One of the stranger phenomenon’s that I have seen in my 2 1/2 years of covering Eudora is going on right now. There seems to be extreme apathy in regards to tomorrow’s election (yes, tomorrow is Election Day!)
For all three previous elections I have covered, voter interest in the candidates was prevalent. People seemed concerned about who the candidates were and interested in their stances on various issues. You would talk to shop keepers in town and their customers were always talking about it. This time around, no one is talking about the election. I lost count of the number of times, when talking to those business owners and various citizens in Eudora, they have said “Oh there’s an election coming up?”
This election is important for the very fact that the members we elect to the School Board and the City Commission will be making a determination on who the future day to day leader of the School District and City staff is. The last time the groups made this decision they both selected good choices in Don Grosdidier and John Harrenstein. Both those groups have had some changeover since those decisions. Now, each body will be finding the replacements for those individuals. If they make the wrong choice, our future could be and likely will be greatly impacted. It is every citizens right and duty to get out and vote for their elected officials.
We want to provide you some links in order to assist citizens in making their choices. You can click on the names below for the candidates that filled out profiles specifically for Eudorareporter.com. All candidates for each body were requested to fill out answers to the exact same questions.
City Council (you will vote for no more than two City Commissioners)
School Board (you will vote for no more than three School Board members)
You can also gain some insight about the candidates from our stories on the Candidate fourm we held a few weeks ago:
Voting Precinct map: If you wish to know what precinct you are in, you can click HERE for a PDF version of the map for Eudora.
North Eudora – Eudora City Hall, 4 E. 7th Street
Central Eudora – Eudora Rec Center, 1638 Elm Street
West Eudora – Eudora Church of Christ, 1530 Winchester Rd.
South Eudora – Eudora Township Fire Station – 310 E. 20th St.
The Polls will be open from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM.
We will have complete results Tuesday evening and have reaction from the candidates following the tally of the votes.
As a rule, we do not endorse any candidate. It should be up to the individual voters to decide who they think is the best to govern their City and School Board. Voters need to be informed and, most importantly, they need to show up to the polls.
In a small municipal election like this, every vote counts. Ask Commissioner John Fiore about that. Fiore gained a seat on the board by a margin of only 13 votes two years ago. In that election, only about 500 voters turned out and that election was highly anticipated. A local election impacts you more than any national or state race by far. These people decide what your property taxes are and handle the chore of deciding what happens in our schools and city regularly. Stand up and be counted. Let your voice be heard.
- John Schulz
The views expressed in this editorial are the views of the Managing Editor only and do no necessarily reflect the views of the staff or advertisers of Eudorareporter.com. Opposing views on this or any editorial are always welcomed.
As most readers of eudorareporter.com know by now, City Administrator John Harrenstein tenured his resignation at the City Commission meeting on Monday night.
While some have said that Harrenstein was bad for this city and “good riddance”, I’m going to beg to differ.
I have spent the last two and half years covering the actions of the City and City Council in depth. I have been extremely fortunate to have access to information provided to the City Council and the inner workings of the city due to my job as reporter and editor. I have also spent an untold number of hours observing Harrenstein and the department heads of our fine city doing the tasks of their jobs. John Harrenstein has been nothing but upfront and professional with me. He has answered every question I have thrown at him that he can legally answer. I have observed him follow through on his duties and seen some him deal with some extraordinary situations. He has handled those with diligence, persistence and excellence. There have been times when he has been criticized for things that were out of his control and he sat there, took it and didn’t pass the buck onto others.
Many people have praised “the city” for cleaning up the water over the last year or so. While the City Council deserves credit for requesting the city do something about it, Harrenstein, along with Public Works Director Mike Hutto, went out and found the solution and did it with minimal costs to the taxpayers. This was a problem that could have been solved years ago and never was by past Councils and administrations. I cannot speak as to why these solutions were never carried out, but the point is that they weren’t. These two gentlemen fixed it.
