Archive for Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Oroke won’t run in ‘08

County official rules out bid to seek re-election

September 26, 2007

Leavenworth County Commissioner Dean Oroke will not seek re-election in 2008.

Oroke, who represents the 3rd District that encompasses the southern third of the county, said he was proud of the commission's accomplishments -- starting the process toward hiring the first-ever Leavenworth County administrator and getting the Kansas Turnpike Authority to construct an interchange at Interstate 70 and County Road 1, among them. But he said those actions came at a toll.

He continues to be criticized by some constituents living on or near County Road 1 who are upset that their rural way of life may give way to development along the road. Plus Oroke's change of heart to not seek a public vote on the county administrator issue has been a lightning rod for criticism.

In addition, Oroke went through a divorce this summer that, at times, turned ugly. One published report that relied on anonymous sources delved into his private life.

"I'll enjoy getting out of the public eye," he said.

Oroke said he looked forward to stepping away from the second-guessing that occurs on many of the commission's decisions.

For instance, he talked about criticism the commission received when it transferred funds from a county sales tax fund to pay for improvements at the Leavenworth County Justice Center. The transfer -- about $2.5 million -- allowed commissioners to keep the mill levy flat for 2008.

"We got a bunch of flak from county residents about playing a shell game with tax money. I thought it was a matter of good management to not have a tax increase ... that it was a matter of good stewardship," he said.

Oroke said there remained unfinished business for him between now and January 2009, when his successor will take office.

"I want to be here when we hire that administrator," he said. "I want that person to be able to go through the budget process with us, so it's imperative that we start pretty quick on hiring an administrator."

Second District Commissioner Clyde Graeber, whose term also expires in 2009, said Tuesday he had not yet reached a decision whether to seek re-election. Commission chairman J.C. Tellefson's 1st District seat is not up for election until 2010.

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