Archive for Wednesday, October 22, 2008

2008 Voter’s Guide

Election 2008

Election 2008

October 22, 2008, 12:00 a.m.

Updated: October 28, 2008, 8:49 p.m.

Editor’s note: Candidates running in area races were asked to fill out questionnaires and return them to The Mirror office. Here are their responses:

Leavenworth County Sheriff

DAVE ZOELLNER

Age: 61

Occupation: Leavenworth County Sheriff

Why are you running for sheriff?

While working through the ranks of the sheriff’s office, my goal was to become sheriff some day. I believe I have provided the citizens of this county the best law enforcement possible with the current available resources. I feel that my knowledge and experience as sheriff of this county makes me the most qualified to give the citizens the protection and service they want and deserve. I want to continue helping to make Leavenworth County a safe place to live, not only for my family, but for all residents.

What experience do you have in law enforcement?

I started my law enforcement career in 1968. I have worked in every phase of operations in the sheriff’s office including patrol, dispatch, jail, civil process, investigations, drug enforcement and administration. During the past 34 years, I have been a supervisor and an administrator.

In the capacity of administrator, my duties have included overseeing personnel, managing department operations, preparing multi-million dollar budgets for both the sheriff’s office and jail, and monitoring jail operations.

Areas of the county that are less populated still require law enforcement services. How do you propose to ensure these areas are properly patrolled and protected?

I have established additional patrol districts based on crime trends. I have increased the number of officers on patrol. In addition I have assigned additional officers to the detective division to assist in follow-up investigations.

When I took office, I established the position of public information officer who would serve as a liaison between the sheriff’s office and the media, as well as the citizens.

All of these measures have helped to provide more protection for outlying areas. I will continue to explore other avenues, as needed, to meet the needs of all county residents.

What differentiates you from your opponent?

Unlike my opponent, who was a Leavenworth police officer, I have spent nearly my entire career in the sheriff’s office. I currently serve as sheriff, and manage more than 100 employees.

Unlike my opponent, I have experience in managing a county jail and preparing a multi-million dollar budget.

I am a strong, dedicated leader, who works hard for the citizens of this county.

JAMES DYSON

Age: 59

Occupation: Retired Police Lieutenant, Leavenworth Police Department

Why are you running for sheriff?

Being Sheriff of Leavenworth is a goal I have had for some time. When I started in law enforcement in 1970, my goal was to progress up the ranks to lieutenant. When I achieved that goal in 1981, I set another goal to be a chief of police. Upon retirement from the Leavenworth Police Department in 2002, I accepted the job of chief of the civilian police at Fort Leavenworth. Achieving that goal, I began thinking about running for sheriff. In April 2008, I resigned my position at Fort Leavenworth to run as the Republican candidate for Leavenworth County Sheriff.

What experience do you have in law enforcement?

I retired as a lieutenant after 32 years with Leavenworth police. During this time, I supervised the detective division, drug unit, training division, and community services division. After retirement, I served as chief of police for six years, supervising 24 police officers. Degrees: Regional Center for Criminal Justice, Basic Law Enforcement, Kansas City, Mo., Police Department; Hazardous Devices School, Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Ala,; National Training Center for Polygraph Science, New York City; Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy, 166th Session, Quantico, Va.; Law Enforcement Executive Development Course, Lawrence; Administration of Criminal Justice, Kansas City Kansas Community College; and taken state and federal law enforcement classes.

Areas of the county that are less populated still require law enforcement services. How do you propose to ensure these areas are properly patrolled and protected?

Being a county resident, I know response time is important to all citizens. As an administrator, we have to look at calls for service, where crimes are occurring and time of the day. Patrol areas have to be continually monitored and available assets assigned accordingly. There are many ways to ensure coverage: one example might be to stagger work shifts. By doing so, more officers would be available during peak times. Working with all department employees to come up with solutions is important. I believe deputies, if allowed to address this issue, would come up with a workable solution.

