Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
With Election Day coming on Tuesday, we want to make sure you have as much knowledge as possible to make an informed decision about the people who will govern your town and run your School District. Below are links to all the profiles that we were provided with. You can click on the picture or the candidate to read the profile.
City Commission Candidates
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Voters will be selecting three candidates for the City Commission.
School Board Candidates
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Voters will be selecting four candidates for the School Board.
Also on the ballot is a question to raise the sales tax.
Shall a retailers’ sales tax in the amount of three-quarters of one percent (0.75%) be levied in the City of Eudora, Kansas, for the purposes of generating revenue needed to provide an effective level of public services within the City, to improve, construct, equip and maintain the public fitness and aquatic facilities including but not limited to sports parks, indoor and outdoor/fitness trails, and to provide funding for other capital expenditures.
A Yes vote authorizes the increase in the sales tax. A No vote does not authorize the increase.
Polls will be open from 7:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. Tuesday.
West Eudora (Precinct 50) will vote at the Eudora Church of Christ – 1530 Winchester Road
North Eudora (Precinct 52) will vote at Eudora City Hall – 4 East 7th Street
South Eudora (Precinct 53) will vote at the Eudora Township Fire Station – 310 East 20th Street
Central Eudora (Precinct 54) will vote at the Eudora Rec Center – 1638 Elm Street
Remember, to vote in the election, you will need to show a picture ID per Kansas law.
We will have complete election coverage Tuesday night after the polls close and the ballots are counted.
Republican Candidate Frank Male
Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
One of the many important races on the November ballot this year is for County Commissioner. In the race for the District 2 Commissioner seat, Republican Frank Male is vying to unseat Democratic incumbent Nancy Thellman.
We wanted to spotlight both of the candidates as we prepare for next weeks election. Both candidates were sent the exact same questions and Mr. Male’s responses are printed below unedited.
Tell us about your background & experience.
I was born & raised in Strongsville Ohio, attended K-State & graduated with a B.S. in Agriculture. My wife Kallie & I have lived South of Eudora for 20 years. We have 4 children, ages 25 -14. All have attended Eudora Schools.
The older 3 children are currently in college, the oldest is a KSU grad. Victoria attends EMS.
I’ve been a partner in Lawrence Landscape for 25 years. When Glen & I started it was basically 2 men & a truck. Now there are 40 of us.
My public service includes two terms on each of the following, Lawrence Douglas County Planning Commission, Lawrence Chamber of Commerce Board, Douglas County Extension Council executive board, and the Lawrence Home Builders Board. Other service includes 4-H, Scouts, and Knights of Columbus, to name a few.
What will you do as a County Commissioner to help bring jobs to Eudora?
I can help by encouraging the county to foster a business friendly environment, streamlining the development process, creating a vo-tech campus in Douglas County, and identifying more sites for business parks.
I’ve already made headway by assisting with the hiring of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce CEO Greg Williams. Greg brings 15 years’ experience leading economic development efforts in Springfield MO. where 4 new business parks were established during his tenure. His focus now is jump starting economic development efforts for Douglas County. I’m anticipating quick success because of his long relationship with the Kansas City Area Development Council. This group helped bring the 1st large business to Eudora’s In-Tech business park 22 years ago.
Many people perceive “Douglas County” as Lawrence. While the majority of the population is Lawrence, how will you work to serve smaller communities such as Eudora, Baldwin City, and Lecompton?
As a member of the Eudora community I understand the challenges facing smaller communities in Douglas County. You’ve touched on two important issues facing us: new primary jobs, and taxes. Primary jobs like those at H P Pelzer and the Berry Plastic warehouse bring fresh dollars to the community. These fresh dollars pay wages & health insurance, and local property taxes for the city and school district.
On the issue of property taxes, businesses (commercial) pay property taxes at twice the rate of homeowners. When we attract new businesses to town, the tax base is expanded, and the property tax demand on residential property owners can be reduced.
During the current calendar year, there have been 2 applications for sand pit operations near Eudora. Both have been in proximity to the Eudora water wells. What is your opinion on sand pit operations near Eudora?
I understand the need for sand for making concrete and asphalt mixes, as well as bedding pipes and granular fill. But that being said, it is critical that the proposed sand pit operation does not threaten the water supply of its neighbors or the city of Eudora. I would be looking to the Eudora Planning Commission for guidance on this issue. From the information I have obtained, I would have voted against the first proposed sand plant near the edge of Eudora. That proposed site had many problems. I find it unfortunate that the Army Corps of Engineers is not renewing permits for sand dredging in the river. It seems that would be the best solution for all involved.
It would be inappropriate for me to express any opinion on an application that may come before me in the future as a County Commissioner. Just like when I was on the Planning Commission, I will make my decisions based upon all of the facts presented and make every effort to be totally objective.
