Douglas County Commission candidate Grant Eichhorn chats about primary election
July 10, 2008
This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.
Good morning, this is reporter Mike Belt and I will be your moderator today. We have questions for Grant Eichhorn, who is running for election to the Douglas County Commission as representative in the 2nd District. He is a Republican. Grant, thanks for being here.
Glad to be here.
when the schwadas 155ac project came before the planning commission the first time you voted yes and now when it came to you this time you voted no.Can you tell us why you did this
Best answer is I was a bit new to planning. As chair I followed procedure - absolutely. As a planning commissioner I certainly am glad to give some latitude for the voting.
Where do you stand on the issues surrounding the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) lodge zoning? The FOP club has owned their property for over 30 years under the same zoning classification, with previous county commission knowledge. In the last year or so the county has challenged their zoning. The FOP club seems to be a very valuable resource to this county and I would hate to see it go away. If the FOP club zoning is changed and firearms are restricted, do you have any plans on how to fund an alternative (and much more expensive) training location in such tight budget times?
Thank you for your time.
I'd suggest making the zoning fit the site. It is indeed valuable and I took hunter safety there myself. The process can be followed and all come out OK.
can you tell us all what you have done to bring growth and jobs to the county when you have a 90 percent no vote on the planning commission
Pretty sure you have your numbers ABSOLUTELY wrong. I voted for all those that fit the guidelines of 2020 and had discussion and resolution on the rest.
Grant, here is one from me. What are your thoughts about finishing the last leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway? The current commission favors the route north of the Wakarusa River.
I am in favor of it. As chair of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (which is in charge of all regional transportation routes). I was on the 2030 committee which formed our regions long term transportation plan. This was an objective group an all reasonable scenarios were discussed and weighted. I followed the federal guidelines and that included bringing up alternative routes. Without bringing up alternatives our group would have done a disservice to the process. The 32b alignment came as the best route when all agreed upon factors were weighted.
The planning staff has drafted a massive rezoning plan for 3000 acres along the Farmers Turnpike. The property owners affected by this plan have been invited to comment, but none of the input from those affected has been incorporated into the revised drafts of the rezoning document.
As the chairman of the planning commission you've received feedback from the community as to how they are overwhelmingly against this plan. Now you're asking these same rural residents for their vote. Since you're unable to influence the direction of the planning staff and your fellow commissioners on this issue, do you think you can have an impact as a county commissioner on this issue? How can you ignore the voice of the people as a planning commissioner, and then promise to be their champion as a county commissioner?
I agree that this is a contentious issue. There is a greater good, and that certainly seems a bit overarching and trite as a phrase, but the need for planned area to the west and especially along I70 are going to be vital to job creation. I completely disagree with the idea that I didn't influence planning staff. 7 area plans as well as the long term transportation plan and numerous other issues were resolved during my tenure. You are welcome to ask the planning staff their opinions of me.
If you were on the commission right now, what decisions would you like to see made about the county's budget process regarding the mill levy, possible service cuts and other issues?
Tough one. The biggest piece of the pie is always payroll and benefits. Being a business owner it is always the 2nd thing to look at. The first is cutting waste- fluff, non essentials and efficiency. The costs of doing business are increasing. Health care is a big item for all employers. Infrastructure and safety are priority one and it gets tougher after that. I would have a difficult time raising the mill I think taxes are high enough.
Something always seems to happen to folk when they get elected -- over time they give up their core principles in favor of being popular (to get re-elected, funding, etc.). Do you vow to fight the good fight (e.g., to limit spending, not raise taxes, ...), even if it means that you will be hissed at in the streets and potentially go down in flames in the next election?
Thanks, and good luck in the election. Glad it's you and not me! :-)
I have no issues with following my core principles. As planning commission chair I took lots of hits. Does it bother me- some. Will it define me- not really. I will make the best decisions I can and move on. Not doing this to become popular.
In your view, what are the most important issues for the county and how to you plan to approach them?
The I70 / farmers turnpike area of planning as a source of employment is vital. Farmland has baggage and justice can't be done addressing it in this type of forum. Keeping the budget in line is always the toughest as it directly impacts people that are close to you. I plan on approaching economic development by working with the chamber (new and improved chamber?) and city to put area in play that future businesses will come to. Working with regional transportation and becoming members of the MARC (mid-american regional counsel) should be done as well.
Do you know much about your primary election opponent, David Brown? Any idea if the two of you differ on anything?
I do not know much of him. We have met a few times and is a nice guy. We both agreed on a CUP (conditional use permit) that he came to speak on a year or so ago. Was in fact a no on my part that the county commission agreed with as well. I don't have much idea where he stands on issues.
Well, we hope to have David in for a chat sometime, too. That wraps up our chat with Grant. Thanks for the questions and thanks, Grant, for joining us.
As stated at the beginning. Glad to be here and look forward to any other questions. People can submit by hitting website- Grantfordgcounty.com