These are the responses from Sue Hack, incumbent city commission candidate, to the Journal-World's candidate survey.
1. Name: Sue Hack
2. Occupation: City Commissioner, retired teacher
3. Date of Birth: July 15, 1947
4. Years in Lawrence: 39
5 Family: Al, husband, Brian (26), Anne (24)
6. Religious Affiliation: Plymouth Congregational Church
7. Previous Political Experience: Currently completing first term as a Commissioner
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? I did not vote in support of the smoking ban as it was presented to the commission. My position is that there are alternatives that have not been completely explored, and there are local businesses that are suffering due to this particular ban. I think we owe it to all of our citizens and business operators that they be given a seat at the table when making these sorts of decisions.
9. What is your opinion on how the city has managed and planned for growth during the past five years? I believe that the city staff and elected officials have done a good job of managing and planning for growth internally as well as on the exterior of the city. The many tools that are in place for this process include Horizon 2020, Transportation 2025, area plans, floodplain regulations, and the city's annexation policy.
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? The answer to this question will be determined by the study which is due for completion in the fall of this year. I do believe that the city is at a crossroads. A city cannot thrive on the tax base of residences alone. Commercial properties are taxed at double the rate of residences. The best way for growth to pay for itself is to foster growth within the business and industrial communities. It is also important to accept the fact that we have some serious problems with our aging infrastructure in the older parts of town as well as ever changing regulations at the federal and state level. A growing community will have the opportunity to fund these improvements as well.
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? These kinds of traffic calming devices are very common in our newer neighborhoods and serve two purposes. They slow traffic while at the same time, they keep the traffic moving. The concerns that I hear are in the area of retro-fitting these devices in older, existing areas. It is for that reason, that there is always extensive study as to whether or not these are appropriate for some of our aging and, in some cases, failing intersections.
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? Absolutely. The New Directions Task Force is moving ahead with the plans to hire a coordinator and I have supported that. We have the opportunity to create a destination library that will serve this community for years and years to come. Our library is a center piece of our downtown and needs these improvements to make sure it stays that way.
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? Lawrence is a compassionate community and I am in favor of the financial support that the city has given to the Salvation Army and the Community Drop In Center. The philosophy of both of these agencies that include strategies for helping individuals move out of their current situation is one I certainly support.
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? Downtown Lawrence is a vital part of our community. There are numerous small businesses located downtown that I believe are trying to protect their interests, and I value their opinion. The homeless community is also a part of Lawrence. Implementing an ID system will help the providers of services for the homeless and allow for some accountability within this segment of our population.
15. Do you believe Lawrence has an affordable housing problem, and if so, how would you address it? I believe Lawrence has a housing affordability issue. Homes appreciate on average 5-7% per year, while on the other hand we do not have that kind of growth in jobs and salaries. The Housing Trust Fund has already put forth a plan that could play a key role in addressing this problem. This plan will allow for the City of Lawrence to retain ownership of the land, allowing for low to moderate income people to purchase the home, reducing the cost of the home by approximately 20%. This program has proven to be very successful in other cities, and Lawrence can be the first to implement this in the State of Kansas.
16.Please comment on your fiscal philosophy and whether you would envision the need to raise taxes during your term on the city commission. It has been my intention since the first budget cycle that I participated in, to maintain city services for our population without the need to raise taxes. We have done a very good job of maintaining the mill levy and keeping tax increases to a minimum. It is not possible to say that taxes will absolutely not be raised due to many unforeseen circumstances. We do not know what implications the state and federal budgets will have on Lawrence and those will always have an impact on our budget.
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? Due to the very professional staff in our Mass Transit Department, the ridership of the T has increased consistently since its beginning. One of the most successful ventures has been the purchase of passes by KU students and their increased use of the T. We should continue to monitor the ridership in various parts of town to determine the effectiveness of the system.
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. Eagle Bend Golf Course is a great asset to this Lawrence community. The course offers a place for our citizens to play golf without the additional cost of a private club. It is also necessary to remember that like our outdoor aquatic center, the golf course is very weather dependent, but we should always continue to monitor the costs and benefits of the facility.
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? The City Commission has approved an area plan for 6th and Wakarusa that restricts the largest store at that intersection to 80,000 square feet.
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? fireworks ban? Yes, I did support the ban when it came before the Commission.
21. What's your position on whether and where the South Lawrence Trafficway project should be completed? I continue to support the 32nd Street alignment which has been approved by the Army Corps of Engineers and endorsed by many of the stakeholders in this area. It appears that KDOT does not currently have the funding to complete the project, but it is my feeling that this connection between the Kansas Turnpike and K-10 must be completed.
22. If elected, what would be the top three issues you would seek to address during your term?
1. I will continue to work with our established partners in economic development to allow our existing business to reach their fullest potential and to attract new business to this community that will serve a wide range of citizens. We must also be the state leader in the area of bio-sciences.
2. I will continue to work with city staff as we prepare budgets that keep taxes down, but at the same time deliver city services in an effective and efficient manner. Our citizens expect and deserve that.
3. I remain committed to the process of bringing stakeholders to the table to talk with each other to solve problems. Our vision for Lawrence must include a civil approach to problem solving as well as an understanding and acceptance of differences.