One wants to bring more jobs to Douglas County. The other wants to bring more money into the county’s coffers by taxing Kansas Athletics.
Those are the key issues being raised by candidates in the Douglas County Commission 1st District race.
Incumbent Mike Gaughan, a Democrat, is running against Republican Arch Naramore. Both live in Lawrence.
In 2009, Gaughan, who is Attorney General Steve Six’s campaign manager, was appointed by a Democratic committee to fill the commission seat vacated by Charles Jones.
Gaughan said he wants to help position Douglas County so it comes out ahead of the economic recovery.
“The two budgets that we passed during my time have been very challenging experiences, which is why I am eager to kind of see this time through,” Gaughan said.
This summer, Gaughan was one of two commissioners to approve a $69 million budget, which included a tax increase. The budget also allotted $350,000 for heritage and open space preservation and $350,000 for economic development.
To bring more jobs to the area, Gaughan said, the county needs to start partnering with the school district and university institutions to develop training programs for the local work force. He also wants the county to be more proactive in attracting employers.
“Building in our budget an amount for (economic development) is a way to get out in the front end rather than playing catch-up every time something comes our way,” Gaughan said.
Naramore, a Republican, is a former co-owner of Kansas Key Press. In 2004 he ran against Sam Brownback in the Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat. Naramore received 13 percent of the vote and Brownback 87 percent.
For the past three years, Naramore has served as one of three directors on the Douglas County Drainage District.
The main reason Naramore is running for county commissioner is to give voters an option.
“At least let’s have a race,” Naramore said. “I think you ought to at least have the people vote.”
Naramore’s main talking point is finding a way to revoke Kansas Athletics Inc.’s nonprofit status.
“My biggest issue is that Memorial Stadium and Allen Fieldhouse are not being taxed,” Naramore said. “When you have six people deciding to give someone $3 million, it’s not a charity.”
Taxing KU’s athletic ventures, Naramore said, would have prevented the county from raising everyone else’s property taxes to cover a $1 million shortfall this year.
“I think the county ought to be able to have a nonprofit status revoked,” he said.
Pam Madl, Douglas County assistant county administrator, said that a tax-exempt status is established through the state, not the county.