Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Mayoral candidates answer questions

March 21, 2001

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: 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.

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