What differentiates you from your opponent?

I won’t micromanage to where deputies became frustrated, afraid to take initiative. This management indicates lack of trust in subordinate officers. Failure to empower subordinates stifles creativity, job knowledge and professional development, which in turn causes seasoned officers to seek employment with other agencies. I’ll be an advocate, not an adversary, of the people under my command. Deputies who work hard and do a good job should be commended and rewarded, even if they might disagree with policies of leadership. Good leaders learn from people who hold different viewpoints, and surround themselves with people who’ll challenge them to excellence, not just maintain the status quo

Leavenworth County Attorney

TODD THOMPSON

Age: 33

Occupation: Attorney

Why are you running for this position?

My family has called Leavenworth home for the past 150 years. I have decided to run for county attorney to make my home a safer place. Crime is too high. While I was able to enact positive change for Leavenworth County's youth, I want to work on making the same changes for the entire county.

What's your top priority for the county if elected?

My top priority is improving the communication between the county attorney's office, the law enforcement, and the community. This communication has been poor, and it's impossible for the law enforcement to continue to develop good cases for the county attorney's office if they aren't informed of what is transpiring with their cases. The community also needs to be informed. Victims must be informed why the county attorney's office is making the decisions they're making. Both the law enforcement and community need to have faith and trust in the county attorney's office. Without the proper communication, the faith and trust fails.

What steps would you take to more effectively combat the county's crime rate and put criminals behind bars?

I will work to combat the county's crime rate by limiting the number of deals the county attorney's office makes with repeat and serious offenders. Too many criminals are being allowed to take lesser punishments and this is making our community unsafe. Further, I will appoint one of the attorneys in the office to oversee that all cases coming in throughout the week get immediate and prompt attention. This attorney will assure that each case receives the necessary attention to best prepare it for trial.

What leadership, administrative, and interpersonal skills do you possess?

I have been the assistant county attorney head of the juvenile division. Not only have I worked with my own staff, but I worked with and created strong relationships with our law enforcement officers. I am endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police Troop 19 and former Police Chief Lee Deohring. I also worked with many other agencies, such as the community corrections and probation departments, SRS, KVC, CASA, and several other organizations to help better the community. I am also on the board and president of the Leavenworth County Bar Association, an organization for local lawyers.

What will you do to keep the community abreast of cases of interest?

I plan to reallocate the existing resources in the office to create a communications liaison. This person will be in charge of ensuring the community knows what the county attorney's office is doing and, in turn, what the community wants and needs from the office. As for the victims, this will require working with the attorneys and staff in the office to ensure this communication is happening. While meeting members of the community, law enforcement and victims, they have told me they are not receiving communication on what is transpiring with their cases. These communication efforts could be improved dramatically.

What is your view on negotiating pleas with criminal defendants?

Negotiating pleas is a necessary evil. While I would like to believe that we could win every case, there are times where it is in the county attorney's office and the community's best interest to negotiate a plea. That being said, I believe that currently too many pleas are being made. While we can't prosecute every case, we need to limit the number of times we allow repeat offenders to plea down their charges. Too many plea agreements present a serious safety issue for the community, and safety needs to be our top priority.

What differentiates you from your opponent?

The status quo seems to be more than acceptable in our county attorney's office. I’m ready to work to create a much needed change in that environment. I see a problem with crime rates in Leavenworth County and want to work to transform our community into the home I remember as a child. I have energy and passion, and most importantly, I have the knowledge, dedication, and support of the people to make this change happen. Our crime rate is going in the wrong direction and I believe our community deserves more than continuing with the status quo.

FRANK E. KOHL

Age: 56

Occupation: County Attorney

Why are you running for this position?

I am running for county attorney to continue to provide experienced, top-quality prosecution for the citizens of Leavenworth County as I have for the past 24 years. Leavenworth County has become more and more a part of the Kansas City metropolitan area and the ease of travel across all parts of the metro area require a prosecutor with the knowledge and skill to prosecute and evaluate all levels and types of criminal activity. I have devoted my life to prosecuting serious criminal cases and to serving the citizens of our county to the best of my ability.

