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On the Issues

As Gardner has been at a physical crossroads ever since its founding at the point where the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails divided in frontier times, so it stands at a crossroads today - a crossroads of commerce, identity, and the past vs. the future.

Whether we wish to admit it or not, over the last ten years, Gardner has changed – and it will continue to change in the next ten years, and beyond.  There is no putting the genie back in the bottle, or turning back the clock.  Gardner is, for good or ill, no longer the sleepy farm community of even a decade ago, and we need to responsibly manage the development that will inevitably move into this city going forward.  This development includes the BNSF Intermodal Logistics Hub, which I believe holds great potential benefits for the citizens of Gardnerif the people of this city are listened to.

I believe that over the last several years, a serious disconnect has developed between our elected representatives – at all levels of government – and those that they were supposed to represent.  Too often today, decisions are made by our elected leaders "for our own good," even though they run directly counter to what their constituents want.  This practice needs to stop.  We need leaders that will be independent of special interests – leaders that are responsive and responsible with the trust that the voters place in them.  This is one of several reasons why I am running for City Council.

o   Responsible Development

“We cannot let ourselves be bullied and dictated to by large development interests in the name of ‘progress.’”

Gardner needs to explore ways to encourage “user friendly” commercial development projects that enhance the quality of life of the city, without groveling before big development interests or taking on projects we either cannot afford, or will needlessly compound infrastructure or public works problems.  Responsible, measured commercial development will diversify our tax base and will not put the entire burden of the cost of future infrastructure and services on the shoulders of our residents – a burden that today approaches 85% of all tax revenue.

At the same time, we cannot, as a city, allow ourselves to be bullied and dictated to by large developers in the name of “progress.”  The rights and the collective voice of the people must be respected.  I will serve as a tireless champion of the peoples’ rights to their personal property, and will aggressively fight the misuse of eminent domain and zoning laws as a tool to benefit private business interests.  I believe that we have a master plan for a reason, and that it shouldn’t be ignored or tossed out the window in order to attract large developers to our city.

o   Principled Leadership

“Elected representatives need to remember that it is they who serve their constituents, not the other way around.”

Being an elected representative means that you are the executor of a sacred contract between the people and their government.  The Declaration of Independence states that “…governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  Elected representatives at every level – whether they are city council members, county commissioners, state house and senate members, or US congressmen and senators – must understand that it is they who serve their constituents, not the other way around.

I pledge, as an At-Large candidate for Gardner City Council, that I will honor this sacred contract; that I will listen to and respect the ideas and concerns of our citizens; and that I will work to bring not only responsible, but responsive government to our city.  Our citizens, and future generations who have to live with the decisions we make today, deserve nothing less.

o   Financial Stewardship

“We cannot mistake our good planning in the past for an excuse to stop looking for ways to make all of our city government more efficient.”

Gardner is currently projected to run a $1 million+ budget deficit this year, with additional deficits projected for at least two more years.  I believe that the steps that the City has taken in past years – including putting away substantial amounts of cash into a “rainy day” contingency fund – have allowed us to forgo some of the tough decisions that other cash-strapped municipalities, such as Overland Park and Olathe, have been forced to make.  However, we cannot mistake our good planning for an excuse to stop looking for ways to make all of our city government more efficient.

We must continue to look to create efficiencies and do more with less, and foster smart commercial development that will contribute to the tax rolls, so that we can maintain and grow our strong financial position going forward.

I am very much in favor of streamlining and automating processes in government, going to paperless and web-based solutions where we can, and re-evaluating whether certain administrative processes or departments are duplicated or are even needed.  A significant portion of a business’s expenses go toward compliance with federal, state, and local mandates.  If our city government can do more with less and do it better, we can significantly improve everyone’s bottom lines – without tax increases or service cuts.