Archive for Thursday, October 21, 2004

McElhaney faces surprise fight

Commissioner, treasurer, clerk among county races

October 21, 2004


Jere McElhaney's relying on his record. Marguerite Ermeling is trying to break it.

McElhaney, an incumbent Douglas County commissioner, is facing an unexpected challenge in his first run for re-election.

Marguerite Ermeling

Party affiliation: IndependentDate of birth: July 5, 1951Occupation: Veterinarian and owner, Gentle Care Animal HospitalPolitical experience: NoneFamily: Married; one childReligion: CatholicAddress: 1852 E. 950 RoadKey issues: Encourage economic development to create new jobs; coordinate road plans countywide and regionally, through strong relationships with Kansas Department of Transportation and Kansas Turnpike Authority; encourage and support intelligent planning principles to guide rural and urban growth; work to achieve better balance between development interests and surrounding neighborhoods, and to preserve community character

Jere McElhaney

Party affiliation: RepublicanDate of birth: Feb. 25, 1958Occupation: Owner, McElhaney Fence BuildersPolitical experience: Douglas County commissioner, 2001-present; Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioner, 1999-2000Family: Married; three childrenReligion: LutheranAddress: 1353 N. 1100 RoadEducation: Lawrence High School, 1976; associate's degree, Kansas University Medical Center, 1979Key issues: Continue to build on teamwork and experience garnered on County Commission during past four years; push for completion of South Lawrence Trafficway and enhance overall transportation system in Lawrence, Baldwin, Eudora and rural Douglas County; continue to support school systems in county, including after-school programs; hold line on property, sales and "all other" taxes.

Ermeling, a Lawrence veterinarian, is mounting an independent bid for McElhaney's 3rd District seat, which represents much of west Lawrence and western Douglas County.

Ermeling and her supporters collected signatures from more than 1,000 registered voters to get her name on the ballot, and they're counting on many more actual voters darkening the oval next to her name by the time the polls close Nov. 2.

She wants to sound the call for change at the County Commission by taking a regional approach to transportation issues, working to spur job creation and giving property owners a chance to make a difference in rural planning.

"A vote for me is a vote for the voice of the people," Ermeling said. "I'm running because I want to be their voice."

McElhaney, owner of McElhaney Fence Builders, is staking his campaign on his four years of experience working with fellow Commissioners Charles Jones and Bob Johnson -- a team, McElhaney says, that has held a responsible line on taxes, followed through on needed road projects, cleaned up Lone Star Park and set a course for continued positive development outside Lawrence, Baldwin and Eudora.

"Things are running very, very smooth right now, and I'm proud to be a part of it -- I'm proud to be just a little part of it," said McElhaney, a Republican whose term included a year as chairman. "The main reason I'm running is to keep the momentum going."

The commission challenge is one of several races for key posts in county government.

County treasurer

Paula Gilchrist

Party affiliation: DemocratDate of birth: Nov. 5, 1950Occupation: Social service director for Salvation Army in Lawrence; property manager for Dutcher Property ServicesPolitical experience: Precinct committeewoman in Lawrence, 2001-2003; district aide for then-U.S. Rep. Jim Slattery, D-Kan., 1994Family: Divorced; two grown sonsReligion: ProtestantAddress: 815 Canterbury LaneEducation: Bachelor's in elementary education, Wichita State University, 1975; master's of psychology, Pittsburg State University, 1998Key issues: Eliminate lines and "proof-of-insurance runaround" in treasurer's office; extend office hours, establish new office locations and expand online access to office services; "service all taxpayers in a friendly and helpful manner."

Cindy Monshizadeh

Party affiliation: RepublicanDate of birth: Dec. 16, 1956Occupation: Interim Douglas County deputy treasurerPolitical experience: NoneFamily: Married; two childrenReligion: Free MethodistAddress: 3016 Yellowstone DriveEducation: Circle High School in Towanda, 1975; attended Butler County Community College and Kansas UniversityKey issues: Add employees to speed transactions at satellite offices; expand options for paying taxes with credit and debit cards; educate people about payment options and shifting tax deadlines.

For county treasurer, Democratic nominee Paula Gilchrist, who is social service director for the Salvation Army in Lawrence, is running against Republican Cindy Monshizadeh, the county's interim deputy treasurer.

Gilchrist, who also works as a property manager for more than a dozen rental properties in Lawrence, says she wants to "eliminate lines and proof-of-insurance run-around" in the treasurer's office, in part by extending hours of operation and opening new locations.

Monshizadeh, whose work in the treasurer's office is part of her 24 years of experience in the financial services industry, wants to boost e-government offerings and hire more employees to help reduce lines at the treasurer's offices in Lawrence. She also says she wants to educate taxpayers about their rights and responsibilities when it comes to registering vehicles and paying property taxes.

The two women are vying for the post to be vacated by Pat Wells, who is not seeking re-election.

County clerk

In the race for county clerk, Marni Penrod, deputy county clerk for elections, faces Jamie Shew, community relations coordinator for Metropolitan Community Colleges in Kansas City.

Penrod, unopposed in the Republican primary, says she wants to build upon her experience in the clerk's office and continue upgrading the county's voting systems to comply with the Help America Vote Act, the law pushing counties to use electronic voting machines in upcoming elections.

Shew, unopposed in the Democratic primary, says he wants to "clean up the election process" by making sure that ballots are counted quickly and correctly. He also wants to boost e-government offerings for voters to interact with the clerk's office online.

The winner will succeed Patty Jaimes, who has been clerk since 1981 and is not seeking re-election.

Other offices

Two county incumbents are running unopposed in their bids for re-election:

Ken McGovern, currently undersheriff, did not face opposition in the Republican primary to succeed Sheriff Rick Trapp, who is not seeking re-election. McGovern also has no declared opponent in the general election.

Marni Penrod

Party: RepublicanDate of birth: June 30, 1971Occupation: Deputy county clerk for electionsPolitical experience: Deputy county clerk for elections since August 2003Family: Married; two childrenReligion: MethodistAddress: 102 N. 1 Road, OverbrookEducation: Bachelor's in biology, Kansas University, 1993Key issues: Build upon experience in office, where Penrod has worked since 1995; continue to implement requirements of Help America Vote Act, for which she's been trained through the Secretary of State's Office; use "knowledge and insights" to serve citizens while spending their tax money wisely.

Jamie Shew

Party: DemocratDate of birth: Nov. 1, 1970Occupation: College relations coordinator, Metropolitan Community Colleges in Kansas CityPolitical experience: Vice chairman, Douglas County Democratic Party, 2002-present; worked internships for state representatives in MissouriFamily: Married; one childReligion: MethodistAddress: 1923 Edgelea RoadEducation: Bachelor's of political science, Southwest Missouri State University, 1994Key issues: Develop a County Clerk's Office that is "more accessible, more efficient and more responsive to the needs of the citizens," starting with a "top-to-bottom review" of the county's elections processes to ensure that ballots are counted quickly and accurately; supports requiring a "paper trail" for votes cast on electronic voting machines to be brought in to comply with the Help America Vote Act.

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