Douglas County is one of the most historic regions of the state. Tell us what your position is on protecting and promoting the historical significance of Douglas County?
I support protecting and promoting the historical significance of Douglas County, but not to the detriment of the fundamental responsibilities of the County. Recently, the Douglas County Commission has budgeted about $250,000 annually to fund Watkins Museum and the various historic societies throughout Douglas County. I believe that amount is sufficient when there are so many competing demands for tax dollars and when property tax payers are struggling to make ends meet. Three years ago the Douglas County mill levy was raised in part to fund Heritage and Cultural preservation projects. With the new revenue from the property tax increase, and the already existing budget for the historical societies, the annual funding has ballooned to almost $600,000 per year! With so many residents in Eudora and throughout Douglas County struggling to pay their property taxes in these tough economic times, this is a luxury we simply cannot afford. In my opinion it is a “want” vs. a “need”. In recent years county employees have gone without base pay increases because of tight budgets, and essential human service agencies have had their budgets frozen, but the County Commission has spent over $1,000,000 on new Heritage and Cultural projects. To me, that sets the wrong priorities and sends the wrong message to the people who are carrying out the essential government tasks,
While you cannot control what cities and school districts charge in property taxes, what is your position on the tax rates in Douglas County?
I cannot predict the future but it would be my desire to hold the line on property taxes. Unlike a sales tax, there is no option on whether to pay property tax or not. If you own or rent a home you are paying property taxes. Increasing property taxes hurts fixed income retirees, people with low incomes, and small business owners the most. It is not fair or responsible to continue to increase the burden on these people, just to that the county can spend tax money on pet projects that are not a core function of county government.
What do you think the most important issue that will face the Douglas County Commission in the next year?
It is my understanding we will be facing a very tough budget year ahead. Real estate valuations may face declines in the 4% range. If that is the case, it will result in a $1,000,000 decline in property tax revenue from current levels. Hard choices will need to be made, and I am prepared to make them. As you know well, in tough economic times you protect the core. Core county services include public health and safety, roads & bridges and other public works projects while maintaining funding for essential human service agencies like Cottonwood, Bert Nash, and the Douglas County Senior Services. Past that, difficult decisions will have to be made regarding the priority for spending, the “needs” and the “wants.” These are just like the difficult decisions that we all have to make in our business or in our family budgets, reassessing spending priorities. I have the experience to set the priorities and make the decisions.
What other issues are important to you that you plan on fighting for or against as a member of the Commission?
The main reason I’m running is to jump start the effort to bring economic development and primary jobs to Douglas County. KU’s Bio Tech Business Center is only a year old and already @ capacity, we need to break ground on phase 2. There is no other county in Kansas that has the potential for Biotech jobs like Douglas County.
Not everyone is college bound or college trained and the simple reality is we need jobs for everyone. This includes skilled factory & warehouse jobs as well as people employed in the trades. Eudora is poised for great things with regards to distribution and manufacturing jobs by taking advantage of the new BNSF Intermodal facility being constructed in Edgerton Ks. This will serve as an international inland port for the central United States and will be a game changer for our regional economy.
What do you see as the biggest difference between you and your opponent?
There are many differences between us, but the two most clear differences involve our priorities for spending tax dollars and our positions regarding the adoption of additions to the county comprehensive plan Horizon 2020.
On the comprehensive plan, divided county commission recently adopted additions that now have opened the door for extensive governmental regulations on how we can use our land in Douglas County. All rural land owners should be concerned that our private property rights may be threatened. Potential regulations include “view sheds” in the county. What is a “view shed”. I’d like to know as well. It is not defined in the new plan that was passed! I will listen to all stake holders before taking action to further regulate private property rights. My decisions will be balanced and objective.
I’ve discussed taxing and spending priorities in other questions, and that is a clear difference in our fundamental approach to the role and scope of local government.
Why should voters vote for you in the election?
Because I am one of you and I would work hard to represent your interests and values. For the past 20 years my wife Kallie & I have raised our 4 children on our farm South of Eudora. I understand and appreciate small town values. I’ve been fortunate to co-own Lawrence Landscape for 25 years, and to own and grow a small business, you need to use common sense, be fiscally responsible, make tough decisions and follow through on your commitments. These are the traits and experience I will bring to the Douglas County Commission, and I would appreciate your vote on or before Tuesday Nov. 6th.
The County Commissioner race, along with national, state and a local ballot issue will be decided on Tuesday November 6. Polls will be open 7AM to 7PM. You can also cast your ballot in advance this week at the Douglas County Courthouse at 11th and Massachusetts in Lawrence between 8AM and 7 PM. Additionally, The County Clerks office will have advance voting available in Eudora this Saturday from 9AM to 3PM at the Eudora Rec Center.
Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
We wrap up our profiles of the candidates for Eudora City Council today. We sent out a questionnaire to all candidates and asked them the exact same questions. Their responses to the questions will be printed verbatim. This is opportunity for you, the reader, to see not only their responses but how they respond. The questions in the survey came from both editorial board decisions and reader input.
Today, we profile incumbent Ruth Hughs.
Ms. Hughs, please tell us about your background.
I moved to Eudora in January 1972 and taught third graders until I retired from full time teaching in May 2004. I currently work part time with USD 491 novice teachers as a district mentor. It has been a privilege to invest in Eudora for 39 years.
What qualifications do you have for a seat on the City Council?
I have served on the Eudora City Council since March 2010 when Mr. Fred Stewart resigned due to health issues.
What do you think is the most important issue that faces the City Council?
We need new businesses to come to Eudora. Currently the homeowners carry the tax burden. More industry and businesses would create a larger tax base and all citizens would enjoy the benefits of lower city taxes.
How would you help improve the city budget?
Our city administrator has worked diligently to create a city budget that is fiscally responsible. It is my responsibility as a member of the city council to make sure that all decisions are prudent and in line with the wishes of the citizens of Eudora. It is critical that our resources are carefully managed to provide for a stable and vibrant future.
Many citizens complain about the water quality in the city. Do you have ideas on how to improve the water conditions?
Water quality has been an ongoing issue since I have lived in Eudora. However, over the years the quality has improved significantly. The city council has invested in a new process that will better control the lime output and hopefully we will taste a difference in our water. Our water is carefully monitored for safety and that is of utmost importance to me as a consumer and council member. Any further significant upgrades will be over 1 million dollars. I question whether the citizens of Eudora can afford these upgrades. People on fixed incomes would find it difficult to pay higher water rates. I will continue to seek better water quality while keeping a close eye on the budgetary constraints.
Many citizens feel taxes and utility costs are high. What are your opinions on taxes and utility costs?
I think our taxes and utilities are high and we must keep actively pursuing ways to decrease the costs. When we attract new businesses our taxes will decrease. Westar just raised our electricity costs by 30%; however, due to the diligence of the council we have been able hold the line at a 1% per kwh raise in the electric costs to the citizens of Eudora. We have been able to do this by cutting 4 employees from the payroll and lowering the operating expenditures by $800,000.
What ideas do you have to increases businesses and jobs in Eudora?
The Eudora Chamber of Commerce and the City of Eudora are diligently working toward the goal of increasing businesses and jobs in Eudora. Currently we are hiring a Director of Economic Development. This individual will work closely with the chamber and the city to market Eudora. The Nottingham property is ready for a buyer and is actively being marketed. It is an exciting time in Eudora and we are poised for organized growth.
What other issues do you feel are important to the City Council?
The nuts and bolts of the city operations must be carefully maintained: our sewers, water safety, streets, and electricity. We have recently started a process of mapping the streets and have designed a plan for organized maintenance. This systematic upkeep is critical to being fiscally responsible.
Eudora needs to have a fully staffed advanced life support ambulance housed in the city. Baldwin has a fulltime ambulance in their city and we deserve the same benefit. Currently the response rate is 13 minutes for an ambulance to come to Eudora; however, it is 3.7 minutes for Baldwin. This is unacceptable. Furthermore, Eudora has a much higher call volume than Baldwin. I am committed to pushing Douglas County to provide the same service to us as they have provided to Baldwin.
Why do you want to sit on the City Council?
I believe Eudora is a wonderful place to stay for a lifetime. We have award-winning schools, a 5 star Nursing Center, an excellent Recreation Center that offers many activities and wellness opportunities, an active Chamber of Commerce, and citizens who love and care about Eudora. I would like to continue to serve the citizens of Eudora as their city council member; helping Eudora continue to grow and thrive is my goal.
Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
Over the coming weeks we plan on bringing you profiles of the candidates for both Eudora City Council and the Eudora School Board. We sent out a questionnaire to all candidates and asked them the exact same questions. Their responses to the questions will be printed verbatim. This is opportunity for you, the reader, to see not only their responses but how they respond. The questions in the survey came from both editorial board decisions and reader input.
The first School Board candidate to profile is Dr. Daniel Dickerson.
Dr. Dickerson, please tell about your background.
I am 46 years old and have lived in Eudora for 10 years. I have been married to Jill Dickerson for 21 years. I have 2 children, Madeline in 11th grade and Camille in 9th grade at Eudora High School. All of my education has been in the public school system. I attended the University of Missouri at Columbia and earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in both biological sciences and psychology. I completed my Doctor for Philosophy in chemistry from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. I received my Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine. My residency training in family medicine was completed at the University of Kansas Medical Center and at Olathe Medical Center. I am a family physician at Eudora Family Care and am associated with Lawrence Memorial Hospital. We are very excited to open our new Eudora facility (Church Street and K-10) on April 15, 2011.
