Updated 12:23 p.m. Oct. 11, 2018
Candidates for two seats on the Leavenworth County Commission covered a wide range of issues at a forum Wednesday night at the Riverfront Community Center.
District 1 candidates included Nancy Bauder, a Democrat, and Jeff Culbertson, a Republican.
District 2 candidates included Vicky Kaaz, a Republican, and Linda Johnson, a Democrat.
Bauder, a current member of the Leavenworth City Commission, said “politics should not be partisan” and that “it’s time for consensus building.”
Culbertson said the County Commission “needs more diplomacy and less arbitration and litigation.”
“When I see a mess, I feel compelled to clean it up,” said Johnson.
Kaaz said she is ready to serve the county as a commissioner and will be “listening and learning from you.”
Candidates for the District 1 seat are seeking to replace County Commissioner Bob Holland, who did not file for reelection. The seat is for four years.
Candidates for the District 2 seat are seeking to replace County Commission Chairman Louis Klemp, who did not file for reelection.
Klemp was appointed to temporarily represent District 2 following the resignation of former County Commissioner Clyde Graeber.
The winner of the District 2 race in November will serve out the remaining two years of the unexpired term.
The forum was moderated by Brandon Johannes, president of the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce, the host of the event.
Voters will decide on Election Day if the County Commission should expand to five districts instead of three.
Each of the candidates agreed that the County Commission should expand to five districts.
“It’s more diversity of opinion,” Bauder said.
When asked what should be done to restore respect in the County Commission, Culbertson said “stay off the front pages” of the newspaper. Kaaz, Bauder and Johnson agreed that communication and collaboration with county residents goes a long way in building respect.
Each of the candidates agreed that the county needs a comprehensive, long-range plan for the future.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know how to get there,” Johnson said.
When asked where new resources, should they become available, should go, Johnson said more focus needs to be on mental health programs and early childhood education. Kaaz said the county needs to “shore up” its mental health and suicide prevention programs.
Bauder said the county needs to look at reducing or eliminating the numerous stoplights on Kansas 7 Highway from the city of Leavenworth to The Legends. Culbertson said paved roads, crime rates and school security are areas of importance.
When asked what is the most important issue facing Leavenworth County, Culbertson said the county needs to strive to increase its tax base. He suggested the county consider hiring a full-time grant writer.
Johnson said the county is missing growth opportunities because of a lack of communication between the commission and county residents.
Kaaz said suicide and crimes rates are high in the county and they should be considered top issues in the county.
Bauder said the most important issue in the county is the “management and administration of tax dollars.”
The forum was the second of three forums hosted by the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce. The forums are being held less than a month prior to Election Day on Nov. 6.
The first forum featuring candidates for the 1st District of the Kansas State Board of Education was held Tuesday night at the community center.
The forum also was to feature candidates for Kansas governor and candidates for the Kansas 2nd Congressional District. No candidates in those races were present except Steve Watkins, a Republican candidate for the Congressional seat. He made a brief appearance and answered a few questions before departing the forum.
The last of the forums sponsored by the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce will be at 6 p.m. Oct. 16 at the community center. That forum will feature candidates for the 40th, 41st and 42nd Districts of the Kansas House of Representatives.
People wishing to ask questions to the candidates can do so by emailing their questions to Brandon Johannes, president of the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce, at brandon@LLchamber.com