OPINION

LETTER: Vote for Mike

Norm Greczyn/Leavenworth

To the editor:

I am a registered Republican who agrees with the recent letters of both Mark Preisinger (June 23) and Ken Bower (June 25) in the Leavenworth Times about the city commissioner candidates for election.

First, historically our local government achieves far greater success through non-partisanship. Second, at this critical time in Leavenworth’s pandemic recovery, we want an experienced team at the helm of our city, not novices to elected office, who will have to do “discovery learning” to figure out the way ahead. We need people who understand all aspects of governing a medium-sized Kansas city – infrastructure, economic development, public health and safety, budgeting, keeping citizens informed, and perhaps most importantly, how to work as a team for the city’s betterment.  

I have no worries about Commissioner Mike Griswold, who is running for reelection, in any of the above areas. Focusing on Mike’s year as mayor, I was impressed with his leadership and the transparent and effective approach he took during the COVID-19 health crisis. He worked smartly to gather information from all available sources at the county and state levels, and then kept citizens informed by executing a long running series of Facebook Live town hall meetings. His highest priority was always to ensure the health, welfare and safety of all of Leavenworth’s citizens and its businesses.  

Mike educated us on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and its complexities. He spent time outlining key points of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), bringing in a subject matter expert during one town hall to explain the “ins and outs” of the application process, including the key role played by our community’s bankers working with their small business clients. This approach reinforced the work of the Leavenworth Main Street organization and Leavenworth County Development Corporation in getting the word out to our community’s small businesses. Small businesses within the city secured nearly $9 million in PPP loans, which helped 1,465 people retain their jobs. 

Regarding the financial assistance provided to state and local governments under the CARES Act, the city last November decided to set aside at least $250,000 of CARES Act funds for a COVID-19 Relief Small Business Grant Award Program. Since that time the city has awarded $188,750 in 50 individual grants to Leavenworth small businesses. As mayor, Mike oversaw the initial distribution of $325,000 in CARES Act funds to 15 community service organizations (CSO). Since that time the city has distributed an additional $351,000 in 22 individual awards to CSOs. Mike’s support for both the city’s business community and the CSOs, on the front line of helping our citizens in need, has been a hallmark of his term on the City Commission. 

On infrastructure, Mike again moved the city forward. He worked with his fellow commissioners on an aggressive plan to fix our roads and deal with the city’s deteriorating stormwater infrastructure. Road funding in 2020 increased to $2 million, an increase of $700,000 from previous years, which resulted in six miles of roads being renovated/refurbished and repaved. In 2021, the $2 million allocation to the city’s Pavement Management Program will result in another 10 miles of renovated/refurbished roads. The Stormwater Management Program in 2020 continued to make progress toward the goal of preventing flood damage due to the city’s aging storm sewer system, parts of which have deteriorated and/or failed.   

With other commissioners, Mike has played a key role in overseeing the acceleration of economic development within the city. Many projects have already been completed or are underway, including the Fort Gate Redevelopment Project along Metropolitan Avenue in northeast Leavenworth. Another indicator of economic growth is the demand for housing. The city issued more permits for single family residences in 2020 than it had in a decade. This trend continues with the city receiving plans thus far in 2021 for an additional 80 single family lots.   

For the future, Mike Griswold has the right priorities for our city. Always forward looking, he will focus on a number of priorities: implementing Leavenworth’s recently approved Vision and 2030 Comprehensive Plan; sustaining the surge of economic development across the city, bringing businesses to the Business and Technology Park; property tax relief, creating a citywide strategic road improvement plan; keeping the police department fully funded, and continuing to improve the city’s appearance and image.   

With Mike Griswold, we have a commissioner who has demonstrated his ability to work with a myriad of stakeholders and his fellow commissioners to improve the quality of life of citizens and realize Leavenworth’s vision to become “the Best City in the Midwest.” Let’s sustain this progress. Please vote for Mike Griswold, an experienced leader who gets results for Leavenworth, on Election Day Aug. 3. Early, in person, voting starts July 14.