Archive for Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Three vying to two open Baldwin City Council seats

Baldwin City Hall

Baldwin City Hall

March 27, 2013

Christi Darnell

Christi Darnell

Christi Darnell

Q: What prompted you to run for the city council?

Christi Darnell

Occupation: Master’s level clinical social worker

Political experience: First run for political office

Community experience: Former president Baldwin Elementary School’s PTO/CSO, committee member of Harvester’s Back Snack Program to End Hunger in our schools, former president Baker University Sorority House Corporation, member Baker University Sorority Capitol Campaign and Renovation Committee, committee member Baldwin First United Methodist Church, committee member of Baldwin City Recreation Commission, committee member of Black Jack Battlefield, various school district committees, worked Thomas the Tank Engine, volunteer with Baldwin City Community Theatre, volunteer with Baldwin City Children’s Choir, coached Recreation Commission soccer teams, assisted in the development of Topeka’s Discovery Center’s Puzzle Pieces Program, which serves area children on the autism spectrum.

Family: Husband, Hank Darnell, and I met at Baker University and have lived in Baldwin for 10 years. We have two sons, William, 15, and Samuel, 8.

A: I believe the service to others and to community is a great responsibility and privilege. I have lived in Baldwin City for more than 10 years. Since moving to Baldwin City, I have educated myself on the city’s issues. I have worked diligently to develop relationships among local organizations, and I recognize the need for more communication and cooperation between them and want to facilitate this.

Q: What in your background would help you as a council member?

A: I believe my experience and relationships I’ve developed by being active in Baldwin City will help foster cooperation on shared goals and projects. I also have experience with major fundraising campaigns, construction management, grant writing, community organization, mediation/conflict resolution, and training in active listening/consensus building. If elected, I plan to utilize these skills in my role as a city council member.

The above skills will be crucial to my success as a city council member. What will play an equally important role is my belief that anything can be accomplished with a shared vision and a “can-do” attitude. Let me clarify this idea by sharing a story about my grandfather, Tom Irving, a Medal of Freedom winner. In 1946, Tom, employed by the Red Cross, was charged with the task of building a new swimming pool in St. Louis. This was a task fraught with obstacles of funding and support because he also passionately believed in integrating the pool for all children to use. The current pool was a “whites only” pool. Faced with no money to secure the large earth moving equipment to dig the hole for the pool he purchased a few shovels, secured volunteers and dug the pool by hand. The pool opened and all the children were thrilled. If elected, I intend to approach my time on the city council with the same “can-do” attitude.

Q: The council completed a visioning exercise last year that identified as primary goals: Make Baldwin City a destination city, which was defined as a premier bedroom community that people want live in and visit; Support job growth; And invest in the city’s work force and infrastructure to provide a high level of service to residents.

Do you agree with those conclusions?

A: I do. Baldwin City has so much to offer as a destination city with its strong historical, cultural activities, school district and close connection with Baker University. I will be proactive on economic and financial development, and city quality of life.

Q: During the visioning exercise, there was much discussion about a new business park and this year’s budget earmarks money for a feasibility study for such a park. Do you think a new business park is necessary and how much of a priority would you place investing in land and infrastructure for a new park?

A: I am very interested to review the results of a Baldwin City business park feasibility study and would pursue what is in the best interests of the citizens of the city. The best case scenario is a new successful business park that would expand the city’s tax base, increase stability of the local economy, add new rooftops and retain businesses and workers. The worst case scenario is millions of dollars are spent to put in infrastructure and purchase land, and the new park sits empty. The key to getting the best result is researching the feasibility study, looking at all potential scenarios, and encouraging and listening to public opinion.

Kathy Gerstner

Kathy Gerstner

Kathy Gerstner

Q: What prompted you to run for the city council?

A: I feel it is my turn to serve. I have lived here for 16 years and have been very involved in our community. I see many things that we are doing very well. I also see and hear about some things we can do better. I want to use my energy to keep our city moving in the right direction.

