• Last modified 2339 days ago (March 28, 2013)


Mayor, school board elections have competition

Staff writer

Peabody is one of the few communities in Marion County where voters will have a choice at the polls on Tuesday.

Two mayoral candidates have filed, incumbent Larry Larsen and challenger Frank Doerrler. Two city council positions will be open and only the incumbents, Tom Schmidt and Janice Woodruff are running.

Three incumbents and two challengers are pursuing the three positions on the USD 398 Board of Education. Shayla Clark, Julia Ensminger, and Barry Peter, are seeking re-election. Challenging them are Travis Foth and Jerrod Gaines. The top three vote getters will take board seats in July. All board positions are at-large positions. The district no longer has assigned areas of representation.

The candidates were asked why they chose to run, what kind of goals they would like to see implemented in the city or school district, and what they think is the biggest issue facing the city or school district and how they work toward a solution.

Questionnaires were not returned by Doerrler, Foth, or Gaines.

City election

Why have you chosen to run?

“My response is easy,” Larsen said. “This is where I live. I have a vested interest in the city. My wife and I have four children in our home that attend our high school. I have owned a business here and I volunteer here.

“The council has started many programs that need to be finished. I would like to be able to continue to serve our city’s future.”

City council member Schmidt said, “I believe I bring some continuity to the position based on past experience and knowledge of identified present and future challenges for the community. This includes the areas of budget, infrastructure, and quality of life.”

Janice Woodruff, also a city council member, said, “Since I thought my first term was really an eye-opening learning experience, I decided I would try it again. We never get too old to learn and, hopefully, be a help.”

What goals or ideas would you like to see implemented?

“I have several goals I would like to see implemented,” said Larsen. “We need to recruit a gas station/convenience store, bring in other new businesses, and show support for our current businesses. I’d like to see our new signs in place from the KDOT grant money we received and we need to continue to replace and repair streets and city infrastructure. We need to continue to keep the mill levy where it is or lower—continue to keep costs down, while providing services we need.”

Woodruff did not address this question.

“My goals would be to balance financial needs and concerns with budget challenges and be fiscally responsible as far as spending and taxes are concerned,” Schmidt said.

What do you feel is the biggest issue facing the city and how would you work toward a solution?

“We need to get community members to believe in themselves and Peabody again,” Larsen said. “We cannot afford to rest on what was—we need to pull together and plan for our future.”

Schmidt thinks the economy is the biggest issue.

“Trying to address the economic needs so we are an active and growing community with a stable or increasing population would top my list,” he said. “This can be done with a joint effort that includes city, school district, and general public.”

“I think the biggest problem we face is probably our aging water and sewer lines,” Woodruff said. “And as much as I hate it, we are going to have to find the money somewhere. Grants would be very helpful.”

School board election

Why have you chosen to run?

“My answer to number one and probably number two is I would like to play an active role in ensuring our education system provides our children with opportunities for a successful future,” said Clark. “Also, I’d like to help build trust between the community and board. I would like to help continue the progress the district has made in curriculum, facilities and staffing, and preparing our students for their next level of education or vocation.”

“I want to retain my position on the board of education because I want continue to be an active participant in the development of our school system,” said Ensminger. “This is Mr. Traxson’s first year with our district and I would like to help achieve the vision he has for our schools.”

Peter said, “I am seeking re-election for several reasons. I’d like serve by giving something back to my community and helping determine what young people need to become a productive part of society.”

“I hope to have a positive impact on the kids and community using the knowledge and skills I learned during my first term on the board,” he added.

What goals or ideas would you like to see implemented?

“I think our administrators have our school district on the right track,” Ensminger said. “We have an amazing staff. I would like to support them in their efforts to develop students who can be successful in their future careers.”

“I think an important goal is to find ways to help our young people acquire the skills and ability to make informed, intelligent decisions as they become young adults,” Peter said. “We will need to make sure our students possess the skills to be employable, whether through technical education programs or college degree courses.”

What do you feel is the biggest issue facing the school district and how would you work toward a solution?

“I think the biggest issue facing schools right now are all the funding cuts,” said Clark. “I would like to be able to help formulate a strategic plan to continue the academic progress the school has made, while dealing with the economic realities that we now face and may very well face more in the future.”

Ensminger and Peter agreed. “The biggest issue our district has is money. We need to try to find creative ways to continue our programs and keep our staff, even though we less financial support from the state,” she said. “We need to find ways to work within the budget so we don’t downgrade our programs or lose more staff.”

“With the governor’s current intentions, school funding will continue to be an issue for smaller districts. We will have to continue doing more with fewer resources,” said Peter. “The board will have to be willing to listen, learn, study, and then engage to make the best decisions possible.

“This will require devoting more time and energy than one evening a month. I am prepared to give the time and energy needed,” he added.

Only Clark and Ensminger had additional comments to make.

“I feel strongly that I can help be a catalyst for new ways of thinking and would be devoted to the position of board member,” Clark said. “I also feel that I could present a fresh outlook on issues facing the district and would be a positive influence on the board.”

“I have two daughters who have gone through the Peabody-Burns school system. Our district has prepared them well for college,” Ensminger said. “We are lucky our staff makes the effort to work so closely with our students, helping them develop their interests and reach their potential.”

Voting will take place Tuesday in Peabody at Peabody Senior Center. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Last modified March 28, 2013