What qualifications do you have for a seat on the School Board?
My leadership positions include Chief of Family Medicine at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and member of the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Medical Executive Committee. I am a clinical instructor for the University of Kansas School of Medicine and was the 2006 winner of the Rainbow Award for excellence in student mentoring. In 2005, I was honored by the American Academy of Family Physicians with the AAFP Foundation Teaching Development Award. I am also a graduate of the American Academy of Family Physicians Leadership Program. I have teaching experience at the university undergraduate, graduate and professional levels. In the past, I taught undergraduate and graduate level anatomy, microbiology, physiology, pathology and biochemistry. Currently, I teach introduction to clinical medicine, clinical family medicine and rural medicine.
What do you think is the most important issue that faces the School Board and how would you help solve that issue?
The most important issue that faces a school board is communication with the community. Communication is a key component to empower all stakeholders in the learning community. Eudora no longer has a newspaper. There is no a common source of information for the community to receive school board information. The school district has a very good website; however, many people in the community do not have internet access. Seeking alternative modes of communication and educating stakeholders as to where information can be accessed should be goals of the School Board. While the information from Eudora schools is readily available on the website, it is common for school board meeting notes to be posted up to two months after the meeting. Currently, a typical posting is a very short synopsis of what was presented during a meeting. Additional information about discussion points and decisions made would be welcomed by constituents. If I am on the board I will facilitate transparent communications with members of our learning community through electronic formats such as e-mail, website and twitter. Hardcopies of information will be provided on request.
The budget situation for the school district is an important topic. What kind of solutions do you have to help solve School District budgetary issues?
The current financial climate and the decline of school funding have led to some of the most difficult decisions that school boards have had to make in decades. Given these funding challenges, school boards will need to find ways to maintain the high standard of education while protecting educational programs and co-curricular activities. All items must be placed on the table for prioritizing. In depth conversations with stakeholders must be part of this process. The district is lean, additional cuts will be very difficult and will require much thoughtfulness. Recruiting and retaining high quality faculty will be critical. Practices such as developing professional learning communities, enhancing the new teacher mentoring program and providing time for teachers to connect with colleagues through distance learning teams are examples of strategies that attract and support high caliber educators at little cost. Educators continue to “do more with less.” Our first priority must be to keep quality teachers in the classrooms.
What ideas to you have to either continue the quality of education or improve it at the schools?
As the parent of two Eudora students, I have a vested interest in the school district’s success. I will assist the Eudora School District as it navigates through the current decline of school funding by explore all options and asking many questions. I will advocate for Eudora students by protecting educational programs while remaining keenly aware of financial constraints. I will do everything possible to maintain and build upon the relevant, rigorous education provided in our schools. US News and World Report listed Eudora as a bronze level school. There was only one school in the state of Kansas at the Silver or Gold Level. To reach the Silver or Gold level, Eudora schools need to offer advance placement courses. A goal of Eudora schools should be to achieve a level of excellence by implementing advance placement programs at the high school level and strengthening the advanced coursework at all grade levels.
What is your position on state financing of School Districts?
An educated society is a strong society. Kansas needs to finance school districts to make the community and state stronger. As a member of the Eudora School Board, I will advocate on behalf of the school district and students. I will actively engage state and national legislators in conversations about student learning and the importance of investing in our youth though education.
What other issues do you feel are important to the school board?
As a family physician for Eudora Family Care, I have the unique opportunity to hear the accolades and concerns that surround Eudora schools from students, staff and community members. We have a tradition of educational excellence in Eudora. Eudora has strong community involvement, wonderful facilities and an outstanding staff. We must work to prepare our students with 21st century skills where students are highly sought after in the job market. This will require professional development that keeps educators informed on best practice instructional strategies that engage our students.
Why do you want to sit on the School Board?
As a physician, I often counsel my school-age patients and their families. This counseling involves all aspects of the child’s health, expectations and goals. I want Eudora students to have every opportunity to succeed at any career path they choose. As a member of the School Board, I will keep student needs a priority as the district considers new policies and programs.
We will be bringing you the responses from all the candidates that have so far chosen to respond over the coming days and weeks leading up to the election. You will have the opportunity to meet the candidates face to face on March 23rd when The Eudora Chamber of Commerce and Eudorareporter.com co-sponsor our “Meet the Candidates” forum. The forum will begin at 6:30PM. For more information about the forum you can click on this link: http://www.eudorareporter.com/eudora-news-meet-the-candidates/. Election day is Tuesday, April 5th.