Mayoral candidates answer questions from The Signal
The Signal asked the following questions to the four candidates for Baldwin City mayor. Their responses are printed in their entirety, and listed alphabetically by candidate.
The responses to questions asked of City Council and school board candidates will appear in next week's Signal. Council candidates also will appear in a forum beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Baldwin Junior High School auditorium.
Name: Slade Dillon
Address: 815 Monroe
Age: 29 years old
Occupation: Student Loan Officer, Baldwin State Bank
Education: University of Kansas, B.A. Economics
Family: Parents: Thomas & Dianna Dillon, 1178 N. 100 Rd.
1). How do you propose to make a difference leading Baldwin City?
I believe the greatest asset I have for the community is my youth. The community is experiencing the greatest growth in the city's history, and the time has come to pass the torch to the younger generation, for we will have to live with the ramifications of decisions affecting the community. It is easy to make decisions for the moment, but far more difficult to see the long-term results of these actions. I believe I would make no decision in haste, but would thoroughly study and ponder the very serious issues now facing our community, with a concentration on what must happen in the many years to come. I wish to re-emphasize that my door is always open to questions or comments, and I furthermore pledge to keep and open mind to any concern.
2). What issues would you like to see the city address?
Any reader who attended the February 1 forum knows how I feel about power production in downtown Baldwin. This was a wonderful idea when electricity generation was in its infancy, but I am afraid the idea is now a bit stale. I have been advised by several members of the community that the power generators are our greatest asset. They provide us leverage against the corporate producers who could pull our choke chain during peak production periods. I argue that we still have little leverage, as evidenced by the recent allocation of funds to upgrade lines near Winfield, Kan., and separately somewhere in the middle of Arkansas. I'm not sure how much common sense this makes to other readers living in Baldwin City, but again, I am not entrenched in a lifetime love affair with diesel generators. My assertion is that the city has been provided a break for the moment, but the KMEA cities will end up paying the GRDA exactly the price the GRDA originally demanded, only now diffused over ten years, and hidden from the general view. Thank goodness for the FERC! (Are we tired of acronyms yet?) The main focus of the city needs to be reliable water, sewer, roads and protection (police and fire). The city does not try to run the phone line, cable service or gas lines, so why are they insistent on power provisions? Aren't we still on the end of the choke chain?
3). How do you think the city should plan for growth, and how should those plans be funded.
I now realize how incredibly difficult it will be for the city to exit the power business. There are enough contracts and clauses already in place that I would have to complete a law degree to gain a full understanding of our indentured servitude. I would hope that tax abatements are not a main focus of the future leaders of this city. A great many small businesses do not survive five years, so that an abatement on any business is always a questionable endeavor. What is to keep the business around when the abatement expires? Where did these people come from, anyway? The key to guiding the city's growth is a common sense approach favoring established business practices, and allowing the course of economic progress to flow largely unimpeded. If the business is successful, tax revenues will follow. I am not a supply-side advocate. I believe the market will bear only what it can, and any top-heavy development will prove itself such within a few years. Developers will continue to develop as long as the lenders will let it happen. We will see what happens in Baldwin City in the next few years.
4). Do you have any concerns about the city's budget?
It is safe to say that the city shouldn't run out of money anytime soon. How could they? A series of modest increases in the mill does not promote a modest budget in the long run. This is a fantastic community in which to live, but I could not bring myself to recommend it to any of my friends at the moment. There is simply no incentive to come here to live when the first property tax bill brings the familiar tightening about the checkbook. I believe that with the public's money, smaller is almost always better. If the city has a surplus, the definition of this phenomenon is overcharging.
5). How do you think Baldwin City should proceed with the 160 acres south of town it plans to develop into a business and recreation area?
