Archive for Thursday, March 31, 2005

Election nears for Eudora City Council candidates

March 31, 2005

Eudora's candidates for city government appeared at a forum March 23 to state their objectives and ask for votes.

Candidates for the two open City Council positions are Lori Fritzel, Tim Reazin and Bill Whitten. Joseph Hurla is registered as a candidate but has withdrawn from the race.

Tom Pyle, a current Eudora city councilman, is running officially unopposed for the office of mayor. However, Grady Walker has recently emerged as a write-in candidate for the position. See related story, page 7A.

The candidate forum was the first of its kind in Eudora and was sponsored by the Eudora Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Leo Lauber moderated the forum. Candidates were given five minutes each to introduce themselves and to make a few comments on the state of the city before fielding questions from the moderator and the audience.

Lori Fritzel has lived in Eudora for five years and is a real estate agent. She said that although she did not have previous city government experience, her concern for the community qualified her for the position. She said the governmental part could be learned.

"You just have to have a compassion for the community, honesty, a willingness to listen and a proactive approach," she said.

Fritzel said she would like to make downtown beautification a priority and to get dilapidated downtown buildings in condition to be rented, which would accommodate commercial growth. Fritzel said she would also like to explore the possibilities of subsidies or tax abatements for new businesses.

Fritzel said she would attempt to get more people interested and involved in city government and would promote a positive attitude toward growth.

Fritzel, whose husband is a Eudora developer, said she was in favor of creating benefit districts for new developments as long as they were carefully crafted and fair to the future homeowners.

The creation of a benefit district would require future homeowners in residential developments to pay for the necessary utility extensions and improvements through a tax assessment. Fritzel said agreed with the concept, "as long as it's not one group paying the bill for everyone."

Reazin has lived in Eudora for seven years. He earned degrees in criminology and sociology from Bethany College and was formerly employed by Douglas County Youth Services. He is a stay-at-home dad and a volunteer firefighter with the Eudora Fire Department.

Reazin said he entered the race with no agenda, preferring to keep an open mind about issues facing the city, but said he was supportive of encouraging growth within the city.

"I do believe in responsible and smart growth," he said.

Reazin said he would like to see the city keep a close eye on aging infrastructure as the city grows.

"We're not keeping up with the growth," he said.

Whitten is a full-time firefighter with a Kansas City area fire department. He has lived in Eudora for 40 years and has been a volunteer firefighter with the Eudora Fire Department for 11 years.

Whitten said he would encourage the city to work cooperatively with the School District for facilities and other needs and to "keep tax dollars down if we can."

Tom Pyle has lived in Eudora since 1959. Five of his seven children live in Eudora and many of his grandchildren are in Eudora schools, he said. He has served on the Eudora City Council for a total of 22 years, though not continuously.

Pyle said his priority was always whatever he thought was best for the community, and though no one else had filed to run for mayor, he would like "a vote of confidence."

"I do want the job," he said.

Pyle said two of the greatest needs to the city of Eudora were to continue work on Kansas Highway 1061 and to entice new business along Kansas Highway 10. He suggested that city leaders consider commercial and light industrial growth near the city's east K-10 interchange at 2300 Road?????? Recently city leaders have been considering plans for an interchange at Winchester Road to accommodate growth in western Eudora.

"I think we could entice businesses easier if we could bring people in at the east side of Eudora," Pyle said, noting a closer proximity to Kansas City.

Pyle also brought up the issue of the next city administrator, saying he would like the job description to give the future administrator less authority than the previous administrator was given.

Polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.