Voters in the new 5th District of the Leavenworth County Commission will go to the polls Tuesday for a special election to select their commissioner.

Voters in the new 5th District of the Leavenworth County Commission will go to the polls Tuesday for a special election to select their commissioner. The 5th District was created as part of the expansion of the County Commission, which was approved by voters last year. The 5th District comprises the cities of Tonganoxie and Linwood and the Tonganoxie, Reno and Sherman townships. The candidates are David Frese, Tonganoxie, Curtis Oroke, Tonganoxie, Mike Stieben, Tonganoxie, and Stuart Sweeney, rural Linwood. The Leavenworth Times submitted the same questions to each candidate and here are their answers.


David Frese

Age: 50

Party affiliation: Unaffiliated

Occupation: Writer, high school soccer coach

Political experience: I have had civic leadership experience as the president of the Tonganoxie Public Library Board and the Friends of the Tonganoxie Public Library. I serve on the Tonganoxie Recreation Commission. I served on the board of trustees for the Tonganoxie United Methodist Church. In college at Kansas State University, I served as a student senator and student body vice president.


Curtis D. Oroke

Age: 49

Party affiliation: Unaffiliated

Occupation: Residential contractor

Political experience: Currently serving as a councilman on the Tonganoxie City Council. I have worked hard supporting the citizens of my community and council, providing needed services and following our budget and being prudent with our tax dollars. I have attended many County Commission meetings and researched decisions made by the board.


Mike Stieben 
Age: 51

Party affiliation: Republican
Occupation: BNSF Railway locomotive engineer for 23 years, licensed real estate agent in the state of Kansas, former substitute teacher for Tonganoxie public schools 
Political experience: Served as chairman of Rural Water District No. 13, Sherman Township clerk, precinct committeeman, Board of Trustees for Genesis Christian School, trustee for Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers Division No. 75, alternate legislative director for Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers Division No. 75, member of the Republican 2nd District Committee, member of the Republican State Committee


Stuart W. Sweeney

Age: 64

Party affiliation: Democrat

Occupation: Retired 44 years as traveling car inspector for Union Pacific Railroad

Political experience: 20 years as Sherman Township trustee, former Planning and Zoning member for Linwood


1. Why are you running for the County Commission?

Frese: To do right by our people. As a proven, creative and steady community leader, I will use our resources wisely, fight government secrecy and keep the people informed and engaged. I’m interested in serving our people, not the political parties or the entrenched power structure.

Oroke: I want to continue with my ability and commitment to manage at the county level, work toward lowering taxes, encourage business development to provide jobs and also share the tax burden rather than just depending on residential homeowners. Make good decisions that will benefit the entire county and also limit any legal exposures and claims based on poor decisions.

Stieben: I am running to support the goal of making government work for the people of Leavenworth County. Making government a partner in bringing positive economic development and high-paying jobs to our community. Streamlining the process of property transfers by the Planning Commission and the development of a new comprehensive land use plan will be top priorities.

Sweeney: As a growing county I think we need to plan for the future to ensure our children and grandchildren want to be proud to call Leavenworth County home. We need to prepare to lead the way. As a 39-year resident, I have seen shortcomings and want to be a part of correcting that.


2. What are the most important issues facing the county?

Frese: Finding out where our tax money is going. We have miles and miles of bad roads and a disturbing lack of community services in the southern part of the county. People feel like they’re paying too much in taxes, and it’s easy to see why. We’re not seeing the returns.

Oroke: A comprehensive plan for future growth and finding alternative tax-generating revenues so homeowners can have more relief from taxes.

Stieben: 1. Property tax relief – reducing the mill levy to provide relief to taxpayers. 2. Economic development – creating an environment that attracts small businesses and new industry to the area without changing the culture of southern Leavenworth County. 3. Transparency and efficiency – restoring professionalism and openness in our county government and building accountability processes for personnel management.

Sweeney: Roads and infrastructure are a concern of everyone. After that, honesty, transparency and integrity are necessary, especially after Tyson. We need to feel that our county is representing the residents and not those who have not yet contributed to this great county. The mill levy is also a concern.


3. What issues do you feel are unique or important to the 5th District?

Frese: Economic development that preserves the soul of our communities. Improving resources to heal our growing issues of mental and public health. Attract housing that addresses the needs of a growing population with a variety of different family needs. Find ways to prevent problems instead of just patching them up.

Oroke: With five commission seats, I feel strong representation is needed and I feel I can do the best job to ensure our voices are heard.

Stieben: 1. The successful development of the County Road 1 corridor. Maintaining the rural character of the community while bringing new jobs. 2. Making certain that the interests of the southern portion of Leavenworth County are not forgotten. Bringing the special concerns and community values of the Tonganoxie/Reno/Linwood/Sherman areas to the attention of the commission. 3. Lowering the county mill levy to provide some measure of relief to taxpayers.
Sweeney: The south end is experiencing spill-over growth from each direction. We need to guide that growth to ensure it reflects the desire of our residents to enjoy the rural, quiet life we have had and those coming here are getting the same thing. Good-paying jobs are necessary to keep our taxes down.

– John Richmeier