Candidates vie for shot at county commission
For Baldwin City voters, the biggest individual race in the Aug. 1 primary involves two Republican candidates Bob Johnson and Scott Mock who are vying for a shot at replacing 2nd District Douglas County Commissioner Tom Taul, who didn't seek re-election.
Both Johnson and Mock live in rural Baldwin, north of town. Both are seeking public office for the first time. Both want a chance to represent rural Douglas County residents, as well as those in Baldwin and Eudora where the majority of their would-be constituents live. Both see growth in the county as inevitable and that it must be dealt with through proper planning.
That's where the similarities end. Johnson is a retired Chief Executive Officer of a Lawrence insurance firm, who has lived in Douglas County for 32 years. Mock owns and operates a welding and machine shop and has lived in the county for 38 years.
Johnson sees the county's growth as positive and will ease the tax burden eventually.
"Growth will be the issue most discussed, but the real question is not growth, but the management of growth," said Johnson. "Douglas County is blessed in so many ways that growth has become almost inevitable. Providing social services for our growing population and the ever present issue of property taxes will be a struggle.
"How do we keep the lid on the mill levy when the federal and state governments keep shifting costs to local government? More tax dollars will be needed, but those dollars must come from an increasing tax base, not an increasing mill levy," he said. "The county commission should take a leadership role in helping expand our tax base by encouraging the creation of new jobs. The county commission is responsible for spending tax dollars, so the commission should take responsibility for helping to raise those same tax dollars. Good employers and good jobs ease the tax burden on everyone and increase the total tax dollars to meet the responsibility that good government has to the people of the county."
Mock also believes growth is a positive, but he also has additional plans for the county's tax money.
"I really think growth is good. I really wish I had gotten into real estate instead of welding," said Mock. "I don't know how county commissioners can be against growth. If you're going to have growth, you need to have a plan.
"A vote for me will be a vote for the individual. I will not let big business dictate my vote. I'm going to cut spending there won't be anymore new trucks and SUVs for county officials," he said. "I'm not going to let the budget go up. The $1.2 million horse barn (at the Douglas County Fairgrounds) would not have been built if I was on the board."
He also has strong feelings about home businesses.
"I got into this government thing because they tried to come out and shut down my home business," said Mock. "It we stop the entrepreneurs, where do we go? The small business guy is getting lost. Rural Douglas County needs a vote, too. Lawrence has had too much say. I started going to the county commission meetings and saw how things were getting done. It was always on a 2-1 vote, with one of them saying no like should have been done. I'm going to make sure that Douglas County taxpayers get $1.10 for every $1 they spend."
Johnson has seen much change during his time in the county and will base his decisions on what's best for future generations.
"For the past 32 years I have observed a Douglas County that has grown and prospered under the direction of many responsible leaders and the earnest work of many people. We live in a golden age of prosperity in which our county has favorably surpassed many other areas of our state," said Johnson. "With prosperity we now find new challenges to maintain the character of our community for those who follow. I am constantly reminded of our responsibility to future generations by my grandchildren.
"My vision for Douglas County is that it will continue to be a great place for our children and grandchildren to live, work and play," he said. "For this vision to become a reality, we have to protect our environment, improve our schools and find good jobs for our citizens."
The winner of Tuesday's primary will move on to the general election in November and face Eudora Democrat Dan Gregg, who is running unopposed in the primary.