Filings prompt city primary
Tonganoxie will have a new mayor in April and two new city council members.
Mayor John Franiuk decided not to seek re-election. And two incumbent council members -- Cami Zimmerman and Pat Albert -- did not file to run for their seats.
¢ Here are candidates for Tonganoxie mayor and city council, as well as school board:
¢ Mayor: Ron Kampfer, Herb Robbins and David Taylor.
¢ City council: Tammy Bartels, Jonathan Boone, Ron Cranor, Velda Roberts, James Truesdell, Lois Seelbinder and Mike Weston.
¢ School board: Wally Brawner, W. Brian Daily, Richard Dean, April Dohle, Kris Grinter, Rick Lamb, Leana Leslie, Ron Moore, Kay Smith and Joel Stinson.
¢ The registration deadline for the Feb. 25 primary election is Feb. 10. Voter registration is available in Tonganoxie at city hall, the library and at the Leavenworth County Annex, as well as the county clerk's office at the courthouse in Leavenworth. The general election will be held April 1.
The filing deadline for mayor, city council and school board was noon Tuesday.
A total of seven people filed for two city council seats, and three men filed for mayor, forcing a primary election for both council and the mayor's seat, which will be conducted Feb. 25. The primary election will narrow the field of council candidates to four and the field of mayoral candidates to two.
A total of 10 people filed for five seats on the Tonganoxie school board. They include four incumbents. A fifth incumbent, Terri Needham, decided against seeking re-election.
Franiuk waited until Tuesday morning to announce his intention to step down from the mayor's job, after serving one four-year term. He said he's proud of the work he and the city council have done during the past four years.
"I'm very honored to have been elected by the city of Tonganoxie to serve as their leader, their mayor," he said. "I feel very honored by them voting for me and allowing me to serve them. I hope they feel the same way."
Candidates for mayor are Ron Kampfer, Herb Robbins and David Taylor. Profiles of Kampfer and Taylor follow. Robbins was not available Tuesday, but a profile of him will appear in an upcoming issue of The Mirror.
Candidates for city council are Tammy Bartels, Jonathan Boone, Ron Cranor, Velda Roberts, James Truesdell, Lois Seelbinder and Mike Weston. Profiles of all candidates but Weston and Boone, who were unavailable Tuesday, follow. A profile of them will appear in an upcoming issue of The Mirror.
Candidates for school board are:
- For position No. 1 (south portion of Tonganoxie city): W. Brian Daily, incumbent Rick Lamb and Joel Stinson. A primary election will be held for this race. A profile of Daily will appear in an upcoming issue of The Mirror.
- For position No. 2 (north portion of the district): April Dohle and incumbent Ron Moore. A profile of Dohle will appear in an upcoming issue of The Mirror.
- For position No. 3 (south portion of district outside of Tonganoxie): Kris Grinter and Leana Leslie. A profile of Leslie will appear in an upcoming issue of The Mirror.
- For position No. 5 (north portion of the district): incumbent Kay Smith.
- For the at-large position (all of district): Wally Brawner and incumbent Richard Dean.
If Ron Kampfer is elected mayor of Tonganoxie, he'd like to shake things up a bit.
High on the list for the 36-year-old welder/pipefitter is the use of city vehicles.
"Why are we paying people mileage to drive out of town with a city vehicle to their homes," Kampfer said. "That's saying they're not living in our city limits, but they're taking a city job. The city people don't like that."
And he believes city employees should live in the city.
"I think that's a plus for anybody, especially heads of departments," he said. "I believe if they're working in this town, they should seriously consider living in this town, as far as safety issues. Probably people really don't realize it. If they're getting a paycheck from the city they really need to commit to the city because the city is committing to them by giving them a vehicle to drive. That's a big issue."
In addition, Kampfer is concerned about the effect of growth on Tonganoxie's water supply and sewage treatment network.
"I want to see growth, I really do," he said. "But I think we're growing too fast to keep up with our water and sewer needs. In a few years, we're going to be in drastic trouble if we don't get something done."
Kampfer lived in Tonganoxie from third grade until he was a junior in high school, when his family moved to Nebraska. After high school graduation, he entered the U.S. Air Force. After leaving the service in 1990, he lived in Edwardsville and worked in Bonner Springs for about 10 years. He moved back to Tonganoxie in 1996, and he's worked for SRH Mechanical Contractors in Lawrence for about three years.
Kampfer recently served for two years on the city's planning and zoning commission, and he was a volunteer firefighter until late last spring.