A few days ago I traced old Hwy 56 through Gardner, Olathe, Lenexa and on into the heart of the city. A great deal of the land between Gardner and Lenexa was dedicated to industrial usage. This is no accident. If a business park is to be built, why should we limit its usage to businesses who don't care if they are located on the highway? Again, I'm not sure government's role is to dictate where and how business is to take place, outside of zoning requirements. The natural location for business parks has traditionally been on the highway, and outside of the city joining into the highway building enterprise, I do not feel this to be a prudent course of action. I should note that I was only half joking when I mentioned the acreage would be a good place for a golf course. It would be a wonderful place for a golf course.
6). Why are you running for this position, and what qualifications do you have for the position?
I want to see Baldwin retain its small-town feel, its sense of neighborhood that it has enjoyed as long as I can remember. I have been criticized for wanting to "sell out" the community to KCPL. I simply don't feel that our current means of conducting business with the citizens of the community can continue as it has. I have felt personally alienated by the leadership of the community, and I know many others feel the same way. (Why else are so many people now running for the council seats?) The council needs to understand the real needs of the community, and they must be responsive to the absolute essentials before promoting the auxiliaries. In short, we need to get our house in order before worrying about further annexation, business parks and etc. So far as qualification for the position is concerned, I have no public service history, but I have an open mind to any idea not previously considered, and I am confident I can work between the county, school board, Baker University, the state or whatever entity necessary to ensure the positive progress of the community.
7). I appreciate the support I have received from the community so far in this race. I am happy to be a part of the political process, because forums like the one attended last week by many scores of concerned citizens are the building blocks of democracy. We have the greatest country in the world for this reason. I seek only to help make Baldwin City a first-rate community in which anyone would be proud to matriculate, work, shop, visit or live. Please vote on February 27.
Name: Michael C. Green
Address: Reside at 1412 Maple Leaf Court with my significant other, Nancy Hadley.
Age: 52 years
Education: Attended Washburn University for two years ('67 '68). Attended Kansas State University for two and one half years ('69 '71) where I majored in economics at the undergraduate level and completed one half of the requirements for a master's degree in city planning at the graduate level.
Occupation: Own and operate M.C. Green Construction, Inc., involved in residential design and construction. I have spent 28 years as a homebuilder. Licensed real estate agent in Kansas for ten years, currently working with Stephens Real Estate.
Family: One son, Adam Michael Green, 27 years old.
1). Major issues facing Baldwin City:
Make difference in leading. As a homebuilder, I learned early on that I possessed good design and vision skills, but as a contractor implementing those visions, I was only as good as my subcontractors and suppliers. Since joining our community, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with many citizens who feel strongly about contributing to their community. As your Mayor, the employment of your commitments and visions, backed by the endorsement of the city would be my formula for leadership that makes a difference in the management and development of our city.
2). Issues for council to address:
TOP PRIORITY: The need to restructure electrical department operations to help remove the undue financial strain on the city's budget, as well as, providing financial relief to taxpayers, ratepayers, our school board and our community's university.
TOP PRIORITY: The need for involvement due to the lack of leadership, both philosophically and financially, in providing increased recreational opportunities and facilities to all community and non-community members.
TOP PRIORITY: The need to reverse the idea and direction of the City involving taxpayer's money in the development of an industrial park. If industrial development were a good idea, let private sector investment pay for it and the City would benefit from increased tax revenues without the up front costs.
3). Planning and funding growth:
"Growth" will be at the forefront of ALL of the decisions that will be made in the years to come. Preserving and maintaining the character of Baldwin City as a "neighborhood residential and university community" is the "driving force" behind planning for growth. With a solid infrastructure and a growing residential base in place, commercial investment will follow. Commercial development must be monitored closely in order that it conforms to the "neighborhood nature" of our City. Industrial development must be discouraged, unless it can overwhelmingly demonstrate a benefit that is far greater than the vision and preservation of the City's historic neighborhood character. Most industrial developments will fail this test. Steady, stable growth in residential and commercial investments will insure increases in the revenue base that can grow and maintain our infrastructure. Funding beyond basic city services for new development will be 100% the responsibility of those initiating that development.
