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3rd District County Commission candidate John Flower

July 31, 2008

John Flower

John Flower is running in the Aug. 5 Republican primary for Leavenworth County's 3rd District County Commission seat, facing Beverly "Bev" Oroke, Francis Hurla, Dave Taylor, William "Bill" Merkel, Marvin Torneden and Tony Klamm

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Moderator

Good afternoon. This is Estuardo Garcia reporter with The Tonganoxie Mirror, Basehor Sentinel, Lansing Current and Bonner Springs Chieftain. I'll be your moderator for this online chat with John Flower. We have several questions for today's chat, but we're still taking more. Please remember to refresh the page to update the chat. Thank you for joining us Mr. Flower.

John Flower

Good afternoon Estuardo, thank you for hosting the chat this afternoon.

Moderator

Mr. Flower, could you introduce yourself and tell us why you are running for 3rd district commissioner?

John Flower

As you know my name in John Flower. I'm married to Diana and we have two wonderful grown children, Jason & Alexia. They are both married and we have one absolutely beautiful granddaughter, Georgia. Yes, I am just a little prejudice about all of them. Diana & I returned to this area 6 years ago. We're both are graduates of Turner High School.
I've spent over 40 years in business doing everything from picking tomatoes and bailing hay for $.25 an hour, to owning my own business to developing business cases for startup companies then ultimately developing them into multi-million operations. I'm retired now but most of my career was with AT&T Corporate Headquarters. At AT&T I managed large groups of people, in many cases, scattered across the country. My focus was in business operations, business planning, strategic planning and product development. I was responsible for the development and leading teams in developing business cases for new product and company concepts and then insuring their implementation. These were great jobs which gave me real everyday experience on how to develop concepts and effectively develop profitable companies and products. This required me to be involved in all facets of a company operation from dealing with suppliers to running the Board meeting. This experience plus my many local civic activities has prepared me to serve you, as your best County Commissioner choice.

As to why. I've been involved in the community in many ways since moving back 6 years ago. I've come to see my previous experience and background has and should be used to help the County. The county is entering a time where my experience in developing long term plans in and dealing with the day to day activities will be critical to holding down taxes and improving the economy and quality of life for Leavenworth County citizens. During these last six years I've been able to produce results and forge relationships with a number of people to improve the quality of life in southern Leavenworth County. I found I derived great pleasure in these activities.
I've involved myself in both county and local government. In this involvement I found I could use my experience and background to product positive results. I felt I should use my talents to serve the people of Southern Leavenworth County. I serve as Chairman of the Basehor Planning and Zoning Commission. I am also treasurer of the Basehor Community Library and help lead the library to successfully passing an almost $3 million bond issue for the new Basehor Community Library. If you haven't been by to see it please do, it's one of the finest in the state of Kansas. I'm also involved in my Church and was co chair of a recent successful capital campaign to help pay off our debt and expand our outreach programs. Bottom line, I think my experience, proven leadership, zest for life, commitment and willingness to serve fulltime as your County Commissioner places me in high consideration to serve you as your next County Commissioner.

Moderator

Thank you Mr. Flower. Here is the first question.

bob

With Leavenworth County's daily operations revolving around a fleet and transportation, what is your opinion on how to control rising fuel prices and rising outsourcing cost with its fleet? Also with its operations revolving around fleet operations, why do you think Lv. Co. is one of the last Govt. agencies without a fleet manager?

John Flower

I think there are a number of options available to us to control our use and price of fuel. The first is to impress on all County employees the need to conserve. Making sure each mile is a necessary mile. Second, is to scour the budget to detect where money can be gleaned to assist in paying for the increase in fuel costs. Currently the County buys gas under a bulk contract which saves us money. In addition, we could look at buying gas on a futures contract. This alternative looked better a few weeks ago when gas was on a steep rise and points out the frailty of playing in the futures market.
In addition we must look for new sources of revenue to help with ever increasing cost of providing service. As you know it's not just fuel cost going up its all goods and services are going up. Thus we can only cut back the budget to a certain point to where it could be hard to provide simply the basic services. We need to look for new economic growth which is compatible with our County and produces additional tax dollars. We need new business which offer places to work or purchase goods. Place like light commercial, grocery store or pharmacy which produce multiple tax dollars from real estate taxes to sales tax which will help offset and offer an alternative to increasing the mill levy.
One should never forget though to constantly be on the watch for where improvements in operations can mean large savings in spending.

As to the fleet management question, while I've not given specific thought to a fleet management system, my approach would be the same. I'd look at the numbers and determine if it could be done for less by jobing in out or if better done in house. The analysis would not only include cost buy also the ultimate cost. Theses are two very different things. I'm sure some of us have purchased a product we ffeel we got a deal on only to find out the maintance cost were much higher than the good price we received. So again it's a business decision and should be treated as one.

Moderator

Thank you.

houf123

In recent forums, you claimed to be "instrumental" in getting the new Basehor Library bond passed. However you have at the same time vowed to "control" property taxes. How do you explain this contradiction?

John Flower

Your welcome.

John Flower

Great question. Citizens of the Basehor Community Library wanted a new library in fact they voted overwhelmingly to approve the bond issue which built out new library. This is an example of where there was not an arbitrary decision by a Board without input from the citizens. Had the citizens not wanted the new library I would not have supported its building. Under my leadership we reduced the amount of the bond as well as the terms of the bond and reduced the amount of taxes required to build the new library. My business background uniquely qualifies me to accept the challenges of the County Commissioner's job. I have dealt with budgets and department head wish list for over 30 years and know how to manage a budget which in the case of the County leads to real estate's taxes. Help me bring sound fiscal understanding to our County by voting for me on Aug. 5.

