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City Commission candidates gathered last week for Meet the Candidates – 2013. During this public forum, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and Eudorareporter.com, candidates for seats on the Commission talked about a variety of topics including taxes, economic development and a new City Manager.
“When we brought John in, he brought in professionalism that we hadn’t seen in the City Manager position ever,” Commissioner Tim Reazin said referring to former City Manager John Harrenstein. “What I want to see continue is the ability to manage the budgets. He brought forth the information and communicated with us things we never would have had the opportunity to learn before he was here.”
Candidate Jolene Born also commented on Harrenstein’s accessibility to the public and not only the Commissioners. “He talked to people and answered their questions, he’s not just a behind the desk person.” Born said. “I like a person who doesn’t mind taking time out after hours to meet with people. They should also have some background in public administration, business administration, knowing how to bring business into our community as well as keeping a conservative budget.”
Mayor Scott Hopson echoed the praise for Harrenstein and talked about how he wanted to see his leadership style continue.
“John fit right in from the get go and he was approachable,” Hopson said. “We are a small city but really we are a big town. That’s the way it has worked successfully for the last four years and I think that is what we should look for in the future.”
The candidates were also asked about taxes in the city and what they thought about raising those taxes if necessary.
“I live in the middle class area,” Born said. “I can’t afford a tax increase so that is the last resort for my family and anyone in this community. I’m going to do everything I can to not have that happen.”
Hopson made references to his election four years ago as Mayor and what he set forth at the beginning of his Mayor term.
“When I took over as Mayor, I asked that the city do everything they needed to do with the money they currently had,” Hopson responded. “We had to be more efficient in our city government. We could just not raise taxes to raise them.”
Reazin responded in kind but did make the bolder prediction about any possible further taxation needs.
“We set forth plans for the next 20 years to hopefully not have a burden when something does change,” Reazin said in his response. “I don’t think we are going to need to raise taxes with our budget we have set forth.”
Attracting businesses was another key topic of the forum as business growth helps ease the tax burden on citizens.
“We have made concessions to try to attract people to come to Eudora,” Hopson stated. “The hardest part we are having currently is location. Every business coming in looks at the Nottingham property. For some reason, outside business think that people don’t want to drive very far and people won’t want to drive across town and it is.”
It’s very difficult being a bedroom community to not expect people to stop by the grocery store in the town they work in to pick up whatever groceries,” Reazin said. “I miss our hardware store. I wish we had the opportunity to have Lowe’s pop up in our town to help draw people in.”
“Shop Eudora First was a great marketing strategy,” Born replied. “I see those signs and immediately think that ‘yes’, I need to make sure I’m going to the local businesses and make sure I am supporting our local businesses.”
Born added that by supporting current businesses, it can spur future growth.
“It shows them that we take pride in our businesses here and how we support them,” Born said.
Candidate Jerry Trober was invited to the forum, but stated that he was ill and could not stay for the event. Born, Hopson and Reazin answered questions from Eudorareporter.com Managing Editor John Schulz along with some questions submitted by readers of the site and those in attendance.
Two seats for the Eudora City Commission are up for election on April 2. With the form of government change that passed last year, the Mayor’s position is no longer an elected office and will be appointed by the City Commission from the five sitting Commission members following the election and seating of any new members.