Archive for Wednesday, December 1, 2004

City council members jumping ship

Three school board members say they’ll likely file for re-election

December 1, 2004

It appears that a majority of seats on the Tonganoxie City Council will be up for grabs in upcoming elections.

The three council members whose terms will expire -- Steve Gumm, Emmett Wetta and Kathy Graveman -- said in recent interviews that they do not plan to seek re-election.

However, the three school board members whose seats are up for election say they are leaning heavily toward seeking re-election.

The filing deadline for both city council and Tonganoxie school board is noon Jan. 25. City council candidates can file either at city hall or in the Leavenworth County clerk's office at the courthouse in Leavenworth.

School board candidates can file only at the county clerk's office in Leavenworth.

If the council members follow through on plans to leave office, a majority of the five-member council would be new after the April 5 general election. Carryovers would be Ron Cranor and Velda Roberts -- and Mayor Dave Taylor.

If you want to run for Tonganoxie City Council or the school board, here are some details you'll want to be aware of:

¢ The deadline to file for both is noon Jan. 25.

¢ School board candidates may file by paying a $5 filing fee or by collecting signatures on a petition. Required forms are available at the Leavenworth County clerk's office in the courthouse, 300 Walnut, Leavenworth.

¢ City council candidates may file by paying a $5 filing fee or by collecting signatures on a petition. Filing may be accomplished at the county clerk's office in Leavenworth or at Tonganoxie City Hall. And required forms are available at the county clerk's office or at city hall.

¢ A primary election will be March 1, and the general election will be April 5.

For Steve Gumm, his four years on the city council have been an opportunity to learn more about Tonganoxie.

"It gives you exposure to things that you probably never would have had otherwise," he said.

Primarily, time commitments are preventing him from seeking re-election. He is proud of the progress the city's made in the past four years.

"I think I've helped the community in the fact that I've helped with sewer and water issues," he said. "And I've been someone who's been pretty knowledgeable about the key items that have faced Tonganoxie. We've accomplished the things that I hoped we would."

Six-year veteran Kathy Graveman said she's seen a number of positive moves during her tenure, including adoption of a new comprehensive plan, construction of a new sewage treatment plant, securing a contract for water with the Board of Public Utilities and revitalization of downtown Tonganoxie.

"We've been through a lot in the last six years," she said.

Graveman said any city council candidates should have common sense.

"I've always felt that somebody with a business background has an edge, just because they can see a bigger picture, other than just single issues," she said. "I think you have to be forward-thinking and you have to remember your constituents, too."

From Gumm's perspective, it's important that city council candidates take the broad view.

"It seems that a city council person needs to be in tune to many of the critical issues a growing city such as Tonganoxie faces on a daily basis," he said.

For Emmett Wetta, serving the past four years on the council has, at times, been a struggle. His employment situation has meant that he's had to miss some meetings.

"I feel bad because I do miss some meetings," he said. "I always take care of the family first, and civic duties have to fall in behind that."

Wetta said he's hopeful he can return to working as a volunteer firefighter, and perhaps work with the local police department again. And he certainly recommends serving as a city council member.

"I think everybody ought to have to sit up there on that council bench," he said. "It's a lot easier to sit out there and throw tomatoes over decisions made than have it be your decisions."

He believes that city council candidates should be patient.

"And have good, solid thinking, to look through a problem and not have any bias," Wetta added.

Among the issues that school board members point to as they decide whether to seek re-election is the recent passage of the $25.3 million bond issue that will -- among many other things -- finance construction of a new middle school for Tonganoxie.

"That's one of the main things, is to stay and see that done," Bob DeHoff said of the construction associated with the bond issue.

DeHoff said he's not 100 percent certain he'll run for a third four-year term. But he's sounding like a candidate.

"There's a chance, as long as I keep getting re-elected, that I'll be on for a long time," he said.

Fellow board member Darlyn Hansen said he needs a little more time to mull over whether to seek a second four-year term.

"I've been thinking about it," he said. "I've got to make a decision. I think I'm going to run, but I still need to decide. ... My only issue at this point is the time commitment and whether I have enough time to do a good job."

Kay Smith, who represents the north portion of the district, said she hadn't decided whether to seek re-election to the board. Smith had been appointed to fill the seat vacated by Phil Weide, and then had to run two years ago to retain that seat.

Board members whose terms expire in 2007 are Leana Leslie, Richard Dean, Rick Lamb and Ron Moore.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.