"I felt it was getting to be too much politics," he said of the department, which was in turmoil at the time. "They weren't doing a lot of things by chain of command, and I was getting news second-hand. I was a lieutenant. I was an officer. I was finding things out second-hand.
"There have been a lot of changes down there recently, and that's a good thing."
He and his wife, Valerie, have no children, although they are area coordinators for a program that brings foreign exchange students to the United States. They currently have a student living with them, and will have another student in their home next school year.
If David Taylor were elected mayor, he'd like to improve city hall's relationship with local business.
"I don't like what's going on with the city and their attitude toward business in the town," the 67-year-old said. "And I think there should be a change. I think everyone who lives in Tonganoxie should do all their shopping in Tonganoxie, if possible. I support all the businesses in Tonganoxie."
He also wants the city and school district to work more closely together. Among school issues that the city should be interested in is busing of students, for safety reasons.
In addition, he has opinions on how school buildings are used.
"The public schools are talking about building another grade school, which I do not oppose," he said. "But I think we ought to look at the way it's being put before the citizens of Tonganoxie. I think there are other alternatives to building a grade school."
Perhaps, he said, a new high school could be constructed and elementary school students moved to the junior high, and junior high students moved to the high school.
He thinks the city should investigate whether a bus system would help the citizenry. He would be interested in bus service both within the city limits and to other cities.
"I feel the residents of Tonganoxie are, more or less, trapped in the city when a person doesn't have a car," he said.
And he wants to ensure the city's police and fire departments are prepared in case of terrorist attacks.
"Just because we're in a small town, that doesn't mean we shouldn't be protected," he said.
Taylor and his wife, Betty, have two children, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. They moved to Tonganoxie in 1985. Taylor, who attended schools in Kansas City, Kan., is a U.S. Army veteran who is a retired union painter.
Tonganoxie City Council
A number of city issues need some attention, according to Tammy Bartels, 31.
"I'd really like to see a little professionalism brought back to the community as it grows," she said. "There's been a lot of bickering, and I think the city government should support the businesses in the community. I'd like to see efforts made for entertaining children."
In fact, Bartels believes the city council and the school board should work together to provide expanded programs through the Tonganoxie Recreation Commission.
"The schools do a good job, but not everyone's into sports or art, and there needs to be something for the other kids to do," said Bartels, who has lived in Tonganoxie for nearly 13 years and is a 1989 graduate of Tonganoxie High School.
Bartels said she's concerned about the impact of growth on the city's water supply.
"We need to make sure we can provide water to all these new homes, as well as the existing ones," she said.
And as budget problems at the state level trickle down to the city, Tonganoxie must ensure it's getting all it can out of city employees, said Bartels, who has worked for the past 18 months as a mental health receptionist at Lansing Correctional Facility.
Bartels has held several volunteer positions with Tonganoxie Elementary School's Parent-Teacher Association. Currently, she is a local vice president, and she is safety and programs chairman for the state PTA.
And she's been active with the Tonganoxie City Fire Department Auxiliary since it was established three years ago. For the past year, she has served as auxiliary president. She also is a Girl Scout leader and is a first-aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation instructor for the American Red Cross.
"I'm very fortunate that my husband's very supportive, and so many of my activities involve my children," said Bartels.
She and her husband, Robert, have two children, Alexandria, 10, and William, 2.
And, someday, she might file for another office.
"I have an interest in politics and would even consider one day running for state Legislature, but you've got to start somewhere," she said.
After a 40-year full-time career in state and county law enforcement, Ron Cranor has decided it's time to focus on the local political scene.
"I feel there are issues that need to be addressed that I don't feel are being appropriately discussed," the 66-year-old Cranor said.
Among topics he would like to focus on is the city's water supply.
"We don't have adequate water, and yet we keep on building," said Cranor. "I understand that situation, and I think somebody needs to re-address that. Until we get water straightened out, I don't know how we can keep on progressing."
Cranor, who has lived in Tonganoxie since 1972, said that until the city can guarantee sufficient water to all residents and businesses, the city's position on growth must be reconsidered.
He, too, is concerned about city employees who don't live in Tonganoxie. And he's bothered that some city employees who live outside of Tonganoxie either drive city vehicles home or receive a stipend for use of their own vehicles.
Cranor said he can bring an analytical view to city government.
"I think there's too much fluff and not enough substance, at times," he said.
Cranor worked for the Kansas Highway Patrol for 31 years, and retired in 1990 at the rank of major. He immediately joined the Leavenworth County sheriff's department, where he served as undersheriff until April 1999. About two years later, he began work part time as a security officer at the Leavenworth County Justice Center.
