If independent commission candidate Tom Britain’s last name has a familiar ring to it, it could be because of his mother, Lucille, was a former commission chairman.
Britain, a lifelong county native, is a former Santa Fe Railroad employee and was a postal carrier for 23 years. He once worked for the Marion County Record as a printer’s devil, and worked for a farm implement dealer and as a driller. He attended Wichita State University to study engineering.
Britain is making his first bid for public office.
“I think I’d do a good job, and I’m a glutton for punishment,” Britain said. “I don’t have any conflicts of interest.”
Emergency medical services would be a top priority for Britain.
“That’s an important core service that the county provides,” he said. “It used to be voluntary, but people don’t do that anymore. I think it will take more funding for them.”
Britain tabbed improving roads, particularly gravel ones, as a pressing need.
“It’s not just Marion County, it’s other counties also,” he said. “I’ve driven a million miles of county roads, I truly have. There’s three things to know about gravel roads: Drainage, drainage, drainage.”
Britain said leaning ditches, creating stable road beds, proper crowning, and using harder rock all have to be part of a thoughtful, planned solution. He would be in favor of allowing farmers to work on sections of roads, provided questions about county liability are resolved.
The biggest hurdle to economic development, Britain said, is the high property tax mill rate the county has when compared to surrounding counties. The tax rate discourages businesses from seriously considering moving here, he said.
Britain favors adhering to the property tax lid imposed by the Legislature. While preferring more effective use of funds to asking the public to approve higher taxes, certain projects could merit putting them to a vote.
“That would make my job a lot easier,” he said. “It should be up to the electorate to do that.”
Britain wants county government “to be efficient, effective, and accountable with our services and programs, and work with what we have.” Expenditures and decisions should be reasonable, rational, and responsible, he said.
Having a county administrator would be beneficial to oversee daily operations, Britain said.
“I don’t like micromanaging everything,” he said.
Britain said running as an independent reflects principles of how he would govern.
“If you look up independents, we don’t rely on foreign powers, and we do not rely on support,” he said.