Marguerite Ermeling is continuing her quest to mount an independent campaign for Douglas County Commission.
The Lawrence veterinarian and rural resident has until noon Aug. 2 to complete her efforts to win a spot on the Nov. 2 ballot. To be listed, Ermeling must file a petition with signatures from 767 registered voters living within the commission's 3rd District, which covers much of west Lawrence and all of western Douglas County, including Lecompton.
Campaign organizers said they already had hundreds of signatures and foresaw no problems securing enough to make the ballot.
"I haven't been turned down yet," said Dave Ross, campaign treasurer and petition gatherer. "A lot of people, at least initially, are signing because they say that if she's willing to take a chance, they're willing to give her a chance. They don't even know her positions, but they've signed her petition because it is a democracy and they feel there should be a choice."
Ermeling, owner of Gentle Care Animal Hospital, wants to unseat incumbent Commissioner Jere McElhaney, a Republican and lone official candidate for the seat up for election Nov. 2.
Ermeling's decision to challenge McElhaney came in March, after the commissioner supported plans for a proposed industrial park northeast of the Farmer's Turnpike and the South Lawrence Trafficway. McElhaney's support came despite organized opposition from the Scenic Riverway Community Assn., a collection of nearby residents that includes Ermeling and her husband, Jim Baggett.
"All citizens of Douglas County need a commissioner who will listen to the will of the people," Ermeling said.
Ermeling said she was focusing her campaign on three issues:
- Rural planning. "Land use options should be preserved without sacrificing good planning," she said.
- Regional transportation and traffic planning. Ermeling supports working with local and state governments to create a broad vision for roads and other transportation issues in the county, rather than allowing developers to drive needs with specific projects.
- Boosting employment. Ermeling wants to identify sites for future development now, rather than wait for isolated proposals to be considered individually. "Jobs come with building broad support for business development," she said.