The financial picture of Eudora was not great when Harrenstein came. Some with credible inside knowledge of the city, described it as “a mess”. With the assistance of wise financial people, he cleaned up the mess and put the city in a position where they have not had to raise tax rates significantly. Bond renegotiations and fund balances are not very sexy in print and we don’t often report on those changes, but they are important to the overall fiscal well being of Eudora. Just this week, the City Commission approved a refunding of the bonds from 2006 that helped build the Rec Center. This refunding will allow the City of Eudora to free up $30,000 a year and save the taxpayers nearly $360,000. Harrenstein and the financial gurus the city works with, just saved us a great deal of money. While the nation has dealt with the worst economy since the Great Depression and governments are drowning in debt and even declaring bankruptcy, the financial wizards on Wall Street think highly of Eudora. For those that are into Bond ratings, Eudora received “AA” interest rates with an “A” rating. “AAA” is the highest (and best) anyone can have. We are sitting in a much better financial position than many other cities and governments mainly because of Harrenstein’s work.
Harrenstein never wanted praise for his actions either. When something was done right or fixed, it was due to the hard work of a staffer or the Council. He never would take credit for the good things he has done.
People may disagree with how he handled some situations. I have not witnessed every conversation or been a fly on the fall for every meeting and in five different places at once (as much as I would love to). What I have witnessed with my own eyes, is that this city is much better off than it was a few years ago and we should thank John Harrenstein for that. He may not have been perfect in every situation, and there may have been times when situations were not handled the best. I can guarantee that everyone reading this article (and it goes for me as well), is as guilty of the same types of mistakes.
The 2013 City Commission is about to be tasked with the most important decision of their political careers: Find a new City Administrator that will meet or exceed the excellent work that John Harrenstein did for Eudora.
Our loss is definitely a gain for North Mankato, MN.
- John Schulz
The views expressed in this editorial are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the staff or advertisers of Eudorareporter.com.
Many of you have wondered why there has not been much news lately on Eudorareporter.com
The answer is quite long and complicated and I won’t try to explain everything here. Suffice to say, we have been working on many things of late that has precluded me from sitting down and writing stories.
I have been working on the server trying to improve the load times of the site. We also had some software upgrades go a bit haywire that took time to fix. On top of that, I’ve been dealing with some family situations which needed my attention and while I love doing this as much as possible, I do have a full time job elsewhere that has kept me particularly busy of late.
We have several stories that we want to get to and will over the next few days and after the holidays. I promise. While some of them may be a bit late, they still are important for people to know about and we will get to them all.
For those that have a little more knowledge of my family situation, I appreciate everyone’s concern, thoughts and prayers of late. It is very comforting to know how much people care. Just another example of why living in a smaller town is so great.
And now….here’s the news.
This November, there will be a question on the ballot asking citizens to approve a change in the form of government from Mayor-Council to Commission Manager.
While we have written stories about this possible change in government in recent months, I still have people come up and ask me “what’s this form of government thing all about?”
The city mailed a letter to all the citizens in Eudora recently that explained many reasons for the change, but we wanted to try to help explain this in a little more plainly.
Q: Why is someone wanting to change the form of government in Eudora?
City Council Answer: In the letter to citizens, the City Council outlined how “it became apparent that a professional management team was needed to administer the affairs of the city government.” Later on they stated how it “will improve the ability of the City Council to work as a policy making team which is crucial for any organization to move forward.”
Editor Answer: The statements by the City Council are true. With that said, from my observations as a reporter covering the City Council for the last two years, this change they wrote about has happened over the course of the last couple of years already. Making the city Commissioner-Manager based by a vote makes it formalized.
The proposed change in government was brought about when the City of Eudora moved from a City of the Third Class to a City of the Second Class in 2010. This reclassification was done because of population growth in the city limits. This was not a change that someone just wanted or thought would “be neat” or “make us more important”, it had to be done according to state law.
Q: What will this change do to our city government?
A: The short answer: hardly anything. The longer answer:
1) We will no longer elect a “Mayor”.
