Mayor, city council filings filling fast
Much like the recent weather, Baldwin City's political climate heated up considerably during the past week. Now there will be a primary election for the mayor's position and it appears a primary may be necessary for the city council positions as well.
As of last week, only Mayor Stan Krysztof had filed for the position. Ken Hayes and George Rebman were the only ones to have filed for council. That all changed late last week and has continued since.
Hayes changed his paperwork at the Douglas County Courthouse Friday and is now running for mayor. Slade Dillon also filed as a mayoral candidate. With three people running for the April election, there will be a primary Feb. 27.
On the council side, Ken Wagner, Todd Cohen and Carol Taul joined Rebman as candidates. Council incumbents Lee Whaley and Eugene Nelson have still not filed, but both are considering running for re-election. There are still other names being bantered around as possibilities as well. All together, a primary is looking more likely.
Complicating the council situation is two of the three positions open are for four years, while the third fills an unexpired term and is only for two years.
But the majority of the interest this past week involves the mayor's position, which Krysztof has held for four years. Hayes decided after lengthy consultation with his "peers" that he should run for mayor instead of the council.
"The reason I changed my mind is we need a change in direction at the top in Baldwin City government," said Hayes, a 1984 Baldwin High School graduate who moved back to town about two years ago. He is 34 and is a co-owner of Cornerstone Construction, a Lawrence-based company that is building the commercial area FireTree Plaza in the FireTree Estates addition.
"I feel like I have a different program to offer than the current administration," Hayes said. "It's my belief that the mayor sets the agenda. Obviously to make changes in the direction this city is headed, you need someone friendly towards your way of thinking in that position. That's why I'm running for mayor."
Dillon, 29, works at Baldwin State Bank and is another BHS graduate (1990). He has similar feelings to Hayes for why he's running.
"It's mainly because I'm going to live here the rest of my life and can't afford to live here," said Dillon. "I could afford the house, but I couldn't afford the taxes."
He said he's also applied for several board positions with the city and hasn't been appointed.
"I don't think they listen to people," said Dillon. "Really, I don't think they want my opinion and that frustrates me because a lot of people share my opinion."
Krysztof, 62, who owns K&K Grinding, doesn't understand why either Hayes or Dillon want to run against him, he said.
"Well, I don't know their reasoning, their agenda for why they want to sit in the big chair," said Krysztof. "I will be out in full force. I will run a positive campaign. I don't like negative campaigns. Here's my record. That's what I'll run on. I don't understand their reasoning."
Krysztof also brought up the subject of debates.
"I've seen a couple of his (Hayes) letters to the editor that say he wants to debate," said Krysztof. "He needs to tell me what he wants. I don't think it (a debate) would accomplish anything. I'm not going to debate if it's a cut throat type atmosphere. I would debate the issues. But what's the criteria?
"If you want some face-to-face debate with bonafide questions from qualified people, I'd do that," he said. "I don't want to debate through the paper. I don't want a 'he said' and 'I said' situation. If they want to set something up in the bonafide debate regimen, I have no problem with that. I have no reason to hide."
As for the council positions, incumbents Whaley and Nelson said Tuesday that they could be filing soon.
"I'm getting closer," said Nelson, who will file by petition. "I haven't finished the process. I'm still working on getting signatures. It's worked very well. I think I have enough signatures today (Tuesday), but I'm looking for extras."
Whaley is still hedging, but is leaning towards filing.
"I would say at this time I probably will run, but I don't know for sure," said Whaley.
Other candidates have various reasons for running for council.
"Baldwin is a wonderful place, but I think it can be better," said Wagner, a part owner of Heritage Tractor. "That's what my candidacy is all about making Baldwin better for everyone.
"My idea is a more community friendly council," he said. "I think the community is ready for a change. There's going to be a lot of interest in this election."
Taul, a long-time Baldwin area resident who works at the Extension office in Lawrence, has a long history of volunteer work, especially in 4-H. Now she wants to expand her interests.
"I'm running because I like to be involved in things," said Taul. "I just want to see what's going on in the community. I have no agenda and no qualms with anyone. We just need someone with common sense to see what's going on."
Deadline for filing for the election is Jan. 23.