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.