4). Concerns about the City's budget:
For the past four years our City's budget has been altered, burdened and manipulated to accommodate deficits of the electrical department brought about by the ill-advised decisions of our council in managing electrical operations. The City has emerged from those financial strains in a "relatively stable condition." To improve that condition, we must adjust our spending in the revenue producing areas of water, wastewater and electrical operations to allow for "positive" fund and reserve account balances at the close of each fiscal year. If this cannot be accomplished, the City must abandon its involvement in these areas. These endeavors exist solely to soften the tax load. They must pay their own way and must never be subsidized by the taxpayer!
5). The industrial park:
FOR THE RECORD: Neither recreation or industrial development would be well served by the location optioned by the Council. Furthermore, these two endeavors are not compatible uses and should not be combined. In my mind, we have a clear and concise need for increased City involvement in recreational opportunities and facilities. On the other hand, we have no need to involve the taxpayers' money into the development of an industrial park. Both these endeavors share several things in common. If they are implemented correctly, they both represent a 3 to 4 million-dollar investment. The benefits of the recreational park would be enjoyed immediately and for all time. The industrial park (if it were successful) would be paid for by the taxpayers today to the benefit of Baldwin taxpayers 15 years from now. Our investment in recreation is consistent with a commitment to preserving and maintaining the community's neighborhood character. An investment in an industrial park is "not" and offers as its main benefit the slim hope of tax relief.
6). Why running and qualifications:
I am running for the position of Mayor because I made a commitment to myself to become more actively involved in the direction of our city. My qualifications include being a good listener and a willingness to invest a lot of energy, two major requirements. My strongest qualifications are that I am a taxpayer and a ratepayer of Baldwin City; and, that others share many of my concerns equally within our community.
7). Additional comments:
As citizens of Baldwin, we have experienced in the past few years the new result of a couple of decades of city management that offered low taxes as the main benefit to the community. Well, as we all know, we certainly do not enjoy that benefit today! We are being forced to deal with circumstances that others before chose to ignore. At the same time, we are trying to provide for a better future than was provided us. That combination of endeavors calls for greater investment and obligation to the citizens of our community. This fact can be accepted by the community only if our future direction is clearly formed and communicated by the governing body; and, that any endeavor is clearly understood by people paying the bills. That must be the responsibility of city management while we restore Baldwin City and build its future.
Name: Kenneth Hayes
Address: 409 11th Street
Age: 34 years old
Occupation: Co-owner of Cornerstone Construction Co. of Lawrence, Inc.
Education: Baldwin High 1984, University of Kansas 1989 BGS Political Science
Family: Wife: Jennifer, Daughter: Abigail
1. How do you propose to make a difference leading Baldwin City?
A fresh direction in leadership to help community relations and foster growth of our community. By growth I mean the development of community assets, parks, recreational facilities, business and housing. I am interested in ways to fund our city while at the same time reducing our large tax burden. Further, as a leader I want to be open to the public for comments and input. I envision a large scale community involvement through communities and task forces to come up with cost effective solutions to our needs. Also communication the other direction by repairing the cities strained relationship with the community and work towards making our city administration open to public input.
2. What issues would you like to see the city address?
Taxation for an opener. We are over taxed and have little to show for it. Utility upgrades and study the feasibility of maintaining or mothballing our power plant. End the southwest industrial/business park and look for a better site for a recreational facility. Internal upgrades for our city, including streetlights, sidewalks, parks and other items that make Baldwin more habitable. Increase our utility services, water pressure, build the water treatment plant and reliable electrical power.
3. How do you think the city should plan for growth, and how should those plans be funded?
First we need a plan for development. A large schematic charting the growth of our city. Once that is done and our utilities are capable of handling further growth then every avenue for funding development should be explored, both governmental and private sector assets should be mobilized.
4. Do you have any concerns about the city's budget? Explain.
Well, quite frankly, I can't figure out where all the money is going. We take in a lot of revenue from several sources. We have been told by the council and mayor the power plant is a money maker. Then why is it that we are always thought to be near broke as a city? I will have a full audit done immediately to see where our cash flow problems exist.
