2011 Candidate Questionnaire: Tonganoxie City Council candidate Dennis Bixby
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 Dennis Bixby. He is running for one of two council seats against incumbents Bill Peak and Paula Crook.
Family: Wife, Denise. Married in 1983. One child, Amanda (1987-2007).
Current employment: Self-employed
Past employment history: Drafting and design and construction project management
Education: Bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from Fort Hays State University, 1983
Number of years lived in community: 16
Previous public offices held: Planning commission and tree board
• Charter member of E.A.S.T. (Entrepreneurs Achieving Success Together) in Tonganoxie
• Testified before the Kansas Legislature 11 times
• Co-authored “Amanda’s Law”, a Kansas law requiring mandatory drug testing after serious or fatality car accidents. 2008
• Organized a city wide clean up in 2010
• Elected as a Leavenworth County and a Second District Republican Delegate, 2010-12
What made you decide to run for office?
I simply got tired of the out of control spending. Many times when the city applies for and is awarded grants, they come with a hook. The hook or catch is that the city then has to match those funds, which we don't have. Later when the grant money dries up we then look for ways to pay for the employees that came with the grant. There simply no such thing as "free money". Tonganoxie has exhausted its cash reserve of more than $400,000 in the last four years. We must remain ready for when crisis or opportunity arises.
What special qualifications would you bring to this office?
I have a background in planning, construction management and am familiar with the political process. My list of activities during the last five years include owner of Bixby Sharpening and Possum Hollow Studio, charter member of E.A.S.T. (Entrepreneurs Achieving Success Together) in Tonganoxie, testified before the Kansas Legislature 11 times, co-authored “Amanda’s Law”, a Kansas law requiring mandatory drug testing after serious or fatality car accidents in 2008, organized a city wide clean up in 2010, elected as a Leavenworth Co. and a Second District Republican Delegate 2010-2012 and served on the Tree Board & Planning Commission.
How do you plan to familiarize yourself with the issues that come before the board?
The week prior to city council meetings, an informational packet on items to be voted on would be delivered to my door. I intend to evaluate staff recommendations plus do additional homework to see what other cities are doing and how this might affect individuals and the city as a whole.
What leadership qualities do you possess?
I have the ability to plan a course of action and to understand the many steps that it takes to achieve the desired effect. I tend to examine a project, look for any pitfalls and do my best to avoid them before entering into it. I realize that if elected, I will only be one of five votes on the council. I would like to believe that each one of us has certain talents and background to make wise choices.
How do you plan to stay in touch with constituents if you are elected?
In person works great but there are simply not enough hours in the day to talk to everyone. Email is great. Phone is OK. I don't text but I do Facebook about important issues that people might find of interest.
Describe what you see as the main role of a city council member? Represent the citizens (even the ones who did not vote for me) and vote to spend their money only when absolutely necessary. To promote the city to potential businesses and future residents.
What is city government's best attribute and why? It's people. Our people have a common sense approach to life. When one person is injured or down, the townspeople come to their aid. When one person excels, everybody celebrates.
What are the three most important issues facing the city and how would you confront them?
The ever changing economy. Just since filing for office, fuel has gone up 38 cents per gallon. That alone will have a huge impact on city revenue and expenses. We must look for other places in the budget to cut or in some cases simply do without.
Unfunded state and federal mandates continue to place burdens on their budgets. I would lobby against these efforts as most of them should not even apply to a city of our size.
Economic development and promoting the city from within and outside our city, county and state.
Under what circumstances would you favor increasing property taxes or sales taxes?
If the people voted that that is what they wanted and had full disclosure on how the money was to be spent and paid back.
How would you increase the city's tax base?
Create and promote a business friendly environment. That will bring jobs. Jobs will bring families. Families will need homes and to buy things. Government should stay out of the way of progress as much as possible.
What can the City do to increase economic development?
We are just far enough from the big city to avoid most of their problems but close enough to travel there easily when we need to. We have a grocery store, city pool, fairgrounds, Annie's Opry and a lumber yard that other nearby communities don’t have. We are also near two major lakes, a state fishing lake and a turnpike entrance. Tonganoxie has a lot to offer, we just need to get the word out even to our own people. We need to convince citizens to shop here instead of the big box stores whenever possible. A single dollar spent here is redistributed an average of 7 times and pays our sales tax which also pays off our pool. The same dollar if spent at Walmart or Home Depot is just gone.
Are you satisfied with the job being performed by the city's professional staff?
I am proud of our city police and fire departments and the job that they do. We should also be proud of our library and the fact that usage is way up in the last few years. Our public works staff does many things that other cities our size and larger would hire out for. No matter how good you are, there is always room for improvement. Communication between departments is a must.