Moderator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the same user.

houf123

You have proposed to limit "urban sprawl". In Leavenworth County, the allowing of subdividing into 10 acre lots has destroyed thousands of acres of productive agriculture ground. What do you plan to do to preserve what little agriculture ground we have left in the southern part of the county?

John Flower

This is truly a problem if left unchecked. The County has recently completed a Comprehensive Plan. As a part of the Comp. Plan there are recommendations regarding the protection of farmland as well as green space so we don't invade and endanger our rural heritage. Part of stemming urban sprawl is to build close to the existing town areas and where infrastructure is existing or is cost effective to make available. This is prudent use of tax payer's money both from an initial cost bases as well as ongoing maintenance. This approach should not be misconstrued as anti-growth quite the contrary it stimulates growth where appropriate while being fiscally responsible.

Moderator

Mr. Flower, what is the No. 1 action the commission can take to improve economic development?

John Flower

Economic development is truly priority number one for the County. The reason for this is twofold; first is particularly in Southern Leavenworth County we need jobs and retail services to meet our needs. The second reason is this is one of the main ways we are going to be able to provide services throughout the County without depending on the residential real estate tax increases. The number 1 action I would initiate is to gain a cooperative effort between the County, City and businesses to present a common message and cooperative effort to build the County as a good place to live and for business to locate. The County currently supports two economic development organizations. The two are the Leavenworth County Port Authority and Leavenworth County Development Corporation. These two organizations are charged with bringing new industry to Leavenworth County. I have been attending their meetings for several months during this time the results of a survey LCDC commissioned were announced. The survey confirmed there were specific issues hindering economic growth in Leavenworth County. Without going into great detail the survey confirmed the County has needs in infrastructure as well as a need for cooperation across all entities in the County. As Commissioner I will work to bridge communications within the County to start to implement the recommendations of the survey in cooperation with government and private business.

John Flower

Economic development is truly priority number one for the County. The reason for this is twofold; first is particularly in Southern Leavenworth County we need jobs and retail services to meet our needs. The second reason is this is one of the main ways we are going to be able to provide services throughout the County without depending on the residential real estate tax increases. The number 1 action I would initiate is to gain a cooperative effort between the County, City and businesses to present a common message and cooperative effort to build the County as a good place to live and for business to locate. The County currently supports two economic development organizations. The two are the Leavenworth County Port Authority and Leavenworth County Development Corporation. These two organizations are charged with bringing new industry to Leavenworth County. I have been attending their meetings for several months during this time the results of a survey LCDC commissioned were announced. The survey confirmed there were specific issues hindering economic growth in Leavenworth County. Without going into great detail the survey confirmed the County has needs in infrastructure as well as a need for cooperation across all entities in the County. As Commissioner I will work to bridge communications within the County to start to implement the recommendations of the survey in cooperation with government and private business.

Moderator

We have time for one more question.

houf123

You have used the word "intelligent growth", which in many communities (such as Lawrence) has meant limiting access of businesses and industry with disasterous results. How do you propose to "control" taxes while practicing this "intelligent growth" policy?

John Flower

My use of the phrase is we will develop where it makes sense for us as described above. Growth at any cost is not good for anyone. You must assure you are developing in harmony with the surrounding area and the wishes of the current land owners. This doesn't have to be an adversarial relationship. In fact it should be done in partnership with a win win solution for all. Through this approach you have good long term growth and relationships built where all become part of the community not just a short term user. The foundation of developing a complete long term growth plan has been provided by the County's recently completed a new Comprehensive Plan. I would work with the other Commissioner to aggressively move forward in developing this long term growth plan. The County Comprehensive Plan does a great job of outlining land use throughout the County. This includes preservation of farmland and natural green ways. In addition it denotes where it makes sense to develop new homes and businesses. This Plan will help guide the County forward with the confidence a decision made today will be the right ones when viewed years from now. The other aspect of this Plan is we will be able to aggressively pursue the type of businesses we want not be reacting to what happens to show up at our door whether we want it or not. A step forward in controlling our own destiny which I support and will work hard toward achieving.

Moderator

Mr. Flower, thank you for participating in this chat with us. Is there anything else you would like to say about yourself or your candidacy for the commission seat? I would also like to remind the readers that our next chat will be held at 5 p.m. We will be welcoming Connie O'Brien, who is a candidate for the 42nd District State Representative.

John Flower

Yes. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to provide my view on many issues which are critical for the County. Leavenworth County has a challenging and bright future. I want to lend my experience and common sense style of management to help us become all we can be. The job of the County Commissioner (CC) is not a two day a week job where you simply show up and make a few decisions. The role of the County Commissioner is more than just taking care of day-to-day administrative business. The role of a CC is to set a solid foundation for the future. To plan ahead for the needs of the County and its citizens so they have services such as water, sewers, roads and an environment which enhances their quality of life. I believe my passion for Leavenworth County coupled with my experienced leadership skills and business acumen will allow Leavenworth County to deal with today challenges and grow seamlessly into the future. Thank you for allowing me to share with my fellow citizens my dreams and passion.

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