There are two candidates for the chairman position of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners.
Questions were recently sent to the candidates for the Nov. 6, 2018 election. The answers are unedited.
Born – Furley, Kan., High School – Whitewater, Kan., Emporia State University – Bachelors degree Business Administration-Masters degree Business Education-Blue Key Honor Society member – Distinguished Alumni Award: Business experience -Midwest Trust Co., Board of Directors – A. G. Edwards, Financial Advisor – Metcalf Bank, Board of Directors – Shawnee Mission East, business teacher – Lebo High School, business teacher: elected local government – Chairman, Johnson County BOCC – 4th District Commissioner – Mayor & City Council, Overland Park: Chamber of Commerce boards – Overland Park Chamber – Olathe Chamber – Greater Kansas City Chamber: Local government organizations – Kansas Association of Counties, Board of Directors – National Association of Counties, Board of Directors
I was born and raised in Lee’s Summit, Mo. I have my undergraduate degree from Kansas State University in Marketing and International Business and obtained my MBA in Organizational Management from University of Saint Mary. Johnson County has been my home for nearly 15 years. I have one daughter who graduated from Olathe East High School and she is now in her 3rd year at Colorado State University. I have nearly 20yrs of leadership and management experience in insurance, risk mitigation, and currently working in contract administration for a Medicare advantage company in Johnson County.
Rapid growth at Edgerton’s LPKC has accelerated in 2017. In 2013 the site was 1100 acres total, in 2015 it was 1700 acres. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad intermodal facility, accounts for 460 acres of the total acreage. In 2017 there was almost 11 million square feet of warehouse and distribution space, and it is the number one multi-tenant destination in the nation. However roads leading to the LPKC are not adequate for the current volume of vehicle and truck traffic. At the I-35/Center interchange, traffic backs up, and 191st is rutted; at Waverly and 56 Hwy, the road is graveled and full of potholes. Paving these roads is stymied by lack of communication and cooperation between the county, KDOT, Edgerton and Gardner.—If elected what role could you play in increasing cooperation between entities and make paving these roads a priority?
Eilert – I have met more than once with KDOT and city officials. A new interchange at I-35 and 191st will require state and federal funding. I have always stood ready to facilitate any meeting between the city and county officials to resolve road issues.
Waldrup – The project will continue to grow. I am not sure if the site in inside the Edgerton city limits or incorporated area or unincorporated area. Inside Edgerton, the county would work with Edgerton, if it is unincorporated area; the county and the State are responsible. The county should take the lead and will under my leadership.
County residents complain about long lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and during the last election cycle problems with the county’s new election machines created issues counting votes, especially in the Republican primary contest between Gov. Jeff Colyer and Kris Kobach, current secretary of state. Colyer eventually conceded with less than 150 votes between them.
Although Johnson County BOCC has no direct supervision of DMV offices or the election office, how could you use the chair position to facilitate better service for county residents?
Waldrup – One of my platform points and action items is to do a more effective job creating working relationships with State legislators and leaders to bring back control of some of the areas the county does not today have, like the Election Commissioner’s appointment by the Secretary of State and having more oversight with DMV/Licensing
Eilert – I and other commissioners have had personal conversations with the director of KDOR and members of the Johnson County delegation, as a result, the state has opened a third Johnson county office. Vote tabulating software has been adjusted and certified; it must perform or no vendor payment will be made.
In recent years, there have been complaints statewide from residents regarding fees charged to obtain records/information from government entities – in some cases making obtaining information unaffordable.
Eilert – Citizens who request a minimum of documents are not charged or they are directed to the website which is free. Other requests require reams of documents and there is a page charge. There should be no cap. Waldrup – The policy for record reproduction needs to be revisited and possibly a methodology to access the records online. The policy and process needs to be fair.
As county employees are paid to maintain records for taxpayers, do you support labor fees charged to obtain those records – as long as the request is focused and reasonable? (25 words)
Waldrup – No I do not support high fees for taxpayers records being copied for the taxpayer. These policies are not fair and need to be reviewed and revised.
Eilert – For reasonable requests there is no charge. For requests that require many hours or even days of research there should be a charge.
How would you facilitate greater diversity on the BOCC and in county employment?
Waldrup – All 4 BOCC positions (now male) are being challenged by women. That will only change with the votes from the voters. The county itself has an open hiring policy and has done well bring onboard qualified employees of race and gender diversity. Our current County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson is Native American.
Eilert – Johnson County Government does have a diverse workforce and employment policies support that effort. Our 27 boards and commissions with more than 250 citizens serving come from all backgrounds. I meet with various groups, urging them to become involved. The voters decide who is elected to the BOCC.
Dollars spent locally circulate locally. Does Johnson County government’s purchasing policy prioritize local businesses? Why or why not? (25 words)
Waldrup – As Chairman I would implement local buying preference in every department that purchases for the county. Most cities already follow a local preference buying policy.
Eilert – All local vendors should have access to our website which lists business opportunities.
Purchasing department evaluates product and pricing. Local vendors are included in term & supply contracts.