2) Instead of having a City Administrator, we will have a City Manager
3) We will no longer have City Council members, we will have City Commissioners
Q: Why are they getting rid of the Mayor?
A: The city would not be getting rid of the Mayor, citizens just would not elect a mayor by popular vote. A mayor would be appointed from the City Commissioners by the City Commissioners. The mayor in our current form of government, presides over City Council meetings, breaks a tie vote at those council meetings, signs proclamations, attends ribbons cuttings and that’s about it. (Side Note: He can rattle his sabre loudly in an attempt to get something done like cable median barriers on K-10, but he has no official power to get anything done.) The mayor can sit up there on the dais during Council meetings and say whatever he or she wants to say but they have no vote unless there is a tie. A tie vote has occurred once since August 2010. The mayor’s position is 99% ceremonial.
Q: What is the difference between City Administrator and City Manager?
A: In Eudora’s case, not much. It’s a different title but the job functions are similar, and in Eudora’s current form, the Administrator acts as a de facto manager already. He gains no more powers by going from Administrator to Manager. He has the the same purchasing and personnel authorities that he has now.
Q: Wont we have to move to three commissioners instead of the five Council members?
A: No. State law says that a commission is to be three members, but the City Council will pass a charter amendment that will allow them to stay at five commissioners. This has been openly discussed and being planned on if the ballot measure passes. This charter amendment is allowed and has been used in other municipalities before.
Q: Won’t there have to be wards?
A: No. While wards are also part of the Commissioner based system, the Council will also pass a charter amendment so that the five commissioners will all be at-large commissioners instead of breaking the city up into wards. In future Commissioner elections, citizens will continue to be able to vote for the number of open seats on the Commission, just as they vote on the open seats for the Council now.
Statement: Money collected in wards only gets spent in those wards.
Response: There will be no wards. Taxes will not go to certain parts of the city, leaving others out. For the record, there has been never been any City Council member, the Mayor or city staff talk in an open meeting or interview about dividing the town into wards other than to ask the question about whether they had to do so. The answer they received was no.
Q: Won’t we have to vote for all new commissioners in the next election?
A: No. With the charter amendment that sets up five commissioners, we will not have to re-elect all members of the Council. In the current form of government, we would elect the Mayor and two City Council members in the next election. If this change passes, we will only elect the two Commissioners seats up for reelection.
While this change may seen as a major shift in our city government, in reality it is not. When the Council voted to move powers from the Mayor to the City Administrator a few years ago, we basically moved to this form of government at that time. All this does is make it more official.
A good analogy is the couple who have been living together in the same house for 15 years finally going to the justice of the peace to get married. It doesn’t change how the household is being run or anything else. It simply says the courts and government recognize that the couple is now in an official partnership. The form of government has been, in effect, a Commissioner-Manager form for over two years now.
Having followed the process and asking many a questions over the course of the last year and a half, I can confidently say that I support this effort and this will not change the procedures of how the City is run.
The opinions expressed in this editorial are the views of the Managing Editor and not necessarily the opinions of the staff or advertisers of eudorareporter.com.
For the last few weeks, we have been running a poll on our site about who Republicans would vote for in the primary for the 42nd House District and the 3rd Senate District. While our polls are not scientific and are based upon people clicking and voting only, our results in the past have been close to the actual results.
In our poll for the 42nd House District, Representative Connie O’Brien had a 2-1 advantage over challenger Sandra Bohne. O’Brien pulled 58% of the vote while Bohne garnered 27%. There were 13% undecided.
For the House race, local Representative Anthony Brown also garnered 58% while J.C. Tellefson pulled in 32%. There was only 8% in the undecided category.
The only poll that matters, Aug. 7th in the voting booth, will determine the outcome. Polling places open at 7:00AM Tuesday.
(Editor Comment: Typically in a primary election, voter turnout is small. We urge all voters, Democrat, Republican or Independent to exercise their Constitutional right on Tuesday to get out and vote. In smaller elections, 20 to 30 votes can make the difference in the outcome. Your opinion does count.)