What's your top priority for the county if elected?

It’s important to keep a proper objective approach to evaluating facts and evidence gathered by investigative agencies and making formal decisions on how to properly apply the resources, both in manpower and dollars, to accomplish what each prosecutor is ethically bound to seek, which is justice. My continued goal is, as it has always been, to seek justice in every case for all of the parties involved without bias or prejudice, regardless of the presence of outside pressures or influence. We should all seek to resolve the criminal cases which we present so that the outcome is just and fair.

What steps would you take to more effectively combat the county's crime rate and put criminals behind bars?

Each case presents unique sets of facts and personalities. As a prosecutor, you must be able to make judgments on each case as to what the evidence will prove and what sanctions are available under the law to hold the criminal offender accountable for his/her actions. The state utilizes a sentencing grid, which mandates to the courts what level of punishment is proper for each offense. Not all crimes are punishable by incarceration. As a prosecutor, you need the experience and dispassionate judgment to apply the law to each case and seek incarceration when available and rehabilitation when appropriate. This approach has and will provide a proper deterrent to crime.

What leadership, administrative, and interpersonal skills do you possess?

During my time as Leavenworth County attorney, I have always been able to successfully communicate with the judges and court personnel in our county and with multiple investigative agency administrators at the state and local level. During that tenure, I’ve grown the office from a part-time prosecutor staff of four attorneys to a full-time staff of well-qualified and experienced attorneys and an excellent and well-qualified support staff, while keeping expenditures to a bare minimum. My staff’s implemented one of the first data-driven, paperless systems in the state and has been invited to train other jurisdictions in Kansas and nationally.

What will you do to keep the community abreast of cases of interest?

As each case is filed through the court system, it is assigned to a victim/witness officer with the office that keeps in continual contact with the crime victim to keep them informed as to the status of the case, court dates and procedures and provide them with information on the resources that are available through state and local agencies that can provide aid. At the same time the victim/witness staff provides factual information as it’s available in response to media inquires. Not all information on active cases is available for the release until it’s been presented as evidence in court.

What is your view on negotiating pleas with criminal defendants?

Plea negotiations should only be entered into when they provide a benefit to the victim and the state and still hold the criminal offender accountable for his/her acts. Although it may sound appealing to promote a no-plea-bargaining policy it is also totally unrealistic. Our court system could accommodate about 30 jury trials per year if operating at maximum capacity. Thislevel of trial activity comes with a hefty price tag, which impacts the district court, investigating agencies and the prosecutor’s office, all of which are funded by taxpayers dollars.

Prudent judgment must be made as to which cases can be plea-bargained and which ones must proceed to a trial.

What differentiates you from your opponent?

As a prosecutor, I have tried more than 80 jury trials, including over 20 homicide cases, one of which included a successful murder prosecution where the body of the victim was never recovered. I’ve successfully presented serious non-homicide cases involving, among others, a serial rapist sentenced to 155 years — the longest sentence in Leavenworth County history. I’ve also argued more than 120 appeals before the Kansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals as well as the Federal District Court of Kansas and the Federal 10th Circuit of Appeals. My opponent has tried one jury trial, a misdemeanor case against a defendant who represented himself. He hasn’t prosecuted an adult felony jury trial, and has never briefed nor argued any appellate cases.

Leavenworth County Commission, Dist. 3

PETE HENDERSON

Age: 66

Occupation: Retired auto and home insurance sales manager

Why are you running for the commission seat?

I am running for 3rd District Commissioner to make sure that my 15-year-old granddaughter will have a place where she will want to raise her family 20 years from now. It's about what kind of future we are going to have for our kids and grand kids.

What is your top priority for the county?