5. How do you think Baldwin City should proceed with the 160 acres south of town it plans to develop into a business and recreation area?
Stop the whole project dead in its tracks. We don't have adequate water, sewer or electrical systems to support the city, let alone this park. It is geographically isolated and will need massive amounts of money in order to build it. Also, the people of Baldwin don't want it, so it should not be pursued.
6. Why are you running for this position, and what qualifications do you have for the position?
I am a concerned citizen who believes strongly in the City of Baldwin. I am a native of the city and will do anything I can to make it more habitable. I moved back here to raise my family so that my daughter can grow up in the small town atmosphere and gain from the experience. As to my qualifications, I operate my own business that does large amounts of cash volume projects. I am not afraid to make hard decisions. I am also open minded and will weigh peoples' opinions in my decisions. As a matter of fact, my primary goal is to get more of the community involved in our city, not to let it be run by a few who turn a deaf ear to what our concerns are.
7. Any additional comments you would like to share?
I would appreciate your vote in the coming election. Being born and raised here, many of the citizens know me from my childhood. For those that don't I encourage you to seek me out and tell me what you think. As mayor my door will always be open, and your input will have value. We need a new direction for Baldwin City in the 21st Century. And it can be accomplished through communication and a willingness to pull together as a community to weather the growing pains.
Name: Stan Krysztof
Address: 721 Lawrence St.
Age: 62 years old
Education: High school
Occupation: Self employed at K & K Grinding & Machine Company, Baldwin
Family: Wife, Barbara; son, Steve, works at K & K and lives outside of Baldwin City; daughter, Debbie and family in California.
I will continue to see the infrastructure completed along with the electrical upgrade that will be completed within two years. The Quad County Water District is being finalized and the Baker Wetlands upgrade will continue as soon as the Corp. of Engineers make their decision. Our grant request for sewer improvements is being considered. It is my desire to see these projects completed.
2). Issues for council to address:
In association with the Recreation Commission, Baldwin School district and Baker University, the City Council needs to address the recreation issue first. The children of this community need ballparks for all sports. We cannot afford to wait any longer to start on this project, which should be completed within five years. Another priority is a business park. In order to bring industrial business to our area, it is best to buy land available now and have the infrastructure ready. The City has been playing catch up with the infrastructure and for obvious reasons it should be in place when a business shows an interest.
3). Planning and funding:
Growth cannot be stopped. The City is planning for it with the upgrade of electrical, water and the expansion of the sewer plant. Electric, water and sewer is funded through Revenue Bonds. Business park funding is a mill increase, with repayment coming form the sale of the property. Recreation park funding should be a city, recreation commission and school levy increase. We are in the process of upgrading our comprehensive plan. A major item of the comprehensive plan is for the Planning Commissions of Baldwin City and Douglas County to work on the process of controlling areas three miles outside our city limits.
4). Concerns about the city budget:
The city budget has had to address the infrastructure neglect. The State and Federal governments had sent mandates on safety which the city had to address. Over the last six years the council has addressed these issues by bringing them up to regulation. As soon as this is accomplished, the budget will decrease and we can plan on future affordability.
5). The industrial park:
At present the council has a 5 to 10 year agenda on the business and recreation park plan. Hopefully, this plan can continue. A recreation park should be in place within 5 years. Business park plans are more 5 to 10 years in accomplishing. Funding on these two projects is the main reason for the time span. Other property was considered for park areas. One, the city could not afford and could not finish it in the 10 years allotted. Other plots were unavailable for purchase. Industrial businesses want something available and the infrastructure in place. Zoning regulations control the location of businesses.
6). Why running and qualifications:
Having served 6 years, (two council and four as Mayor), I believe the city has made major progress in almost every area and I want to see progress continue for a better community.
7). Additional comments:
I would like to thank the people for their support. With their help, I will continue to make Baldwin City a better place to live. We all like to show off our town, not only at the Maple Leaf Festival, but for all visitors during the year. By continuing to work together, we can make our community even better.