Leavenworth County Commission, Third District
What are the top three issues facing Leavenworth County, and how would you address them, if elected?
The top three problems facing Leavenworth County all revolve around finance. The infrastructure of the county in bad need of repair, our road system was built to handle a rural economy, but our growth is fast making us an urban area. We must find funds to improve roads, repealing the sunset on the sales tax is one avenue that could help, aggressively seeking outside resources such as grants is another. County services such as law enforcement is a great concern. Population increase brings more crime and the property taxes collected from housing cannot cover the cost of providing these services. County services such as the County Infirmary must be self-supporting, revenues streams must be studied and justified and a long-range plan put in place. Finally, the county is a large employer with 300 employees, are we getting what we pay for. The county budget has to become important to our citizens, the commission must lead the way in getting public input. Budget hearings need to be held all over the county so the public can have a say in what the county spends.
Do you favor hiring a county administrator for the county? Explain your answer.
I favor hiring a county administrator. It is a fact that people coming in off the street to take the seats in county government do not have expertise in the field of management, budget necessary to be successful in getting the most value out of the tax dollars they are elected to spend. Commissioners are much better suited to make policy decisions that are in the best interest of the citizens they serve. The increasing size of the county population has put more demands on the services the county provides, making it harder for the commission to have the time to plan for the future. Finally, it is important for the commission to be able to stand as the court of last resort in all employee disputes. A commission making day to day decisions cannot realistically be expected to be a nonbiased arbitrator.
What unique qualifications do you have to handle the job of county commissioner?
I have served in a number of positions, which have helped me to understand how to deal with the problems the county faces. My current service on the Tonganoxie City Council has given me a working knowledge of how to prepare a budget, build a comprehensive plan for future growth, make decisions concerning employee wages and benefits, and to work with other government levels in doing what is best for our city. My service on the board of the Leavenworth Area Development has instilled in me an interest in developing a strong business and industrial community. These groups provide the backbone for the growth of the county by providing the dollars necessary and the common sense of how to spend them.
What steps should be taken to increase cooperation among county commissioners?
I believe that communication is the answer to all problems. Commissioners need to keep each other informed about the projects they are working on, even when they don't agree. I believe that if they went out into the county for input from the community they would become a much more cohesive group which would put an end to the mistrust that has developed.
What role should the county play in expanding the area's tax base?
The county stands in a unique position, it can rely on the assets of the cities within the county to help draw a new investment. The county can partner with, and has, with the Leavenworth County Port Authority to provide tax incentives and actual structures to house new business. The county can be the conduit of industrial revenues bonds, which can bring new business. I believe the county must be involved in expanding the tax base or we cannot do any of the things that are needed to allow Leavenworth County to serve its citizens.