roads in the county. The ones we do have are narrow and do not always provide adequate sight distance for the safety of school buses and other traffic. We do not have convenient access between all major roads, such as between Highway 16 and Highway 92. If elected, I would implement the Leavenworth County Comprehensive Plan, focusing on road improvements. The cost of implementing the plan would be financed by a combination of long-term bonds, benefit district assessments, and an increase in the current mill levy rate.
Do you favor hiring a county administrator for the county?
I favor hiring a county administrator. Leavenworth County has grown to a point where having a professional administrator would be appropriate. A competent administrator would provide vision and a long-range planning focus, consequently benefiting the people of this county. An administrator who is experienced and possesses business acumen would have a positive effect over the long term.
What unique qualifications do you have to handle the job of county commissioner?
I am a lifelong resident of Leavenworth County. I am a graduate of Basehor High School and Kansas State University. I have worked on numerous county boards and committees. I have worked for several Leavenworth County departments, including: the Leavenworth County Health Department, both as a registered sanitarian and as administrative head; the Noxious Weed Department, serving as department head; the Planning Department; and the Board of County Commissioners, serving as secretary. I have authored numerous protocols and codes that are in effect in the county. My understanding of the needs and desires of taxpayers and my first-hand knowledge of the workings of county government make me the most qualified of the candidates to serve as Leavenworth County commissioner.
What steps should be taken to increase cooperation among county commissioners?
In order to be a good team player, a person foremost needs to be committed to the betterment of the county. Even though a commissioner represents the constituents of the district who elected him or her, one should not lose sight of the fact that the county operates as a whole. If he/she keeps this in mind, the Board of Commissioners will not worry about issues involving "turf" or petty jealousies. Cooperation on a board is achieved through good communication. A commissioner should be knowledgeable about the workings of county government, and be able to communicate effectively with other commissioners, county employees, and constituents.
What role should the county play in expanding the area's tax base?
The county already has provided areas for business centers (industrial parks) and helps prospective businesses secure lower interest loans through the Leavenworth Area Development (LAD) organization. We need to encourage and help Leavenworth County businesses to grow. We can also build the infrastructure of roads and public utilities, which businesses need, to encourage more business development.