He also is a driving instructor of the American Association of Retired Persons. He is a member of the American Legion, as well as the local Henri Masonic Lodge No. 190 and the Scottish Rites.
Cranor and his wife, Barbara, have two children and three grandchildren.
Although Cranor has opinions about some issues, he said he would represent the majority of Tonganoxie residents, if elected.
"I feel like I now what's right, but if the majority of people say we want to go into debt for the rest of our lives, I'll vote to put them in debt," he said.
In the past two to three years, Velda Roberts has only missed attending a handful of Tonganoxie City Council meetings.
And Roberts, 66, isn't even a council member, although she is seeking a seat on the board.
"I've always been active in the community, and I think part of being a good citizen is being well-informed," she said. "I do hope I'll b able to share information that's going to affect our future in a manner that more people will become interested and, subsequently, become more involved."
Roberts is concerned that not enough information is flowing out of city government -- both from the council and staff members.
She said numerous issues must be addressed.
"Those include water, taxes, promotion of our community, business development, and roads, highways and our representation with the county," she said.
Roberts has been a member of the city's tree board for nearly four years and has served as its chairman for three years. She and her husband, Herbert, have a grown son.
Roberts has been involved in many local and state banking professional organizations, as well as a state trust association.
Before moving to Tonganoxie in October 1995, the native Kansan had lived for 16 years in Seward, Neb. Before retirement, she worked as the head of a bank trust department and a bank director, as well as a legal secretary.
Lois Seelbinder says she will be a trustworthy decision-maker about use of the public's money.
Seelbinder worked as secretary-treasurer at Floyd Robinson Construction Company in Kansas City, Kan. So she knows the value of a dollar.
"I'm interested in fiscal responsibility," the 76-year-old said. "It's the taxpayers' money. I'm interested in them getting the services they're paying for at the most economical price."
She moved to the Tonganoxie area in 1959, and lived in the country until about a year ago, when she and her husband, Ed, moved into the city.
"I have always been interested in what's going on in Tonganoxie," she said. "After all, it does affect the people who live out in the country."
She had toyed with the idea of seeking a seat on the council for some time.
"You're supposed to participate in the government, and you're supposed to donate your time, so I decided I would go ahead and run," she said.
She is a member of Chapter AT of PEO and of Tonganoxie Christian Church. The Seelbinders have a daughter and two grandchildren.
Although he says he has no agenda, James Truesdell says he has experience that could benefit the city of Tonganoxie. And that's one reason he's running for office.
"One big reason is I saw there was a need," said Truesdell, who has lived here about three years. "It didn't seem like people were stepping forward and running. I feel like I have some qualities that I could offer the city council. I have some experience analyzing data and doing life-cycle cost studies. I'm a good listener to people's concerns."
Truesdell, a structural engineer who is bridge project manager for HNTB Corporation in Kansas City, also has experience working on construction budgets.
"I understand budgets, and I understand staying within budgets," the 49-year-old said.
He also worked for the Kansas Department of Transportation in the Bureau of Local Projects.
"In that work, I was exposed to some of the budget issues facing cities and counties," he said.
Truesdell grew up in the Kansas City, Kan. He and his family moved to Tonganoxie about three years ago. He and his wife, Diane, have three children, ages 7, 9 and 14.
Position No. 1
Rick Lamb, 49, is seeking his second four-year term on the school board because he believes the Tonganoxie school district is facing some very important issues.
"I would like to see those issues through," said Lamb, who is pastor at Tonganoxie's West Haven Baptist Church. "It takes a little while to get up to speed on the board."
Lamb, who has lived in Tonganoxie for nearly 10 years, said that among those issues is whether the district should hold a bond issue election to finance new buildings.
"There's the question of whether to build," Lamb said. "There are a lot of things that need to be addressed. We have to be patient and thorough and try our best to look at the future and see where the community is going and try to prepare for it."
Lamb is married with two grown children. His wife, Becky, is a classroom teacher at Tonganoxie Elementary School.
It's really children that prompted Joel Stinson to run for Tonganoxie school board.
"I have three girls, and there are a lot of things I want to do for their future," the 39-year-old said. "Education is extremely important, and I want to play an active role."
Stinson, who has lived in Tonganoxie for nine years, is director of distribution services at Allen Press in Lawrence. He and his wife, Berniece, a paraprofessional at Tonganoxie Elementary School, have three daughters, ages 8, 10 and 16.
"I'm concerned about the way monies are spent," said Stinson, who grew up in Lawrence. "And I would like to have a voice in how they are spent and maybe spend them more effectively."