My top priority is to bring accountability and transparency back to government. Too many people feel that their voices are not being heard. I would like to have commission meetings held at night so more people could attend. I would also hold monthly town halls in the 3rd District so people could voice their concerns and know that those concerns were addressed.

This area of the state continues to see steady growth. How do you plan to control that growth, or do you envision promoting even more growth? If so, how?

Steady growth that proceeds according to a plan is acceptable. It must sustain itself and not place a burden on existing taxpayers.

What efforts would you make to hold the line on or decrease property taxes, if any?

Holding the line on property taxes will be an immense challenge in the future. Because half of the land in Leavenworth County is owned by federal, state or local government and therefore not subject to taxation, we will need to: 1) maximize other sources of revenue; and 2) further eliminate waste and inefficiency in county services.

What differentiates you from your opponent?

I think the thing that differentiates me from my opponent is that I am running a bi-partisan campaign to elect an advocate for the 3rd District. I have been endorsed by four former candidates for Commissioner: Dave Taylor, Frank Hurla, Bill Merkel and Tony Klamm.

JOHN FLOWER

Age: 62

Occupation: AT&T

Why are you running for the commission seat?

I’m running to make a difference in the prosperity of Leavenworth County citizens. We need to control spending and find new sources of revenue to offset the increases in the cost of county government. In our everyday life to make ends meet, we either cut back our spending or we get a second job to help. In most cases, we have to do both. In government, we too need to work on cutting costs as well as attracting new business to provide new revenue as well as new jobs. I want to represent our citizens in maintaining or making our quality of life better.

What is your top priority for Leavenworth County?

My top priority is to control spending while bringing new good-paying jobs to Leavenworth County. A recent survey demonstrated approximately 60% of the southern county residences work outside the county. We need new jobs in Leavenworth County to help our citizenry as well as relieve the pressure to raise property taxes. I believe my background, experience and education singularly qualifies me to help the County bring those jobs to us. I want to work for the citizens of southern Leavenworth County to help maintain or improve our quality of life and enhance our tax base through intelligent growth.

This area of the state continues to see steady growth. How do you plan to control that growth, or do you envision promoting even more growth? If so, how?

Growth is upon us and we must make sure we insist new developments be of high standards and appropriate for the surrounding area. We must plan on the type of development we want and not be afraid to say, “No,” when it’s not in the best interests of the citizens. The county’s new comprehensive plan is a step forward for the county in designating land use. It is a professional, thoughtful approach to maintaining and developing Leavenworth County. We are blessed with a warm, comfortable rural environment which gives us our character. Consequently, the steps are: plan, think, and honor our character.

What efforts would you make to hold the line on or decrease property taxes, if any?

I will make every effort to continue to control taxes for our citizens. The impact of rising costs on current government services make it imperative to find other resources to assist in paying for the services. This can be accomplished by bringing quality industry to Leavenworth County. However, we must use the concept of “intelligent growth.” This means we plan where growth will take place, where it makes sense to the community and where we have the facilities to provide service, without additional burden on our current resources. It also means we stop or slow urban sprawl.

What differentiates you from your opponent?

My background, experience and education uniquely qualify me to be the next 3rd District County Commissioner. I want the opportunity to serve all of southern Leavenworth County on a full-time basis. I’m dedicated to making our county an even better place to live and work. I have a proven track record through my community service, and my background gives me the experience in every aspect of being a County Commissioner. I know how to manage employees, build budgets and meet those budgets. I will work hard to improve Leavenworth County for every citizen. Plus, I listen to all parties’ positions.

Kansas House, Dist. 42

CONNIE O’BRIEN

Age: 62

Occupation: Substitute teacher and retired.

Should there be a statewide ban on smoking indoor public places, such as restaurants and bars?

No. Most restaurants have non-smoking areas and businesses will do what is best for their business, it's self regulating.

Would you support an increase in the cigarette tax to help pay for health coverage for low-income Kansans?

