2011 Candidate Questionnaire: Tonganoxie City Council candidate Paula Crook
Editor's note: Candidates for Tonganoxie City Council and Tonganoxie School Board races were sent questionnaires from The MIrror newspaper. This is the response from Tonganoxie City Council candidate and incumbent Paula Crook. She is running for one of two council seats against fellow incumbent Bill Peak and challenger Dennis Bixby.
Family: husband, Robert; son, Ronnie
Current employment: Employed with Leavenworth County Council on Aging for more than eight years.
Past employment history: JC Penney for 15 years
Education: High school
Number of years lived in community: Lived in Tonganoxie entire life
Previous public office held: Four years as Tonganoxie City council member
Community involvement: Four years on city council, volunteer for library to deliver books to home bound senior citizens.
What made you decide to run for office?
I'm running for re-election because I believe in getting involved and taking a role in the community. As a lifetime resident I have a deep commitment to my community.
What special qualifications would you bring to this office?
Four years of experience of being on the City Council. I have been involved with numerous projects. My experience on the council has been very helpful in dealing with subject matters facing the council.
How do you plan to familiarize yourself with the issues that come before the board?
Do my homework. Be informed on every issue before it come to council meetings. Make sure staff is giving me all the information that I need to make a sound decision on any issue that may come to the council.
What leadership qualities do you possess?
Four years on Tonganoxie City Council.
How do you plan to stay in touch with constituents if you are elected?
The city has a web site that gives each council members e-mail address and phone numbers so citizens can communicate to any one of the council members at anytime. I also make a point to get out and visit with citizens on a regular bases. There have been times when issues have come to the council and I have made a point to ask the citizens for their views on these issues. I'm always there for the citizens.
Describe what you see as the main role of a city council member?
I believe a City Council member should be a representative of the citizens and be a good steward of the city’s tax dollars.
What is the city government’s best attribute and why?
The city's best attribute is our great access in the city. Our community is small enough that our fire and police protection can respond quickly.
What are the three most important issues facing the city and how would you confront them?
• The most pressing issue the city faces is budget management during this economic recession. We need to keep making efforts to reduce city spending and still be able to provide the current level of services to the community. We need to make sure that we have a list of top priorities and make sure we're using the money the best we possibly can. Build the city reserve back up.
• The city faces the issue in the police department with the lack of space and security problems. I believe the city needs to explore all of our options. I want the citizens and officers to be safe when they enter the building and I want to find the best solution to fix this issue at the lowest cost and stay within our current budget. I believe we can. This improvement should be at the top of the city’s priority list.
• The city also faces the school bond. If approved by the citizens. The city is looking at road improvements. Public safety is at the top of my list. I would support whatever road improvement that is necessary to make sure that public safety come first. The city has been given a price tag of $4.5 million for 14th street, East Street and an East Street extension. I believe that making improvements on Washington Street (turning lanes, sidewalk) will help with the traffic flow. I also believe the City and school district could form a partnership and go hand and hand with the traffic study to the county and ask what could be done with Washington Street with it being a county road. I would hope that they could share in the cost. This would be the lowest cost to the city at this time. Then the city can phase in the other road improvements at a later time.
Under what circumstance would you favor increasing property taxes or sales taxes?
I'm never in favor for increasing property taxes or sale taxes. I would be in favor only if the citizens voted or approved for such an increase.
How would you increase the city's tax base?
I would recommend the city to continue working with the Chamber of Commerce and LCDC and Tonganoxie Retail Recruitment and Retention committee to promote business to our community. Promoting growth is what going to help us build our tax base. I supported in renewing the revitalization plan that offers rebates on property taxes for improvement to properties in older areas of town and building fee rebate for residential homes.
What can the city do to increase economic development?
I believe the City is trying to increase economic development. I was in support of it. I believe the city's new industrial park south of the city represent a great opportunity for the city. What that property means is businesses that can bring a lot of jobs to the community. The city's industrial park is the only park in Leavenworth County that offers the larger parcels that companies are looking for. I realize with the way the economy is today it is not going to happen over night, but I do believe with diligent preparation and sound decisions when opportunities arise it will serve this community well.
Are you satisfied with the job being performed by the city's professional staff?
Yes, absolutely, But I also believe that we should always strive for improvement.