Archive for Thursday, February 8, 2001

Four residents vie for council seats

February 8, 2001

Four residents have filed for the two Eudora City Council seats that will be vacant when the terms of council members Pat Dardis and Rex Burkhardt come to an end this year.

After 12 years on the council, Dardis chose not to seek re-election. Burkhardt, on the other hand, said he hopes to gain a second term.

Burkhardt said his race is fueled by his love of serving the city. He's seen a lot change in his first term, he said, mainly due to Eudora's growth.

"I think probably a good term is fast-paced," Burkhardt said. "At the start of my term, there wasn't a whole lot of development or a lot of issues. Now we have new issues at every meeting, a lot of which are surprises."

Burkhardt said the city's most important accomplishment during his first term was the construction of the city's wastewater treatment plant. He said the city wasn't on "the best of terms" with the state, which made the project a difficult one. The council also faced some local opposition as many residents complained of the higher water rates put in place to finance the project. The city's water rates increased three times in the four years Burkhardt has been on the council.

"Figuring out how to adjust the rate increase was another matter too," Burkhardt said. "That caused a lot of uproar."

On the down side, Burkhardt said poor communication between council members and city departments has been a problem for the city. However, he hopes a solution is around the corner.

Burkhardt said, according to the Kansas League of Municipalities, if a city's population goes over 5,000 it is defined as second-class city. With the new designation, the council could vote to hire a city manager - a position he feels is necessary for Eudora. A city manager would carry out day-to-day business for the mayor and the council.

"I think we need a professional in that position," Burkhardt said. "We're big enough that I think we need the position."

Despite the problems, Burkhardt said he is still dedicated to serving the city. If elected, he hopes to continue planning for Eudora's growth, first by looking at the city's roads.

"We need to prioritize any capital improvements," Burkhardt said. "We know 14th Street is going to have to be reconstructed, probably 15th Street too, after the construction is over with."

Candidate Robin Ross would also like to see the city work on its streets.

Ross has lived in Eudora since 1994 and has served on the Eudora Board of Appeals since May 1999. She ran for a seat on the council in 1998 but was defeated. Through her experience on the appeals board, Ross said she has learned a great deal about city procedures. She said she has learned even more by regularly attending city council and Eudora Planning and Zoning Commission meetings.

"I've gone to a lot of them, yes," Ross said. "I've been going to those meetings for three years."

Ross said she would also like to see improvements made to Eudora's older parks. In addition, she is also concerned with the city's rapid growth and would like to see better management, she said.

"Look what's going on with the high school," she said. "We're outgrowing the new high school already and it's a new school. It's kind of scary. We're growing too fast. We're ready for it, yet we're not."

Ross said Eudora voters should choose her for one reason she'll listen.

"For the citizens of Eudora, I'd like to see the town be a great place to live," she said.

If elected, Ross said she would push for work on city streets, including improvements to 12th Street.

"There are a lot of them that need some sort of work," she said. "They work on them, but there are just some basic improvements that need to be done."

The third candidate, Doug Woods, agreed that work on Eudora's infrastructure should be a priority of the next city council. He said the council should also look into the quality of Eudora's water.

"In my house, if I try to wash my car and don't use the water softener, it comes out dirtier than before," Woods said. "A lot of people in Eudora have to use a water softener."

Woods has worked for the Douglas County Sheriff's Department for 14 years. His duties have included patrol and drug enforcement. The three-year Eudora resident is currently a detective.

Getting a running start for the April election, Woods has started posting signs around town and began an e-mail account, dougwoods2001@yahoo.com, for voters to contact him. Though the council race is small, he believes it's not to be taken lightly.

"The last few elections I've been here, it doesn't seem like anybody takes it seriously," Woods said. "If you're going to do something, do it right."

Beverly Koerner will also be on the ballot. The Eudora News featured an article about her on Jan. 18. The filing deadline for a position was Jan. 23.

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