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Archive for Friday, February 25, 2005

J-W candidate questionnaire — Mike Amyx

February 25, 2005

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1. Name: Mike Amyx

2. Occupation: Barber, Owner Amyx Barber Shop

3. Date of Birth: 6/11/53

4. Years in Lawrence:All of my life

5. Family: Wife, Marilyn; Adult son, Chris (22)

6. Religious Affiliation: Methodist

7. Previous Political Experience: Lawrence City Commission 1983-1988; Mayor 1985-86, 87-88; Douglas County Commission 1989-1993; Chairman, Douglas County Commission 1989-90; Chairman, Kansas Board of Barbering 2003 -- present

8. In July, a ban on smoking in most indoor public places was implemented by the city. Do you support the ban, and why or why not?Yes, I do, because the ordinance appears to be a very popular one. As a smoker, I have had to make changes and I believe my changes are probably good for those around me. For businesses, I would support helping those with making changes to accommodate an outside smoking area. Some places have already done this and others will need the city to at site planning for help. Another concern I have is having business owners carrying out the policing of the ordinance. I say if an owner of a business has tried to take care of the problem and can't, the business owner should not be fined. The individual who broke the ordinance should be fined.

9. What's your opinion on how the city has managed and planned for growth during the past five years? Anytime the public hears the city talk about managed or planned growth, red flags always appear. The truth of the matter is we must manage and plan the growth of our city. Over the past five years, the economy, change in philosophy and the city's financial stream has had a great effect on growth. During slower times, it is the city's responsibility to plan for what I see as the growth of tomorrow,

10. The city has begun a study to determine the fiscal impacts of growth on the city's taxpayers. Do you believe that residential growth pays for itself or costs existing taxpayers additional dollars? If you believe it does not pay for itself, how would you address that issue? I thought that is why we are paying for the study to be completed. A commissioner needs to keep an open mind about issues and use all available data and tools to make a good decision.

11. City officials have begun using roundabouts and traffic circles as traffic calming control devices on some Lawrence streets. Do you believe the devices are effective and a good use of city funds? I do not support the use of roundabouts.

12. City commissioners have authorized officials with the Lawrence Public Library to explore the possible construction of a new multimillion dollar library in downtown, or the expansion of the current facility at 707 Vt. Do you support moving forward with the project? The current commission has already moved to the next step. Once that work is completed, I would be able to respond to whether or not we should move forward. I will say one thing: I am a big supporter of the Lawrence Public Library. The library is a very highly used service of the city and the staff does a great job.

13. The city's task force on homeless services is currently drafting a report for a community wide strategy of providing services to the homeless. What's your philosophy on whether or how the city should provide services to the homeless? I think we should continue to help the social service agencies that we are already funding. I don't believe the city should ever take over what various agencies are doing. I would support the present help the city is providing financially. The current city funding should be for overnight housing to protect people from the elements. We should, as a community, work to help people who want to help themselves, but it should never be a handout to those who wish to take advantage of the system.

14. Specifically on the homeless, do you support an idea that has been introduced by a task force of Downtown Lawrence Inc. that would require homeless individuals to show a city issued I.D./service card before receiving certain services, such as food and shelter? No

15. Do you believe Lawrence has an affordable housing problem, and if so, how would you address it? Yes, we do have a problem with affordable housing. We are fortunate to have a very strong market, but this certainly doesn't help anyone trying to buy a first home in Lawrence. Another thing that causes housing prices to go up is the availability of building lots. A lack of building lots will cause existing housing costs to rise even faster. One way the city may be of help is to look at the project and 24th and Haskell, where, the city became involved in the development for the purpose of providing a more affordable home. The city should also continue to work with Tenants to Homeowners and Habitat for Humanity to encourage and assist their efforts.

16. Please comment on your fiscal philosophy and whether you would envision the need to raise taxes during your term on the city commission. As a small business owner, I have to manage my finances and budget on a day-to-day basis. I will bring that experience and business background to the commission. As a former Lawrence City Commissioner, I understand the budget process and what it takes to make the hard decisions during preparation of the budget. It is my fervent hope to not have to raise taxes during my term, but sometimes emergencies may occur.

17. The city currently offers a fixed route public transportation system. Do you believe the system, the T, has been successful and is an effective use of city funds?The T was never designed to be self-supporting, but it is offering alternative transportation to many individuals. My biggest concern regarding the T is not allowing it to become a larger burden on the tax base. The city should encourage the use of the T in order to make it a more cost-effective use of the tax dollar. The decision has already been made but I would have supported a merger with the KU on Wheels system operated by a private entity.

18. The city currently operates a municipal golf course, Eagle Bend, which has been operating at a loss during the last several years. Do you believe the golf course is an effective use of city funds. This is another example of hindsight governance. The decision for Eagle Bend has already been made and now the city must pay its obligation. The commission should work with city staff to find ways to increase the use of Eagle Bend and lower the impact of the operation of the golf course on the budget and the taxpayer.

19. The city currently is involved in litigation to stop Walmart from building a new store at the corner of Sixth street and Wakarusa Drive. Do you believe that corner is appropriate for a big box retail development such as Walmart has proposed? It would be inappropriate to comment directly about the litigation involving Wal-Mart. I will say, though, that I believe it is imperative that we have a W. 6th Street plan in effect, outlining what is and is not appropriate along this corridor entrance into our city. The plan should take into consideration proximity to schools and existing neighborhoods, and impact of increased traffic.

20. The city currently has a ban that prohibits the use of most fireworks within the city limits during the Fourth of July holiday. Do you support the fireworks ban? As a child growing up in Lawrence, I enjoyed the Independence Day celebrations, especially the fireworks. But I can't in good conscience agree to change to ban at this time.

21. What's your position on whether and where the South Lawrence Trafficway project should be completed? It is critically important for the traffic flow, the economic vitality of our community, and the healing of ourselves to complete the South Lawrence Trafficway. Should we divide the Baker Wetlands -- probably not; but I do think the SLT should be constructed as far north as possible without crossing the Wakarusa.

22. If elected, what would be the top three issues you would seek to address during your term?
1. Jobs - We need to encourage the continued growth and success of our local businesses. At the same time, we need to bring more jobs to Lawrence, albeit retail, industrial, or service oriented. We need to assure that there will be ample opportunities for our children and grandchildren to stay in this community we love so much.

2. The Budget -- We have a responsibility to assure that our tax dollars are used efficiently and effectively. You can classify me as a fiscal conservative, but I take seriously the job of conscientiously spending your money.

3. Infrastructure Maintenance and Improvement -- Equally important as good managed growth is the emphasis on infrastructure maintenance and improvement. We must assure that our city does not rot from the inside out. The long-established neighborhoods of our city have many needs in terms of street, water, sewer and stormwater improvements. These must not be overlooked at the expense of new growth.

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