Archive for Wednesday, March 29, 2000

County incumbents seeking re-election

March 29, 2000

Two incumbent county officials last week made it official and filed for re-election.

Linda Scheer, county clerk, and Wayne Eldridge, county commissioner representing the Third District, each had indicated earlier that they would seek re-election.

Eldridge could face opposition in the Democratic primary election from Tonganoxie resident Pat Albert, who serves on the Tonganoxie city council.

Albert, who has indicated he will run against Eldridge, has not filed yet for election. The filing deadline is noon June 12.

The primary election will be conducted on Aug. 8, and the general election is set for Nov. 7.

Eldridge, 62, who is seeking a second four-year term, said he believes commission salaries should be cut from the present level of $37,877. He thinks Leavenworth County commissioners should be paid no more than the $15,017 Douglas County commissioners make.

"I don't think the taxpayers ought to vote for anybody who won't agree to this," he said. "We do not deserve any more than what Douglas County is getting."

If commission salaries were sliced, he said, that would mean the county would be able to hire an administrator to handle the day-to-day operations of government. Leavenworth County voters in fall 1998 rejected the idea of a county administrator by a vote of 7,421 to 5,956.

In addition, Eldridge said he believes the state of the county's road system must be addressed.

"I'd like to get these roads fixed," he said. "It seems like the north end of the county can chip and seal five miles of roads without bringing these roads up to standards."

He said he believes the countywide 1-cent sales tax for the Justice Center should be extended by an additional 20 years to finance road upgrades.

Eldridge, who often is on the losing end of 2-1 county commission votes, continues to be outspoken about what he views as abuses by his fellow commissioners. Last fall, he wrote the Kansas attorney general's office, passing on information that Eldridge believes constitutes violations of the Kansas Open Meetings Law. The attorney general's office forwarded that back to the county level, and Frank Kohl, county attorney, said the allegations would be investigated as part of a larger Kansas Bureau of Investigation probe of the commission.

Scheer, 52, worked in the clerk's office for 10 years before taking the top job in the office. The Leavenworth County Republican Central Committee in 1990 appointed Scheer to fill an unexpired term, then voters elected her to four-year terms in 1992 and 1996.

"I have enjoyed being county clerk and serving the people of Leavenworth County," said Scheer, whose salary is $43,796. "With the help of my staff, I feel the office belongs to the residents of Leavenworth County and we are here to help everyone."

The county clerk's office is responsible for conducting elections and handling voter registration. Scheer has been instrumental in establishing voter registration sites in the county's libraries.

"I don't think there will be any more changes coming in the way of voter registration, advanced balloting," Scheer said. "I think more people will be using the advanced ballots and taking advantage of that."

Elections are only part of the functions of the clerk's office. The seven employees and the clerk are responsible for real estate transfers being entered on the county tax rolls, computing the mill levy, printing tax statements, as well as handling county commission meeting minutes, county employee payroll, accounts receivable and accounts payable for all county departments.

On the horizon in the office, Scheer said, is the possibility that accounts payable could be scanned and then stored on computer rather than in the county vault. The move would cut down on storage, and could improve accessibility to records for county employees.

"That would be a goal of mine," she said. "With the new Justice Center, they're purchasing a new scanner that we would be able to use on our network."

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