If possible, he would like to strengthen the district's curriculum.
During his spare time, Stinson is active in his children's sporting and school-related activities.
Position No. 2
Although Ron Moore contemplated leaving the school board, the 54-year-old decided he should step up to the plate again. Moore is completing his second four-year term on the board.
"I was not aware of anyone else who is showing any interest in the position," said Moore, who is assistant vice president for Employers Reinsurance Corporation in Overland Park. "Primarily, I'm running to provide some continuity on the board for some plans we have going forward. We have hired the DLR Group and we're in the middle of that project and we need to see it to fruition -- whatever that will be."
The DLR Group of architects from Overland Park is studying the school district's buildings and how they are used.
It is expected DLR will advise the school board on to ask district voters whether to approve a bond issue for any improvements.
In addition, Moore is concerned about the fiscal health of the school district, given the state's money crunch.
"We're not really sure what the outcome of school funding will be," Moore said. "But it could be a very difficult year."
Moore has lived in Leavenworth County for about 30 years. He and his wife, Margie, who is a paraprofessional at Tonganoxie Elementary School, have two grown children.
Position No. 3
Although Kris Grinter and her husband, Ted, haven't always lived in the Tonganoxie school district, they're children have attended Tonganoxie schools.
"My husband grew up going to Tonganoxie, and he was pretty much sure where they were going," the 34-year-old Grinter said.
Grinter, who moved to the Tonganoxie area more than 12 years ago, is an employee on the family farm south of Tonganoxie. She said she decided to run for several reasons.
"I saw a need for people to run, and I've got kids in school, and it was really out of a civic sense of duty," the St. Joseph, Mo., native said.
But she's not enamored with politics.
"As far as the political side, I am not a politician," she said. "My interests probably will be for the kids and the teachers."
Position No. 5
Although Kay Smith has been a member of the Tonganoxie school board for only a couple of months, that was enough to convince her to seek a two-year term on the board.
"They seem to work very well together, and they really do have the best interest of students at heart," said the Leavenworth High School family and consumer science teacher.
Smith, who has taught for 19 years in Basehor, Topeka and Leavenworth, was appointed in October to the board to fill the unexpired term of Phil Weide, who resigned.
She's keenly interested in the issue of whether to build additional classrooms in Tonganoxie.
"As a teacher, I understand the importance of that," the 41-year-old said.
But she also said she would look at the issue as a parent and taxpayer. For example, the 1979 Tonganoxie High School graduate hopes to visit THS when classes are in session to get a first-hand view of how the school operates.
"I don't want my taxes to go up, but the middle school is going to be paid off in 2006, and I don't think it's acceptable that Mrs. Welsh is doing art on a cart," she said.
"And I think it's important to keep those lower level class sizes low. Most schools have gone to an all-day, every-day kindergarten program. And I understand it's money and its facilities, but I think all kids would benefit from that."
Smith and her husband, Doug, have two children, a kindergartner and a seventh-grader, who attend Tonganoxie schools.
She holds a bachelor's degree from Emporia State University and a master's degree from Mid American Nazarene University.
As a retired teacher, Wally Brawner thinks he could add a unique perspective to the Tonganoxie school board.
"I have a little expertise in the field of education, having been in the classroom for 33 years," said Brawner, 63, who taught physical science and math, and coached track and cross country.
He retired nearly nine years ago, after teaching at Coronado Junior High School and Washington High School, both in Kansas City, Kan.
Brawner, who has lived in the Tonganoxie area for about two years, previously lived in Wyandotte County.
He said he has no agenda.
"I know a lot of the good people in the district," he said. "The whole state education department and the state are under a lot of stress now with taxation and finances being what they are now. I think I would be as qualified to know what's going on as anyone around."
Brawner holds a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Kansas and a master's degree in natural science from Pittsburg State University. He and his wife, Vicki, have four grown children.
Richard Dean, a Tonganoxie optometrist, is seeking his third four-year term on the local school board.
The 61-year-old said the existing board has served the district well.
"We have a pretty cohesive board, and we work well together," he said. "We don't always agree, but I think we come to good compromises."
Dean said he decided to run again because he would like to complete some tasks, including the revamping of the district's curriculum.
In addition, the district is exploring whether to add classroom space and whether to construct new buildings.
"I don't have any idea if we're going to build in the next term," he said. "But the architects will survey the community and provide us with an overview of needs. Nobody knows how the growth is going to grow."
Dean and his wife, Martha, have lived in Tonganoxie for 30 years. His five sons graduated from high school here.