Mayoral candidates see management of growth as a prioity for city’s future
Only two of the four mayoral candidates attended a public forum on Tuesday.
Candidates John Pfannenstiel and Randy Cunningham attended the event that was sponsored by the Basehor Chamber of Commerce at the Board of Education meeting room.
Both Pfannenstiel and Cunningham answered several questions from the audience as well as three questions that were posed by the moderator Susan Guy.
Candidates Dennis Nichols and Bill Hooker were unable to attend the event due to prior commitments. Both candidates had prepared written statements answering each of the questions submitted to them by Guy.
Pfannenstiel addressed the concerns regarding his trial early in the evening and said that Basehor voters should give him the benefit of the doubt.
"I have been accused of committing felonies, and I have plead not guilty to those felonies. I have not yet been given an opportunity to show that I am not guilty," Pfannenstiel said. "I have worked hard for the citizens of Basehor. I have devoted the last 12 years of my life to serving this community in city government. The only thing that I ask from the citizens of Basehor in exchange for the services that I have given is the benefit of the doubt for just a little while longer. In the end, you can take the jury's word for it."
The first question of the evening was whether the candidates were in favor of possible annexation, particularly the Falcon Lakes subdivision.
The Falcon Lakes Subdivision is a 550-acre tract along K-7 Highway, a mile north of Leavenworth Road. The project would include 500 residential lots and public golf course.
In his statement read by Sandy Grimes, Hooker did not say whether he was in favor of annexation, but said the effects it would have on the community should determine the need for annexation.
"Annexation is commendable, but should be done in a precise and methodical manner only after consulting with school officials, law enforcement, fire department and city officials to determine the long- range effects on each of these entities," Hooker said.
All three of the other candidates were in favor of annexation and Cunningham said that Basehor needs annexation for taxes and to add more services to residents.
"I think we need annexation for tax purposes and for services," Cunningham said. "We need to think about the citizens and the services that we want to offer and we could pay for those services through annexation and that extra income."
Pfannenstiel said that the city council has already developed annexation plans .
"The plan says that which is urban ought to be municipal. That when a plan is developed in an urban fashion it ought to come into the city," Pfannenstiel said. "Bill Hooker has stated that he sees no gain to the annexation of Falcon Lakes. Based on my personal experience with Bill Hooker, and I would say it if he was here, was that I think Bill gets his exercise by jumping to conclusions. There are a tremendous number of benefits to the annexation of Falcon Lakes."
The second question was how the candidates would stimulate economic growth in Basehor.
Nichols said that Basehor stimulates its own economic growth by being a desirable place to live. He also said that the proximity of the new Kansas Speedway will bring new opportunities to the city.
"As I have stated before, there will be new opportunities with the new race track," Nichols said. "I just think that we have to use careful consideration concerning what kinds of businesses we try to attract to Basehor."
Cunningham said that Basehor is at a crossroads and is facing a growth pattern that can't be stopped. He said that he would do a new business climate study that would cut paperwork and red tape.
"We need to make it easier for businesses to do business. We need to make our city more efficient and better focused on the real needs of our residents," Cunningham said.
Hooker said that he would explore the possibility of locating businesses that would be most beneficial to Basehor.
"The businesses I would be in favor of are restaurants, doctor and dental offices, a local funeral home and dry cleaners or (a) laundry mat," Hooker said.
Pfannenstiel said the city is already doing the necessary things to promote economic growth.
"We are working to get the infrastructure in place to support economic development, and we are working to get tax incentives in place that would attract businesses," he said.
The third question of the night was whether the city of Basehor needs a full-time city administrator.
Pfannenstiel said the city council explored the idea of hiring a city manager a couple of years ago.
"We have developed a five-year plan that anticipates the future needs of Basehor. We have concluded that sometime in the next five years, we will probably need to provide some form of full-time administration of city government," Pfannenstiel said.
Cunningham said the city does need a full-time administrator to manage the future growth and to keep the businesses Basehor currently has.
" We need a city manager," Cunningham said. "We need strong leadership on a day-to-day basis so that we can control these things. A good city manager is not going to cost us money, he is going to pay his own salary."
Nichols said that Basehor does not need a city administrator and doesn't believe there needs to be another position that takes money away from the budget that could be used elsewhere.
Hooker agreed with Nichols and said that Basehor does not need a city manager at this time.