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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Q5: Two running for treasurer

  • Janice Dickson (Republican) and Thomas Koch (Democrat) are running for county treasurer. The election is Nov. 6. The two candidates answered the following questions from the Leavenworth Times.
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  • Janice Dickson (Republican) and Thomas Koch (Democrat) are running for county treasurer. The election is Nov. 6. The two candidates answered the following questions from the Leavenworth Times.
    1. What do you see as the main responsibility of the county treasurer?
    Dickson: The main responsibility of the county treasurer is to serve as an agent for the Department of Revenue in the collection and distribution of tax dollars to all taxing entities within the county as well as acting as the steward of hundreds of county funds for the county.
    Koch: Collecting taxes and fees is the first responsibility. Unless money is collected, there will not be money to pay the bills or to invest, but obviously, paying bills and investing are also very important priorities.
    2. What are the main qualifications you have to be a good treasurer?
    Dickson: In my current position as deputy county clerk, I am responsible for working with the treasurer's office on a daily basis in the balancing of all transactions as well as reconciliation of several bank accounts on a monthly basis, and setting mill levies annually. These duties have given me knowledge of the county's tax structure as well as the county's finances, which is critical to the position of county treasurer.
    Koch: Education and university degrees in math and economics. More than a year of supervisory experience and three years of service on the Leavenworth Water board and leadership positions and service with Kiwanis, Crossroads Youth Center, and the Pine River Food Co-op. I also owned my own self-built business for seven years.
    3. What makes you interested in serving as the county treasurer?
    Dickson: With Janice Young's retirement, the county is losing a 16-year incumbent. It is crucial to elect a person that can provide as smooth of a transition as possible. This position is very specific to county government and the person elected should have knowledge of the collection and distribution of tax dollars, knowledge of all county funds, and knowledge of the operations of the county treasurers office; I am that person.
    Koch: First, let's be honest, because it is a very good paying job, and it has more "normal" hours than my current job. But almost as important, it uses my education and mental abilities more than my current job.
    4. The treasurer oversees vehicle licensing, and that has been a problem around the state with the new system rolled out last year. What can you do, if anything, to make it easier for county citizens?

    Dickson: Unfortunately, that is a state issue, but, I will continue the efforts Janice Young has made in working with the state to resolve the issues and focus on customer service. I will also work to represent the taxpayers in opposing additional fees the state of Kansas is proposing in licensing of vehicles to compensate for the expenses this program has caused the state of Kansas.
    Page 2 of 3 - Koch: The new treasurer will not take office until October of next year. The treasurer has added two staff positions to help. A math major is trained in problem solving and understands computer algorithms, but it seems likely that there will be new problems by October than still dealing with old problems.
    5. The treasurer also oversees collection of property taxes. The county loses a lot of money each year because of a high number of people who have not paid their share. What can you do about that?
    Dickson: Currently, the assistant county counselor works with the treasurer's office in the collection of delinquent taxes, but, I will work to develop a program that will allow taxpayers to pay their real estate taxes on a monthly basis (such as some people do with car insurance), in an effort to alleviate taxpayers having such a high tax burden either semi-annually or annually.
    Koch: The legislature passed SB 207 which allows partial payments and credit card payments. That should help with people who are having trouble paying. As for those who can pay, but do not, the county publishes a very long list. A shorter list chosen at random might be more effective, because if you make the list, people will see it.
    6. What would be your top priority if elected?
    Dickson: My top priority, of course the first year, would be to provide a smooth transition to the public and the employees of the county after the loss of a 16-year incumbent. I will also continue to work with the department of revenue on its new state-mandated program to improve customer service and represent taxpayers on legislation that would impose new licensing fees to compensate for 3M's inability to provide an efficient product.
    Koch: My top priority in any job is to keep the bosses satisfied. As a public employee, my ultimate bosses are the citizens. I work hard to get the job done. Just this Wednesday, I started work at 12:30 and did not finish until 11:15. Long days and late nights are not unusual, and I look for ways to save money.
    7. What difference does party affiliation make in the treasurer race, and do you think the county treasurer should be an elected position or appointed by the county administrator?
    Dickson: The position of county treasurer is an administrative position with duties outlined by state statute. It is not a position that establishes policy, so I would say that party affiliation does not play a role in carrying out the duties of the position, but is important in representing your personal beliefs.
    I also believe that the people should have a choice in who carries out those duties. The position of county treasurer, county clerk, and county register of deeds, should continue to be elected. The election of these positions gives the people the power to place who they want into office, rather than to give ONE person (administrator) or ONE governing board (commissioners) that power. These positions are currently accountable to the public by nature of election and/or re-election and should continue to stay that way.
    Page 3 of 3 - Koch: There's not a Republican way or a Democratic way to do math, or to be a dedicated public servant. Serving the public and saving taxpayers money are matters of integrity that can cross party lines. An appointment may be a way to get more qualified candidates, but it would also take power away from the voters.
    8. What makes you a better choice than your opponent for this position?
    Dickson: I have worked for the county for over 10 years: Executive secretary for the Board of County Commissioners for seven years; and deputy county clerk for four years. I have knowledge of all aspects of county government and have worked with the most successful and well-respected elected officials: Linda Scheer, Janice Young, Janet Klasinski, and Stacy Driscoll. They worked their way up to the positions for which they were elected; as I intend to do.
    Koch: I have college degrees, and a variety of work experience, having taught, done factory work, owned my own businesses, been a landlord, worked multiple jobs at the same time, and done janitorial work. I have a long record of volunteer service and leadership with Crossroads Youth Center, the Salvation Army, and Kiwanis, and serving on the Waterworks board, among others.
    — Dale Brendel

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