Kathy Gerstner

Occupation: Executive director of Baldwin Education Foundation

Political experience: First run for political offic

Community involvement: President of the PTO, volunteering at community events – Maple Leaf, Thomas the Tank Engine, house manager at the Baldwin City Community Theatre summer productions. Member of the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce. Our family attends Annunciation Catholic Church.

Family: Husband, Mike, works in Spring Hill at the AGC glass plant. Our daughter Ellie is a sixth-grader at Baldwin Junior High School. I have three stepkids who graduated from Baldwin High School – Brian, Catherine and Shannon Gerstner.

Q: What in your background would help you as a council member?

A: Working with the Baldwin Education Foundation, I have had the opportunity to meet and connect with many of the people who make Baldwin great. I have very positive relationships with Baker University, the school district, our local businesses, our churches and community civic groups. As we move forward, with ever tightening resources, we are going to have to work together to accomplish and meet the needs of our community. I believe I am in a terrific position to help make that happen.

My educational background will also assist me. I am a graduate from the Kansas University School of Law. I went to William Jewell College for my undergraduate studies.

I have spent many years of my professional life in fundraising and non-profit management. This has included writing successful grant applications and oversight of budgets. Our community needs to explore grant opportunities that might provide funding for larger community needs. I think my experience can help with this.

Q: The council completed a visioning exercise last year that identified as primary goals: Make Baldwin City a destination city, which was defined as a premier bedroom community that people want live in and visit; Support job growth; Invest in the city’s work force and infrastructure to provide a high level of service to residents.

Do you agree with those conclusions?

A: I was excited to read the council’s ideas, and I appreciate the time and effort they put into defining those goals. Now, we all just need to work together to help achieve those goals. I know many people who would love to stop commuting and work in Baldwin. I also believe that inherent in the last goal of providing a high level of service to residents is that it be done in the most efficient way possible. The council needs to continue to review and assess the costs and value of our city services.

Q: During the visioning exercise, there was much discussion about a new business park and the final report earmarks money for a feasibility study for such a park. Do you think a new business park is necessary and how much of a priority would you place investing in land and infrastructure for a new park?

A: I am excited to learn more from the feasibility study. With the opening of intermodal it does seem like there would be opportunities for new development, but it is important to base that decision on facts, not speculation. I will work to place Baldwin in the best possible position to take advantage of these new opportunities as they arise.

Michael Paulick

Michael Paulick

Michael Paulick

Q: What prompted you to run for city council?

A: I have always had an interest in city government and thought with the terms coming up this would be a good time to get involved.

Michael Paulick

Occupation: Parts salesman for Heritage Tractor

Political experience: First time office seeker

Community involvement: Youth soccer and baseball coach

Family: Wife, Tiffany, and son Zane, 9, and Verity, 8

Q: What in your background would help you as a council member?

A: I believe my ability to see both sides of a situation and being open minded. That was as a council member I can make the best choices for the people of Baldwin City.

Q: The council completed a visioning exercise last year that identified as primary goals: Make Baldwin City a destination city, which was defined as a premier bedroom community that people want live in and visit; Support job growth; Invest in the city’s work force and infrastructure to provide a high level of service to residents.

Do you agree with those conclusions?

A: Yes. I believe we have to make Baldwin City as appealing as possible and offer the best we can. You have to invest in things to see a return.

Q: During the visioning exercise, there was much discussion about a new business park and this year’s budget earmarks money for a feasibility study for such a park. Do you think a new business park is necessary and how much of a priority would you place investing in land and infrastructure for a new park?

A: I believe you have to plan for growth and be ready for such things. Planning for the future and development is part of making the city of Baldwin a place where new businesses would like to set up shop and continue the city’s growth. you have to have a plan to make things work. I would lean toward getting the ball rolling on this to see what options we have as a city in developing a new park.

