City council candidate: Ken Hayes
Name: Ken Hayes
Family: Daughter. Abby, age 10: son, Luke, age 5.
Current employment: ECKAN East Central Kansas Community Action Agency, Ottawa
Past employment: Cornerstone Const. Co. Lawrence
Education: Bachelor’s degree Kansas University 1989 in history, master’s degree Baker University 2006 in history.
Number of years in community: 30 years.
Previous public offices: Mayor of Baldwin 2001-2005.
What made you decide to run for office?
My decision to run was that our city is facing several major issues concerning taxation, livability and planning for the future. I feel from my experience on the council previously that I can help with these decisions.
What special qualifications would you bring to this office?
Previous experience, ability to make informed decisions, and my desire for the community my children are growing up in to remain a vibrant, unique and enjoyable place for there childhood.
How do you plan to familiarize yourself with the issues that come before the council?
From city staff, my connections in the community, and my own investigation of issues.
What leadership qualities do you possess?
Previous mayor, owned my own business for 15 years, my employment currently is management level with stresses on human interaction and helping the disadvantaged.
How do you plan stay in touch with constituents if you are elected?
Open access policy via either email, phone and a friendly knock on my door. When you are in elected office you have to be available to the public no matter what the issue at hand is.
Describe what you see as the main role of a city council member?
City council members are the legislature for the community. They are empowered to make the decisions that affect day-to-day issues of the city and to chart a course for the city into the future. They have to be able to deal with immediate problems and have the vision to look down the road and do the best they can to position the city for the future.
What is city government’s best attribute and why?
City government is to use an analogy where the “rubber hits the road” or the “metal hits the meat.” City government is there every time you turn on the faucet for water, pull out of your driveway onto the road or flip a light switch for power. It has to work every time and be affordable, well maintained and reactive to your needs. From my experience you have to remember every action you take as a council member affects every neighbor, every friend and every adversary you have in the community. The attribute conversely because of this is that you get immediate feedback on decisions made by the council.
What are the three most important issues facing the city and how would you confront them?
The three major issues confronting Baldwin in my opinion are, taxation, economic development/employment and our high cost of utilities. Our taxes are rising while our valuation of property declines. Coupled with nearly zero growth over the past several years we have placed an unbearable level of taxation on our citizens. We are stifling growth in our community due to high costs for fees and permits in our city. A lack of a business park to encourage growth in our city is harming our tax base growth. And finally our utility costs are high for a city of our size.
I would recommend a wage freeze and top to bottom evaluation of all city positions and operations with an eye on cutting budgets where we can to reduce the mill levy and the costs of utilities. I would call for a repeal of the most recent increase of utilities and review our billing system to make it more balanced for our residential, commercial, and educational customers.
Currently we have four businesses in town that are looking for building space to expand operations in the city and increase employment. We have nothing to offer these businesses for location. As we learned at the Feb. 21 council meeting, one of these businesses is looking to move out of town. Our lack of response in this area will cost the city jobs. It is the cities responsibility to care for and encourage business in a community to grow its own tax base, not to smother it with fees, red tape and shutdown its growth.
Under what circumstances would you favor increasing property taxes or sales taxes?
Under no circumstances will I vote for or encourage an increase in taxation. We as a community, a state, a nation have to learn to do more with less, and spend every dollar wisely and cut the fat, and if necessary the muscle out of government in order to remain a viable community.
How would you increase the city’s tax base?
I would work to increase our tax base with a business park to encourage business growth and employment. I would recommend a reduction in the building fees and impact costs to restart the economic engine in our town to encourage growth of our community. We have in the past built our infrastructure to handle a larger city, but we have choked off the affordability of living and operating a business here with high taxation, impact fees and high utility costs.
Are you satisfied with the job being performed by the city’s professional staff?
As for city staff, my satisfaction of their performance would be based on a review of all those positions and performance.