In this year’s general election, voters will decide whether the Leavenworth County Commission should be expanded from three members to five.
A group known as Give Me Five collected the necessary signatures to have the question placed on the ballot for the November election.
Janette Labbee-Holdeman, who helped spearhead the effort, argued that expanding the commission to five members will provide better representation to southern Leavenworth County.
“To me, that has not been well represented,” she said.
She said a lot of people are moving into Basehor and Tonganoxie.
Currently, both communities are represented by one county commissioner.
A proposed map for five commission districts would divide southern Leavenworth County into two districts. The map was drawn up by the county’s Geographic Information Systems department.
“We need to have the commissioners representing the areas in which they live,” she said.
Labbee-Holdeman also feels her community has not been well represented on the County Commission.
“There has always been Leavenworth people that have represented Lansing,” she said.
Labbee-Holdeman said county commissioners need to focus more on economic development.
“And three just don’t seem to be doing that,” she said.
She also argued that having five members would increase the size of the quorum for the commission. She said this may help prevent issues related to the state’s open meetings law that have been experienced by the County Commission in the past.
Greg Beck has a contrary view about the proposal.
“I think it’s not needed at all,” he said.
The local resident has spoken on the issue at community forums.
He said the arguments being made for expanding the commission may sound good and be well intended.
But he said a five-member commission would be dealing with the same issues as a three-member commission. And he feels three members are sufficient for what is required of the commission.
“It’s only going to cost us more money to have the same net effect,” Beck said.
He said the cost to taxpayers would increase as the two additional commissioners draw salaries.
Beck noted some people have argued the money used to pay the salaries for three commissioners could be split five ways if the commission is expanded.
But Beck said there is no indication people serving on the commission will be willing to do the job for less money.
“They have not put anything in writing to say they would do that,” he said.
If residents want their commissioners to do a better job, they can elect better commissioners, Beck said.
He said having five commissioners may just compound a problem.