Candidates discuss growth at forum
Eudora's continued growth took center stage at the Eudora Chamber of Commerce's "Meet the Candidates" forum Tuesday night.
The event gave candidates for both the Eudora City Council and the Eudora USD 491 Board of Education the opportunity to speak their mind with one week to go before the general election.
Board candidates Joe Pyle, Greg Neis, Mike Kelso, Belinda Rehmer and Kenny Massey attended. Board candidate Mark Chrislip was unable to attend because of an out-of-town business trip. The six candidates will vie for four open seats.
City council candidates Fred Stewart and Maria Nelson also attended. Council candidate Jeff Peterson was unable to attend because of illness.
Unless a write-in candidate would be successful at the polls, all three candidates running for city council will win seats on the council because they were the only three who filed.
Eudora resident Leo Lauber moderated the event.
After introductions, each candidate had the opportunity to answer questions asked by Lauber and the audience.
When asked why he chose Eudora, Kelso said he decided to live in Eudora after meeting his wife when they were members of the Kansas State University marching band. He also said he wanted to give back to the Eudora community after he received so much support following his bout with cancer.
Massey tackled the issue of growth as it relates to the school district.
He's seen the town change dramatically since he came to town in 1957, he said.
"Dealing with growth judiciously and staying on top of it as best we can to me is the biggest challenge facing the district right now and the board members," Massey said.
Neis told the audience he believed the district was headed in the right direction as guided by the No Child Left Behind Act.
He also used an analogy to describe how he felt the school district has changed since his time in school.
"While I went to school it's like taking a space flight on the space shuttle Discovery ---- that was me going to school," Neis said. "Where we are today is like being on the starship Enterprise generation two."
Pyle told the audience he sees a continued opportunity for improvement within the district.
"I'm gratified, not satisfied," Pyle said.
Rehmer remarked on a different aspect of growth. She told the audience about what she saw when she took a tour of Nottingham Elementary School as part of a community advisory committee for an upcoming bond issue in the district.
"I was appalled, I was amazed and am I ready for the bond issue?" Rehmer said. "I am, and the city of Eudora will be too, when they hear what it is that's really out there, and hear what it is the kids are going through today."
The district is planning an eight-part $40 million to $50 million bond issue in November that would, among other things, build a first- through fifth-grade elementary school building to replace Nottingham as a study center.
City Council candidate Fred Stewart offered his prediction of the city's growth.
"People are going to move to Eudora because we've got a good school system and the government isn't that bad," Stewart said. "It's going to move and head toward De Soto."
Controlling the city's growth is key, Nelson said.
"I think that it's growing really quickly. I wouldn't mind to see it grow faster, but I think it's important to have people in control making sure we're taking positive actions to support that," Nelson said.
An audience member asked the school board candidates to explain how they determined $40 million for the bond issue.
It was part of a long-range plan starting two years ago, Neis said.
During discussion, Kelso said he had a contention.
"It appears that the board went to whoever the financial planner is and said 'We want the most we can get, based on and knowing we don't want to raise mills and then figure what we can build with the number,'" Kelso said.
The district looked at its needs from the very beginning and took those needs to a planner then researched the numbers, he said.
"There's a lot of things we can still do. We don't have the money to do them and we're not going to ask for more," Neis said.
The polls in Eudora will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The election office must receive advance voting ballots by 7 p.m. Tuesday.