Candidates running for a seat in the 4th District of the Leavenworth County Commission met Tuesday night in a forum at the Riverfront Community Center.

Chad Schimke and Hank Spellman spoke at the forum. Troy Smith is also a candidate but was unable to attend.

The candidates are running in a special election for the Leavenworth County Commission.

The 4th District is comprised of the city of Lansing, Delaware Township and portions of southeast Leavenworth.

The candidates were asked about the salaries of the commissioners.

Schimke said “it’s not about the money.” He said he would be in favor of spreading out the existing salaries among the five commissioners.

“How can you cut somebody’s salary?” Spellman asked.

The candidates were asked about road improvement projects and repairs.

Spellman said it comes down to available funds.

Schimke said the harsh winter has been hard on the roads and that the weather has limited the time to repair them.

The candidates were asked if they had anything in their backgrounds that would embarrass the county.

Schimke joked that he is glad Facebook was not around when he was growing up.

“But I have no concerns about that,” he said.

Spellman said he once had a business that was in trouble but “I took care of it.”

The candidates were asked if interaction with other elected officials is important.

“You have to show respect,” Spellman said.

“The respect has been missing,” Schimke said. “I view it as peers and partners.”

Both candidates said the county needs to bring in more businesses to broaden the tax base.

Schimke said he would focus “on what’s good for the county.”

Spellman said the county needs to “build a team where everybody is on board.”

The forum was the second of two hosted by Ernest Evans, a weekly columnist for the Leavenworth Times and a college professor.

The first forum was held last Thursday and featured candidates in the 5th District, which is comprised of Tonganoxie, Reno and Sherman townships and the cities of Tonganoxie and Linwood.

A special election will take place March 26. The new 4th and 5th districts were created as part of an expansion of the Leavenworth County Commission.

Smith sent an email message to Evans on Tuesday night about his absence from the forum. Evans shared the email with the Times.

“On behalf of the Troy Smith for Leavenworth County Commission campaign, I thank you for your attendance to Dr. Ernest Evans’ forum,” Smith wrote. “I humbly apologize. I had prior engagements long ahead of tonight’s forum. My mission in why I am running for (the) Leavenworth County Commission is transparency. … My focus is on service, opportunity and diversity. It is time for new representation on our commission and I intend to use my military experience and education to help foster the change we all are yearning for right here at home. So I humbly ask for your vote and support in this upcoming election on March 26. Do trust I am currently out working this evening speaking with other concerned voters in efforts to progress our community.”