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Public forum is 2 p.m. Sunday

There are four candidates in two races vying for two positions on the board of Marion County Commission.

In District 2, which includes Marion and residents east and north of Marion, incumbent Republican candidate Dan Holub of rural Marion is seeking a second term. He is being challenged by former Marion County Public Works Director James Herzet, of rural Marion. Herzet is a Democrat.

Incumbent Republican candidate Randy Dallke of Peabody also is seeking a second term as a representative of District 3. He is being challenged by Democrat Aaron Allen of rural Florence.

The third district includes Peabody, Florence, Burns, and residents north of those cities.

A public forum will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at USD 408 Performing Arts Center, Marion. All four candidates will be given an opportunity to state their platforms and answer questions.

Following is answers to a questionnaire that was given to the candidates.

Second commission district

James Herzet

1) Why do you want to be elected to the Marion County Commission?

Herzet: “Concerns about the direction the present board is taking Marion County.”

2) What do you believe your purpose is as a member of the commission?

Herzet: “A commissioner must exercise judgment and discretion on many subjects. The principal duty of a board of county commissioners is passing judgment or making decisions.”

3) Do you support a new jail? Why? If you do not support a new jail, what plans would you support regarding the operations of the county jail, sheriff’s department, and communication’s department?

Herzet: “First I would let the voters decide on the jail question. Then we would have to prepare to make some decisions based on what the voters say.”

4) Background information and qualifications.

Herzet: “Lifelong resident of Marion County. Graduated Marion High School, Leadership Marion County, Marion County public works director.”

5) Personal information (residency, spouse, family, etc.).

Herzet: “Married 35 years with two children. Live in eastern Marion County.”

Dan Holub

1) Why do you want to be re-elected to the Marion County Commission?

Holub: “There were several things I hoped to accomplish when I ran the first time. Those items included economic development, infrastructure improvements, loosening of zoning requirements, and the implementation of revenue sources available to Marion County other than strictly taxes. All of these were identified in the county strategic plan.

“County economic development has been moving forward after establishing a position and hiring a county economic development administrator. Thanks to her effort and those of other individuals, most of whom are volunteers serving on various councils, gains have been made. We have witnessed new businesses opening as well as expansion of existing businesses.

“Vigorous efforts in tourism that bring people to Marion County have resulted in a positive economic impact on our county and who knows what could result from this exposure. For instance, many people have moved and built homes here who first came to Marion County for our county lake and reservoir.

“Some infrastructure improvements have been accomplished in the area of emergency services with more in progress. Getting rid of trash is becoming more and more costly and the county is shopping for some place closer to haul trash in order to reduce shipping costs (we have no control over shipping fees). We are exploring some form of recycling to reduce tonnage and thus tipping fee costs. The roads issue has been very difficult primarily because of significant increases in the costs of fuel and materials, as well as weather-related problems.

“The zoning board and zoning administrator have developed new acreage requirements that were identified in the strategic plan as an area of concern as well as several other areas. During recent strategic plan hearings in communities, no further areas of concern were identified. Additional improvements still are in the works.

“Additional revenue sources have been an extremely hard nut to crack. Some possibilities have surfaced over the years (landfill, casino, and cabins at the county lake) and have been considered but did not have enough public support.

“The new jail issue with additional beds being included to rent out is another attempt to gain revenue to offset expenses currently being born solely by tax dollars. One positive note is our park and lake director has significantly increased lake revenue which have allowed him to make improvements at the lake without the expenditure of tax dollars.

“The answer to the question as to why I want to be re-elected is I still would like the opportunity to pursue the goals described above.”

2) What do you believe your purpose is as a member of the commission?

Holub: “My purpose as a commissioner is to conduct the business of government by working closely with other elected county officials and county department heads to ensure compliance of all federal and state governing statutes and all citizens are being treated in a fair and equitable manner. I also believe a person in government service must be available and willing to deal with issues that are brought to him/her.”

3) Do you support a new jail? Why? If you do not support a new jail, what plans would you support regarding the operations of the county jail, sheriff’s department, and communication’s department?

Holub: “I strongly support a new jail as currently presented. I will not go into various details of the project since they are being widely published. However I would like to ask the voters when considering this issue to look at the future. When Marion County said “no” to a landfill, we condemned ourselves to paying costs associated with getting rid of our trash, and we have no options except to pay ever-increasing costs with tax dollars with no hope of relief. Without the extra cells/beds for rent to help offset our jail costs, like our trash, our only option will be to levy every-increasing taxes to pay the bills including conceivably charges from other counties for housing our inmates who managed to make the “rent-a-cell” concept work.”

4) Background information and qualifications.

Holub: “I am a graduate of Centre High School. I attended Emporia State University for two years and then enlisted in the U.S. Navy. I retired after 20 years of service as a Lieutenant Commander, and moved back to Marion County. Since moving back, I was appointed by Governor Joan Finney and served four years on the State Sorgum Commission, was elected to a two-year term on USD 408 board of education, and the past four years as a county commissioner.”

5) Personal information (residency, spouse, family, etc.).

Holub: “I currently reside four miles north of Marion and have a wife and four children.”

Third commission district

Aaron Allen

1) Why do you want to be elected to the Marion County Commission?

Allen: “I want to be elected to the Marion County Commission because I am dedicated to making Marion County a better place to live. I do not believe that the current commission has been looking out for the best interest of the people of Marion County. I want to lower property and sales taxes for current and future Marion County residents.