Comments

1776attorney 1 year, 6 months ago

I do not personally know any of the 3 candidates running for the 2 open city council seats, however, I do know enough about them to venture an opinion on who meets the qualifications and will make good representatives of the voters and taxpayers. No candidate is perfect in anyone’s eyes, so I base my recommendations on the candidate’s background, experience and most importantly, my judgment as to their representation of my views and priorities.

While I have no doubt that all these of these candidates are fine people and make very good neighbors and citizens, I will place my recommendation in this city council race with Christi Darnell and Michael Paulick.

Ms. Darnell seems to have good connections to the city through her volunteer work and education at Baker University. She also recognizes the value of the history of this area and the culture. I would hope she would also recognize that many taxpayers are looking for the city to provide quality of life enhancing services and not large expenditures on projects that do not improve our lifestyles and city experiences.

I would pose the question to Ms. Darnell regarding the Visioning Exercise. The Vision Exercise last year was a product “sold” to Baldwin City by a retired western Kansas city official through a private company. It was held in private which may have violated Kansas Sunshine Laws which prohibit discussions of city business by 2 or more elected officials outside of a public forum. Additionally, the topics discussed and approved were never vetted to taxpayers or voters. They were approved in secret and now are mentioned as if there was citywide approval. I would like to know what Ms. Darnell’s opinion is of the focus of that Visioning Experience.

While I would prefer that Mr. Paulick have more experience in business or elected office, I think he will provide good input towards city decisions. I trust he will make his own decisions and not allow the city manager to bully or roll over the top of elected official into voting a particular way. The city manager is an employee, not a decision-maker. He will certainly be able to solicit wise advise from our current mayor.

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1776attorney 1 year, 6 months ago

My question of Mr. Paulick would be in regards to the water agreement signed by the current city council with the city of Lawrence. That new agreement was supposed to reduce the wholesale costs of water and lock those lower rates in for Baldwin City over the long term. The wholesale rates were tied to price increases that Lawrence might make to their residents and other wholesale buyers. In other words, the new lower rates could not be raised on Baldwin City unless and until Lawrence raised water rates on their own city residents and wholesale customers.

After signing this new contract with Lawrence, we now see that Lawrence wants to build a new sewage plant and is requesting water rate increases from their residential users and customers. Did Baldwin City therefore get hoodwinked in this whole water negotiation and do we now face rates higher than what we thought were locked in rates just agreed to last fall?

I will not be recommending Ms. Gerstner for city office. Although I am confident she is a nice person, my decision is based on her relationship with and management of the Baldwin Education Foundation.

The Baldwin Education Foundation was a noble venture initially and had a very valuable contribution to make to the education system in Baldwin City. Currently should any of the reputable charity or foundation rating organizations looking into the BEF, I suspect they would fail the foundation on governance and independence.

The Baldwin Education Foundation has, in fact, become an organization rife with nepotism and cronyism. It now lacks the independence and fair standards to offer grants to deserving teachers based solely on merit or educational value without regards to friendships or pandering.

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1776attorney 1 year, 6 months ago

The board of the BEF is loaded up with insiders and most distressing of all, the superintendent. The BEF should be 100% independent from any school district official, and thus be representing the donors foremost in any grants. How can any teacher feel their grant application will be fairly considered or approved unless they kiss-up to the superintendent or other school officials when these same officials are now making grant decisions?

At one time the mother and wife of a school board member both served on the BEF which is a major conflict of interest.

Other BEF board members include other teachers.

Education Foundations are established to be 100% independent from school districts. They make grants for education related projects with donor funds and therefore have a fiduciary (a legally binding) responsibility to manage their donor monies openly and with their donor’s interests always in mind.

The fact that Ms. Gerstner seems to be blind to these issues at the Baldwin Education Foundation prevents me from offering a recommendation for her candidacy for city council at this time.

All Baldwin City residents should remember to vote, Tuesday, April 2. A few votes can make an election and therefore can affect the wise management of your tax dollars and lifestyle for years to come.

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