No. Healthcare is a concern for everyone, but we do not need to raise taxes to address health issues. Raising taxes isn't the fix-all answer for everything.

Where do you think the state budget can be cut?

The state budget is projected to experience a shortfall of 588 million dollars over the next two years. In my district, going door to door, I haven't heard from a single individual who wants higher taxes. Cuts need to be made across the board as the governor has suggested. Legislators will need to look at every department to see where cuts can be made, which programs are essential, and which programs are not working. Until I have the opportunity to personally appraise the different programs I will not venture a guess. Every family knows what it means to live within a budget, and it's high time our government does the same.

Would you support an increase in the age for Kansans to get a driver's license?

Many young teens begin working at 16. Some teens work because they want to and others because they need to. Raising the age limit on drivers license could put an undue burden on families. Legislators would need to be careful before doing this.

Should Lawrence be allowed to keep its same-sex registry without interference from the state?

No. Same-sex registries are contrary to the Kansas Marriage Amendment recently adopted by Kansans.

Do you support Governor Kathleen Sebelius' opposition to the two coal-fired plants in western Kansas?

No. The people of western Kansas, labor organizations like the AFL-CIO, business owners and a majority of our legislators favored the expansion. This expansion would have created high paying jobs, stimulated the economy, secured affordable energy for our future, and created additional revenue for the State, "WITHOUT RAISING OUR TAXES." The new plant would have provided the infrastructure needed for additional wind farms and it was designed to capture CO2 emissions in algae digesters used to produce ethanol and bio-diesel. It's true, we would be exporting energy just like we export wheat, cattle, cars, planes and other products made here in Kansas, but the jobs and the economic stimulus would be in Kansas.

My motto is: "Job Creation, Not Taxation."

TIMOTHY MORAN

Age: 51

Occupation: Operations, Plans, and Programs officer on a local project for a national business and technology solutions corporation.

Should there be a statewide ban on smoking in indoor public places, such as restaurants and bars?

A smoking ban in public places and restaurants, yes, but for the “bar & grills,” after a certain hour when most of the family customers tend to depart and the kitchen shuts down, smoking hours should be considered. Smoking should be allowed in clearly established bars and casinos.

Would you support an increase in the cigarette tax to help pay for health coverage for low-income Kansans?

I do not support any tax increases, even in the sin tax area. Affordable health care is an important issue that needs to be addressed in some fashion, but I do not feel tax increases are the answer.

Would you support an increase in the age for Kansans to get a driver’s license?

Learning permits need to have the current regulations enforced, while a program of progressive lifting of restrictions occur from the time the learning permit is given at 14 to the time the unrestricted license is awarded at 16. I agree with the restricted license prohibiting driving between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and the number of other non-adult passengers in the car until the driver is 18.

Should Lawrence be allowed to keep its same-sex registry without interference from the state?

No, the authority to establishing domestic relationships is and should stay a matter of state law.

Do you support Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ opposition to the two coal-fired plants in western Kansas?

At this time, two coal-fired power plants may not be what Kansas needs. One coal-fired power plant would address current energy needs, allow for the establishment of the needed power transmission grids to be built while a responsible energy policy is developed for Kansas that provides jobs, and economic prosperity for Kansas. Other efficient power sources need to be developed to reduce our dependence on carbon and fossil fuels and preserve our environment. A second plant could be considered following the successful completion of the first power plant as part of a balanced energy plan.

Where do you think the state budget can be cut?

I feel the first thing we need is identifying, and then eliminating duplication and outmoded procedures that divert scarce budget dollars. I have learned working on government and private business projects that in time these develop, and the elimination of them results in an immediate increase in available funds. Even with a favorable economic climate in the state the legislature will clearly face tough decisions to formulate the FY 2010 budget.

Comments

pkien39 5 years, 6 months ago

All of you guys sound great to me, it would be hard to choose.

The easiest one is to vote for Sen. McCain. No way could I vote for a "flake" Obama. He will put our youth in great financal bind.

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