Tom Taul believes county government will benefit from his business experience.
Efficiency and common sense are the themes Tom Taul, the Republican candidate for 2nd District county commissioner, emphasizes in discussing his vision for Douglas County government.
As a successfully self-employed veterinarian for the past 22 years, Taul, 48, believes he has demonstrated a knack for efficient management and exercising common sense.
``I think that's important,'' he said of being his own boss. ``If I don't work and make intelligent decisions, I don't have a paycheck.''
Taul, who has attended all but a handful of county commission meetings since he began campaigning this summer, said he has become aware of how complex the issues facing county government have become.
``The average taxpayer needs to go down there and sit in on six or eight meetings,'' he said. ``You go spend some time, take off the blinders and listen to people talk and it really gives you something to think about.''
Open-mindedness and a willingness to listen are qualities Taul believes he would bring to the county commission. As he has visited with county department heads and people who have a personal stake in issues facing the county commission, Taul said he has learned plenty. In some cases he has seen his perceptions change.
That was his experience when he called on the county appraiser and learned that appraised values aren't assigned arbitrarily and that county staff follow state guidelines in determining a property's value.
Taul describes himself as fiscally conservative but said that doesn't mean he's against spending money for worthy purposes.
``To me, there's a difference between thrifty and tight,'' he said. ``I want to be thrifty but not tight.''
Generally, Taul is not in favor of increasing the reach of county government and believes that budgetary decisions should follow from that premise.
``I think we need less government and then with less government look at all sides of the issue with a common-sense approach,'' he said.
In deciding whether to fund agencies that are outside the county, Taul said, ``I want to look at social services individually and see how they affect the majority.''
Taul supports the concept of economic development and believes it's important for the county to assist job creation. He would be inclined to continue the county's $72,000 annual subsidy of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's economic development operation and would consider restoring the $50,000 annual contribution to construct a Kansas Innovation Center facility.
``I think we need to be involved in economic development,'' he said. ``Because of economic development, because of growth, that's why we have a nice place to live, that's why people want to live here. I'm not a business mogul that thinks you should have more, more, more but I don't think anybody should be afraid of change or challenge or competition.''
Before taking a firm position on the South Lawrence Trafficway alignment, Taul said he will want to know whether the 38th Street alignment is even a possibility, because of cost and environmental factors. Going south of the Wakarusa River is not an option for him, because of cost.
``It looks like we may have to bite the bullet and put it down 31st,'' he said.