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Archive for Sunday, November 3, 2002

Variety of questions to be settled at area ballot boxes

November 3, 2002

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A mayor could be thrown out of office.

A rural town might get its first liquor store.

And a school district could get another $32.5 million for construction.

As residents of Lawrence-area communities head to the polls in Tuesday's general election, plenty will be at stake in races and on issues that hit closer to home than campaigns for the Kansas Legislature, governor or U.S. Congress.

"Some people don't think their votes matter," said Shari Perry, Franklin County clerk. "There's no reason for people to think that  in any race  but in these cases people can really make a difference with their vote."

In Wellsville, voters will decide whether Gary and Diane Bonzo can open a liquor store along Kansas Highway 33 at the southeastern edge of town. The couple forwarded more than 340 signatures to the Wellsville City Council to get a question on the ballot, seeking to legalize the sale of package liquor in the city limits.

The Bonzos want to spend $225,000 on the store, which would be stocked with $35,000 worth of beer, wine and liquor. They say the business would pump thousands of dollars in sales-tax revenue into the city treasury.

"This is my life," said Gary Bonzo, a former machinist now on disability. "My life rides on the Nov. 5 election. It's a scary deal. I'm scared to death  sleepless nights, lawyer fees. It's all out there."

Booting a mayor

In Richmond, Mayor Ron Yager could be thrown out of office.

A petition drive drew 96 signatures to recall Yager after two years in office, accusing him of misconduct for forging the signature of the planning commission chairman on a hearing notice. He's also accused of failing to notify a fellow council member about a special meeting called to accept bids on a roof-repair job and to trim the planning commission's membership from seven to five.

Yager admits to both actions, but maintains  in a statement to be posted at Richmond's polling site  that "these actions I have taken as Richmond's mayor are neither incompetent nor illegal."

The Shawnee Heights school bond issue, based on an audit of school buildings, would finance projects connected with technology, safety, security and growth issues. Among them: an addition between two high school buildings that would include a 950-seat auditorium, a central library, a new kitchen and cafeteria, and new office and work areas.

District officials say the bond issue would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $37.27 a year in taxes.

Seats for several county commissions also will be contested Tuesday. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; advance voting is available in county courthouses from 8 a.m. to noon Monday.

Franklin County

Three seats on the Franklin County Commission will be filled after the election; two seats are being contested.

The race in the 5th District  which covers southern and eastern portions of the county, including Wellsville and Rantoul  pits incumbent Commissioner Donald Stottlemire, a Republican, against Democrat Chet Leach.

While Stottlemire is running on a platform of enhancing rural fire protection, paving roads and expanding services to growing areas, Leach wants to clean house at the county courthouse. He has sued the county in a zoning dispute, and has fought a pending condemnation of some of his land for a road-widening project.

"I get stuff done," said Leach, a lumberyard owner who said he'd been shot in the head in a domestic dispute and spent time in Lansing Correctional Facility for child abuse. "If I get in, I'd fire about half the people if I could. If I get in there, and if you want change, I'll definitely get a change."

In the 4th District  which covers much of southern Ottawa, including Ottawa University  Republican Don Hay faces a write-in challenge from fellow Republican Dennis Woolman.

Hay, a farmer and retired banker, said he was running to restore "honesty and integrity" to county government. He complains that his donation of some land for a road bridge backfired, because water now backs up onto his property  and commissioners refuse to do anything about it.

"Yes, I have an ax to grind," Hay said during the campaign.

Woolman, president of Buildex Inc., said he wanted to keep the focus on economic development, public safety and improved road conditions.

"I'm trying to get everybody working together," he said.

In the 1st District, only incumbent Donald Waymire, a Republican, is running. The district covers much of northern Ottawa, including downtown.

Jefferson County

In Jefferson County, Lynn Luck, Glen Phillips and Donna Fairbanks are competing for the seat representing the 1st District  which covers Oskaloosa, McLouth and three townships in the southeastern portion of the county.

Luck, winner of the Republican primary, is director of the Jefferson County Service Organization. She wants to bring consistency to road work and zoning issues, and eliminate government waste.

Phillips, a Democrat and retired school security officer, wants to focus on law enforcement, government efficiency and planning for roads, sewers and other services. He said he would forfeit the job's $14,420 annual salary for at least two years, leaving it to be spent instead on county needs.

Fairbanks, running as an independent, said she wasn't sure exactly what she would do if elected. The farmer and state-champion cornhusker seeks to bring common sense to the office.

Leavenworth County Commission

In Leavenworth County, the 1st District seat is up for grabs. The winning commissioner will represent the northern section of the county and portions of the city of Leavenworth.

Incumbent Democrat Don Navinsky, a commissioner since 1995, said he wanted to continue the fight to prevent state legislators from draining any of the $4.2 million in transfer funds slated for county operations and projects. He also wants to work on economic development and long-term planning for the community's expansion.

Republican challenger J.C. Tellefson, a stockbroker and investment counselor, said he would focus on bringing new jobs to the county, making government services and proceedings easier to understand and working to ease traffic problems, possibly by convincing Kansas Turnpike officials to add an interchange in the county.

Wakarusa Township

In Wakarusa Township, which covers much of the rural area adjacent to Lawrence, two candidates are competing to become township clerk.

Republican Trish Eckart, who works in the Utilities Department for the city of Lawrence, said she simply would work to spend the township's money effectively and efficiently, while keeping the fire department up to date on equipment and training.

Democrat C.V. Williams, a retired telegrapher for the Union Pacific Railroad, said he would seek to spend money "wisely" for road projects and fire protection.

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