Douglas County Commission candidate Frank Male chats on

October 17, 2012

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


Welcome, everyone, to our first candidate chat of the 2012 election season. Joining us this afternoon is Frank Male, the Republican nominee in the race for the Douglas County Commission's 2nd district.

We've also invited his opponent, County Commissioner Nancy Thellman, to chat. She'll join us tomorrow at noon.

Frank, welcome.

I'll start off: Tell us a bit about yourself and why you're running.

Frank Male:

My name is Frank Male, My wife Kallie & I have been maried 27 years! We have 4 children ages from 25 to 14. We live on a farm south of Eudora for the past 20 years. Lawrence Landscape is how I make my living. Partner Glen & I have been in business for 25 years. I've been interested in economic development for the past 20 years, serving on the land use task force during the creation of Horizon 2020, serving on the Lawrence Douglas County Planning Commission for 2 term and served as chair for a year. I'm currently finishing my second tour on the Lawrence Chamber Board. I decided it was time to get off the sidelines and try and help bring primary jobs to Douglas County. That is the primary reason my hat is in the ring.


Considering that arts funding at the state level is up in the air, what role — if any — should the county take in funding or promoting the arts?

Frank Male:

I'm not sure what role the county has played in the past when it comes to funding the arts. But I think they play a growing role in our community. Final Fridays has been a huge success and draws people throughout the region. And they bring their dollars to spend in our community.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Blues & BBQ fund raiser in Baldwin City at the Lumber Yard Arts Center. The combination was great. Great food, Great music, Great people ( I sat with a couple from Leavenworth) and money was raised. Were else could you hear " The Euksters" on a Saturday night?


Your opponent believes that, even in tough times, monies should be allocated (wasted) on eco-devo and heritage. Do you share that same belief?

Frank Male:

I do believe money should be invested in Economic Development on a continual basis for the attraction of primary jobs. Primary jobs bring new revenue into our community. Examples of these companies include Amar the Garage Door Group, Berry Plastics, and Grandstand Glass ware. These companies ship product throughout the united states, and the revenue comes back to Douglas County, to pay wages and health insurance for employees and various taxes to our local and state government. The money also circulates through our local economy thru spending on groceries and game tickets to dentists & mechanics. This helps our local small businesses thrive and hopefully expand.
Money spent on Heritage I view as more of a want than a need. Most if not all of us have felt the effects of this economic downturn. When fixed income, low income people and our small business owners are struggling, I have a hard time spending precious property tax dollars on these projects. The county over the past 3 years has spent upward of $1,000,000 on these projects and this is over and above the $600,000 that has been the baseline allocation to fund our local historical societies.
I believe that the wise use of property tax dollars should be spent on core services like public health and safety, roads and bridges, and other public works projects. The county has asked department heads and employees to tighten their belts , go with out base pay increases because of tough economic times while they watch $1,000,000 go to Heritage projects. It sends a message about the priorities of the Douglas County Commission.


If elected to the Commission, Will you consider proposals,put forth buy Developers, only if they are in the Best Interest of the City of Lawrence or will you put the best interest of the Developers ahead of the City Of Lawrence and it Residents?

Frank Male:

Through my six years on the Lawrence Douglas County Planning Commission ( one year as Chair) we would routinely have public hearings on 15 + projects at our monthly meeting.
I've always reserved judgment till the presentations from staff, the applicant, and comments from the public have been heard. It is only then that you have enough information so that a balance can be struck. I've also learned it's best for the builder/ developer to have meetings with the neighbors as the proposal & designs are being formulated. Having the concerns known early makes for a more efficient process and both sides are less entrenched. They both have skin in the game. Many times during my term on the planning commission we sent proposals back so compromises could be worked out that would benefit all involved.


What would be your priorities for funding social service agencies in Douglas County?

Frank Male:

After having a 20 minute conversation with Dave Johnson CEO of Bert Nash yesterday...
He impressed me with the very cost effective outcomes from having the WRAP program in many of the school systems in Douglas County. On a pure math scenario it makes tremendous sense, by helping at risk kids identify and address problems, allowing them to graduate High School and opens so many opportunities that they otherwise would not have had. These kids life time earning potential is increased by $300,000, not only changing their lives but those around them too. The key is catching mental health problems as they are just starting, the early teen years are crucial and the WRAP program in concert with our school systems are a proven winner.
I would continue funding for the WRAP Program.
Quickly, I would also support the base line funding ($15,000)that was the norm until this last year for the Lawrence Community Shelter. The County has already gone above and beyond by doing what was necessary to allow the shelter to be in compliance at it's new future location by the Douglas County Jail. I believe that the Alcohol Tax revenue that the City of Lawrence receives would be a good funding source for the Community Shelter.


