Archive for Thursday, January 27, 2005

Council race attracts newcomers

Would-be incumbents won’t seek new terms in upcoming election

January 27, 2005

The Eudora City Council is sure to see some newcomers after the April 5 election.

After Tuesday's filing deadline, Tom Pyle was the only person to have filed for mayor, but four individuals had filed to run for two open spots on the City Council. Lori Fritzel, Joseph Hurla, Tim Reazin and Bill Whitten have each filed for the spots currently held by Rex Burkhardt and Don Durkin. Burkhardt and Durkin both decided not to run for re-election.

Because Pyle is a member of the City Council, an individual will be appointed to the seat he will vacate after the election.

Fritzel has lived in Eudora for more than four years. She is a real estate agent and an active member of the Eudora Chamber of Commerce.

Fritzel said she chose to run for City Council because she wanted to serve the community.

"I have been wanting to find a way to get more involved in the community and it seemed like the perfect opportunity," she said.

Fritzel said the main priority for the Council would be to continue dealing with growth to the community.

Reazin is a stay-at-home dad who has lived in Eudora for six years and has been a volunteer firefighter with the Eudora Fire Department for four years. He has degrees in sociology and criminal justice from Bethany College and is a former supervisor for juvenile corrections at Douglas County Youth Services.

Reazin said he would go into the City Council with an open mind.

"I don't have any preconceived ideas about it," he said. "I just want to go into it with a free mind, not with my own agenda."

Whitten has been a firefighter for 17 years and has run a construction company since 1987. He has lived in Eudora for all but six months of his life.

"I think I could do the city some good with my background in construction and my background in public service," he said.

Whitten said one of his priorities if he was chosen for the Council would be to look into the costs of having all Eudora roads paved with asphalt, rather than using a chip-and-seal method.

Besides his ideas for road improvements, Whitten said he would form his opinions on other city issues as they were presented to the City Council.

"Issues change all the time," he said. "I don't want to go in there and try to strong-arm them. I want to learn from the guys who are in there right now."

Hurla said he wanted to be instrumental in managing growth to the city in the coming years.

"I just saw it as an opportunity to take on a larger role in the community and help guide the community through these next few years in what will probable be some big changes," he said.

He said he would like to see Eudora keep its community feel while brining in more people.

Hurla has lived in Eudora for four years and works in sales in Overland Park.

In an earlier interview, Mayor Ron Conner said he would not be seeking a new term as mayor because of professional obligations that require him to be out of state too often. He said he would consider running for public office again in the future.

Durkin said simply that he was no longer interested in being on the City Council.

Burkhardt explained his reasons for not running for re-election in a letter to The Eudora News.

"It's time for me to take a break and devote some time to my personal and professional life," he wrote.

He said a lot of personal time had been placed in city, recreation and planning commission meetings and other conferences and training sessions, which required that he sometimes having to use his own vacation time from work.

Burkhardt said one concern he had about leaving the Council was that there wouldn't be very many experienced members left. He said he hoped Eudora citizens future would get more involved with city government by attending some of the meetings and staying educated on the city's issues.

"Eudora citizens need to attend more Council meetings, become involved in the issues and, more importantly, in the answers to the issues," he said.

In an interview Burkhardt said his decision was not easy, but that it was time for him to step down.

"It's hard to walk away from it, but I need a break," he said.

Burkhardt said he planned to stay active in city government and that he hoped to return to political office in the future.

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