Voters will have two candidates to choose from this November in the race for Leavenworth County treasurer.

Voters will have two candidates to choose from this November in the race for Leavenworth County treasurer.

Janice Van Parys, a Republican, is running for a second time. She is being challenged by Kelly Kultala, a Democrat.

The Leavenworth Times asked each candidate the same questions as part of a weekly series that focuses on local races.

 

Kelly Alford Kultala

Political party: Democratic

Age: 58

Occupation: Realtor and substitute public school teacher

Political experience: Piper USD 203 school board, Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Commissioners District 5 and the Kansas Senate District 5.

 

Janice L. Van Parys

Political party: Republican

Age: 50

Occupation: County treasurer

Political experience: Four years as deputy county clerk and three years county treasurer

 

What are the most important issues facing the Leavenworth County Treasurer’s Office?

Kultala: Reducing the Treasurer’s Office operating budget and implementing professionalism and enhanced customer service. Since 2012, the Treasurer’s Office budget has grown by approximately $200,000, this is a 34 percent increase. In the past few weeks, the Leavenworth Times has printed several articles that have brought to light the problems that exist in the Treasurer’s Office – charges of harassment, petty feuds and a work environment that has driven people to resign. This needs to stop.

Van Parys: It is essential that the Treasurer’s Office maintain the highly efficient staff we have today. This requires appropriate allocations from the county general fund, but the commissioners routinely rely on a separate state motor vehicle fund to pay for staff doing county work. Until this issue can be resolved with responsible budgeting practices, it will remain the most important issue facing the Leavenworth County Treasurer’s Office.

 

What is the most important duty of the Leavenworth County treasurer?

Kultala: The Treasurer’s Office has a lot of responsibilities, which include the collection of various taxes and special assessments, apportioning and distributing this revenue, handling the title and registration requirements for motor vehicles and investing some of the county’s tax dollars. However, the most important duty of the county treasurer is that of a public servant, creating a welcoming environment for the taxpayers to complete their business with the county.

Van Parys: The most important (and difficult) duty of a county treasurer is to implement the rules and regulations of the Kansas Department of Revenue regarding vehicle registrations as well as follow state statutes regarding the collection and distribution of all other forms of taxes in the most customer-friendly way possible. These rules/statutes are not always conducive to making taxpayers happy, but must be complied with by law.

 

How do social media impact modern campaigns?

Kultala: Social media is a powerful tool. It has the ability for us to openly connect with our friends and neighbors. However, social media is public and can be seen by anyone around the world. As such, a politician’s duty is to act responsibly and professionally in a manner that best represents all people of our county.

Van Parys: Social media provides the ability to get the message out faster. When used responsibly, it provides great insight into how voters think, behave and engage with your position on issues. On the downside, it can also can be misused to provide misinformation and personal attacks.

 

Why are you the best candidate for the Leavenworth County treasurer?

Kultala: My Leavenworth County roots run deep, I was born at Cushing Memorial Hospital and several generations of my dad’s side of the family have resided in the Leavenworth area. As a state senator representing this area I have a proven track record of working with our community. I also have the trusted experience that the Treasurer’s Office needs and I will run the office with honesty and transparency.

Van Parys: In addition to running a very customer-friendly Treasurer’s Office at both the Courthouse and annex, I have been employed by the county for almost 15 years and I know the job, unlike my opponent from Wyandotte County. I cannot imagine walking in off the street to do this job. Being a county commissioner, senator or school board member could never prepare you for this position. You must have institutional knowledge. There is no time for a learning curve.