Are you being given campaign funds or accepting support, such as signs and mailings, by the Americans for Prosperity or other similar groups supported by the Koch bothers?

Frank Male:

The answer is no.


Many in the county feel like the City of Lawrence dominates what goes on at the County level. Do you feel this is an issue, and how can rural residents and smaller cities feel like their issues and opinions are being addressed?

Frank Male:

I've lived 5 miles South of Eudora for 20 years now. My children have been raised on our small farm and all have attended Eudora Public Schools. Warning to 4 -H parents out there, when the kids leave for college their animal projects don't! We still have 2 horses and 1 pygmy goat that will never be sold... I am at heart a small town guy. Part of reason for serving on the Lawrence DOUGLAS County Planning Commission was to represent the unincorporated areas of the county. The current county commission has made it a practice to appoint people within the City of Lawrence
to fill the slots that have traditionally been filled with rural residents to bring balance and a voice to the table. If elected I will do my part to appoint rural residents to the planning commission.
Both Baldwin City and Eudora have bright futures due in part to the BNSF Intermodal being constructed in Edgerton. Hopefully housing starts and business activity ramp up when it comes on line. See you at the Maple Leaf Parade this Saturday!


We'd like to thank Frank Male and our questioners for participating in today's chat. His opponent, County Commissioner Nancy Thellman will be here for a chat at 11 a.m. Thursday, not noon, as stated in our introduction. Here's the link to submit a question for Commissioner Thellman:


hipper_than_hip 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm not a fan of the way Nancy likes to spend taxpayer dollars, but I'm not certain that Frank can say no to the developers.

nancythellman 5 years, 7 months ago

In the short time the Heritage Conservation Fund, Economic Development Fund and E-Community programs have been up and running (two years for the first two, one year for the third) fully 20 jobs have been added to our small communties--directly related to these programs. 3 new jobs in Eudora and 17 new jobs for Baldwin City with the arrival of the Kansas Belle Dinner Train later this year. This new and substantial business would not have come to Douglas County without funding from the Heritage Conservation Fund and E-Community--both programs I initiated. Along with the 17 new jobs in Baldwin City will be the arrivall of a projected 8-9,000 NEW visitors to Baldwin City, patrons of the dinner train. The partnership that was created to put this package together was between the Douglas County Commission, the City Council of Baldwin City, local banks, the Baldwin Economic Development Council, Midland Rail, and, of course, the owner of the Nebraska-based dinner train. Again, without Douglas County's partnership, this new business with its NEW JOBS, would not be on its way to Douglas County this fall. This is one example of several that can be made to point to the success of partnering with local business leaders and governing entitities to bring successful economic development to our county. After all, we know that most jobs are created in the small business sector. There is more to economic development than large manufacturing--though that is desirable, too, and we're all working equally hard on that. Small business expansion, entrepreneurial pursuits, heritage tourism, recreational tourism, local food system development, the arts--all of these are economic development directions the county can now pursue thanks to these innovative programs. All the aforementioned sectors are types of economic engines, by the way, that have been featured in a recent issues of the Lawrence Business Magazine.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's on-line chat--at 11:00! County Commissioner Nancy Thellman

lunacydetector 5 years, 7 months ago

$1,000,000 for 20 jobs cost $50,000 per person.....not bad

thelonious 5 years, 7 months ago

I live in Eudora south of K-10, and I think Nancy has been a wonderful county commissioner for residents of Baldwin City, Eudora, East and North Lawrence, and the unincorporated areas of her district. She was responsive to concerns I have had over the past couple of years regarding issues important to Eudora, and I believe she has served the entire county well ont the commission. I was actually personally not too excited about the Heritage Fund and Eco-Devo Fund when they were originally set up, but now see the value of them and I think they are more than worth the investment.

