Douglas County Commission candidate Ken Grotewiel chats about primary election

July 24, 2008

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Ken Grotewiel is running as a Democrat for the Douglas County Commission, 3rd District.


Good afternoon. This is Dennis Anderson, managing editor of the Lawrence Journal-World. I will be moderating today's online chat with Ken Grotewiel, a Democratic candidate for the Douglas County Commission, 3rd District.
Welcome Mr. Grotewiel.

Ken Grotewiel:

Thank you. It's great to be here!


We have questions from readers, so let's get started.


What is your position on using tax abatements in an effort to allow companies already in the area to expand and as a tool to attract more industries to the area?

Ken Grotewiel:

Tax abatements are one tool that local govermments can use to encourage companies to expand or relocate here. There should be a benefit to the local tax base when the abatement has expired. We should keep abatements in mind to help existing businesses in the area. Any company receiving an abatement should be held accountable for what they have promised.


If you were on the commission this year, what budget decisions would you have liked to have seen made regarding the mill levy and possible service cuts?

Ken Grotewiel:

In this environemnt where many governments are in dire financial straits, there are many more tough choices to come. This year, the Commission was called upon to do a difficult task and spread the cuts over the entire budget. I think there needs to be more work done to see how departments and service providers can work together more efficiently to provide the level of services we all expect.


Let's get more specific with the last question. Please give an example of a decision the current commission made and how you might have acted differently.

Ken Grotewiel:

I think we could gain more efficiency by upgrading the technology available to the county employees. If we are to ask them to do more with less, they need good tools to work with. For example, in the current budget the information technology budget was cut with everything else and that does not help us during the next budget deliberations when I'm a County Commissioner. As I go door-to-door, I'm reminded how much people contribute to providing services that are coordinated by the County, such as the Extension Service. These efforts should be expanded.


What do you believe is the biggest issue that Douglas County residents face and how to you plan to resolve it?

Ken Grotewiel:

The biggest challenge in my mind is managing new development while preserving what we all like about this community. I particularly support making sure that green space is part of any new developments. It contributes to keeping the county attractive and increasing property values in the long term.


What aspects of your past job experience makes you qualified to be a County Commissioner and why?

Ken Grotewiel:

I have a broad range of experience from being a Kansas State Representative where I was involved with budgets for 12 years, in good times and bad. I've also worked at the Kansas Water Office where I worked on water quality issues involving Clinton Lake. I have owned two small businesses so I have first hand knowledge of what business owners face each day. Most recently, I have been involved in using mediation to help individuals and groups resolve their disputes in a mutually acceptable way. My experience is that all people have much more in common than not, and I pledge to use these skills to help resolve issues in this community.


How long have you lived in Douglas County?

Ken Grotewiel:

My wife and I have planned on moving here for many years once I retired. We were excited when that happened this past January. We really enjoy all that Douglas County offers. Although we moved here recently, I have been involved with rural issues in Douglas County as part of my tenure at the Kansas Water Office. I also provided dispute resolution training for people from Douglas County rural water districts. I believe that I bring a fresh perspective to the issues facing our county, and I pledge to use my broad experience to help resolve them.


I want to thank our readers for their questions, and Mr. Grotewiel for his answers.

Ken Grotewiel:

I enjoyed this opportunity today. If you would like to discuss these issues or learn more about my stand on the issues, please give me a call at 550-9105 or check out the campaign website at I look forward to hearing from you.


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