“I will bring a fiscally conservative view to every issue in front of the commission during my tenure. I want to make Marion County a prime location for growing and starting businesses. This job growth will reverse our decreasing population and help us to afford the solution to our growing road and bridge, jail, and department leadership problems.”

2) What do you believe your purpose is as a member of the commission?

Allen: “I am not seeking this position for personal gain. My decisions will be based on what is in the best interest of the residents of the county. I believe it is my purpose to efficiently and responsibly spend taxpayers’ money on items that will ultimately benefit the county as a whole.

“I believe that the purpose of the commission is to provide leadership, guidance, and oversight to all county departments and personnel. We must instill a customer-friendly atmosphere that encourages participation in government by constituents and employees.”

3) Do you support a new jail? Why? If you do not support a new jail, what plans would you support regarding the operations of the county jail, sheriff’s department, and communication’s department?

Allen: “No, I do not support the current plan for building a new jail. I do not believe it is in the best interest of Marion County to go into a 20-year, $8 million-debt in today’s financial market. I believe we need to separate the communications issue from the inmate security issue.

“I will develop and implement a financially feasible communications plan that will improve and secure the Marion County 911 system. I will work with the sheriff to develop a short-range plan (one to five years) that combines in-house confinement and out-sourcing of inmates (if needed). During the execution of the short-range plans, we will develop long-range building, operations, and financing plans (five to 25 years) that will solve any jail overcrowding issues without incurring a large amount of debt which forces Marion County residents into paying higher taxes.”

4) Background information and qualifications.

Allen: I am currently the general manager of an aerospace manufacturing facility in Cottonwood Falls. I have grown the business from 20 employees in 2002 to 55 employees in 2008. I have a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Austin Peay State University and will finish my master’s degree in business administration next year from Emporia State University.

“I also served as a Captain in the U.S. Army with the 5th Special Forces Group. I received numerous awards for my combat and peace operations in Afghanistan, Africa, Jordan, and Korea. I believe that both my educational training and leadership skills make me well qualified for overseeing the business operations of Marion County.”

5) Personal information (residency, spouse, family, etc.).

Allen: I was born and raised in Columbus. I have been a resident of Marion County for almost five years. My wife, Angela, and I live on a small farm north of Florence. We have been married for 16 years and have three children — Kennedy, Tori, and Wyatt.

6) Other information, comments.

Allen: I believe that there are a lot of communities in our county that have been under-represented in the past. I support increasing the county commission from three members to five to create better representation for all constituents. I will push for a change from workday commission meetings to evening meetings in a larger location in order to facilitate more community involvement.”

I support developing a customer service feedback system that allows every constituent to rate our county employees’ quality of service. This system will provide us a better method for evaluating county employees on their job performances. I will eliminate all closed sessions that are not protected by law. This will bring more transparency and trust to our commission. I have a lot of ideas to bring positive change to our Marion County Commission and would appreciate your vote.”

Randy Dallke

1) Why do you want to be re-elected to the Marion County Commission?

Dallke: “There have been some projects that have been started and I would like to see them to the end which includes a new jail.

“The commission has brought issues to the public to vote on which included the casino issue and other issues that will affect the Marion County lifestyle.

“The next issue is solid waste. A the rate we’re going, we’re going to have to raise homeowners’ and businesses’ solid waste fees. We need to look to the future.

“The county needs to be as efficient as possible. We have found in the last term that some things have not been very efficient and we’re making some changes toward efficiency and progress.”

2) What do you believe your purpose is as a member of the commission?

Dallke: “My purpose is to promote Marion County and take care of issues in my elected district. Also to be one of the three members of the county commission that looks at what affects Marion County and make changes to affect the county in positive ways.”

3) Do you support a new jail? Why? If you do not support a new jail, what plans would you support regarding the operations of the county jail, sheriff’s department, and communication’s department?

Dallke: “The reason that I will support a new jail facility is that our current facilities are outdated. There are some safety issues with our current facilities. As we see in surrounding areas in Kansas, jails that have built have at the least been able to put money back into the system for upkeep. Taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill for all of the expenses.

“One neighboring county is spending $120,000 to $130,000 per year to take care of their prisoners. That’s money that’s goes out of the county and will never return to the county.”

4) Background information and qualifications.

Dallke: “I am a lifetime resident of Marion County and have worked on numerous volunteer groups including being a founding member of the Peabody-Burns Recreation Commission.

“After being a city employee for 23 years, I wondered how I could help with my experiences and was elected to the Peabody City Council and then elected as mayor. Through those terms as a member of the city government, I learned there are things that can be improved if we get out there and work for it which is the same in county government.”

5) Personal information (residency, spouse, family, etc.).

Dallke: “I graduated from Peabody High School and married a local, hometown girl who also graduated from Peabody High School. My family includes a daughter and her family who live in Peabody and son who is deceased.

“The Dallke family has been in the Peabody area for generations. I have been employed by ATMOS Energy for 22 years and work within the county.”

6) Other comments, information.

Dallke: “I would like to thank the voters who have given me the privilege to serve a term as a county commissioner. I hope they have followed my voting and saw how I voted on certain issues and can form a good opinion of me. I will strive to make Marion County grow.”

Last modified Oct. 15, 2008

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