I have concerns about whether Mr. Male (no pun intended) would have stood up to the development interests that wanted to put a sand pit right next to the Eudora city water supply last spring. I am not knee-jerk anti development - but I am also not knee-jerk pro-development. I think Nancy does a great job of balancing the issues and considering the big picture when it comes to development issues, and I fear that Mr. Male will simply say "yes" to every development proposal that comes before the county commission, in the name of "jobs", even if they have negative long-term consequences, like threatening the water supply of Eudora. Please re-elect Nancy Thellman, and full disclosure, I am not working for her campaign, nor have I even made any campaign contribution to her campaign. I simply think she is the best choice for county commissioner from her district in the upcoming election and would like to see her re-elected.

jcstepmom 5 years, 7 months ago

"The county has asked department heads and employees to tighten their belts , go with out base pay increases because of tough economic times while they watch $1,000,000 go to Heritage projects"

And overpriced land near the jail.

nancythellman 5 years, 7 months ago

Just a little clarification... The yearly cost of the Heritage Conservation Fund is $350,000, so a total of $700,000 in funding as been allocated over the two years the program has been operational. Next year's budget is for $325,000 and the request for proposals will be accepted in the spring.

A total of 17 conservation, restoration, historic registry, museum and Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area projects have been funded so far as well as a county wide historic survey that has been completed in Eudora Township and will slowly but surely move through all nine townships. So, you can see the Kansas Belle Dinner Train is just one example of a large number of funded projects throughout the county. Here are the details of that one project: The Kansas Belle Dinner Train received a $54,000 grant from the Heritage Conservation Fund (they asked for $80,000). The project also received a $25,000 gap funding loan from the county's new E-Community fund, and a $15,000 loan from the county's Economic Development Fund for unexpected sewer line costs. The latter two loans will be paid back to the county with interest. So, only $54,000 was spent; the rest was loaned out of the E-Community program which stems from the state's "Network Kansas" program. The total package after all the partners (including the City of Baldwin and Baldwin's Economic Development Council) chipped in was over $300,000--including money from the train's owner. So this is an example of private/public investment where public dollars are leveraged to achieve an end that otherwise wouldn't have been possible. And that end is not only job creation, but building on those best characteristics of our large and small communities--the ones that add to our own quality of life, and also attract visitors to our great county. Adding to our inventory of accessible Freedom's Frontier Heritage Area Sites is a wise investment for Douglas County, given that we're the lead county in that 41 county federally designated tourism program...but maybe we can leave that conversation for tomorrow. I welcome any questions! County Commissioner Nancy Thellman

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

Frank Male is Chamber of Commerce through and through. He has been a part of that inner circle for as long as I can remember going back more than 20 years.

He also backs Lynn Jenkins or least is distributing signs for Lynn Jenkins.

Both the Chamber and Lynn Jenkins represent extreme reckless management of tax dollars.

Frank Male will not say no to developers no matter what. Jobs is a buzz word with little significance and is more about political rhetoric.

Lawrence is a low wage community like Lawrence Landscape.

paulveer 5 years, 7 months ago

I think it would be interesting here to hear what current or former employees have to say about Mr. Male.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 7 months ago

^^Frank Male is Chamber of Commerce through and through. He has been a part of that inner circle for as long as I can remember going back more than 20 years.

He also backs Lynn Jenkins or least is distributing signs for Lynn Jenkins.

---great reasons to support Frank, seems to me.
the example cited above sounds more like the money for that should've come fom private investment instead of government, otherwise we start to be making investments like in Solyndra.

vote no on Thelman.

also, note how this is supposed to be a chat about Frank Male and how the corrupt leftists sorta took it over?

bearded_gnome 5 years, 7 months ago

Merrill, are you really so dumb?

let me splain it to ya':

I'm typin' slow. Frank Male is a Republican.

Jenkins is a Republican.

usually Republicans support for each other.

,,, if I wanted to express the equivalent fake rage to yours it'd be: "Merrill actually votes for and works for Marcie Francisco imagine that!" unless, of course, she's not wacko liberal enough fr you.

anyay, support Frank Male for fiscal sanity.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

--- These so called republicans are the biggest spenders of tax dollars in the USA history. Right here in Lawrence,Kansas the Chamber supports large tax dollar handouts to developers in a generous fashion which increases the cost of living in Lawrence,Kansas.

--- Tax dollar handouts do not come for free.



--- It seems to me if developers/builders etc etc cannot make a profit without millions in tax incentives perhaps those projects should be put in the trash cans.

--- Developers are very expensive budget items. Now we have tons of new development which is not paying back the community aka no economic growth. Something went wrong.

--- Higher taxes and user fees are financing the new wealth for the real estate industry. This is not economic growth. This is you and me paying for what should be paying for itself

--- But there is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned. Developers are draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

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