Archive for Thursday, November 11, 2004

Former council member files for mayor

November 11, 2004

As noticed by the first candidate to file for the Basehor mayor's race, it's never too early to start thinking about the next election.

Just two days passed after last week's general election before former Basehor City Council president Chris Garcia paid his $5 filing fee, formally serving notice of his intention to seek the office of mayor on the April 2005 ballot.

"I feel there are changes that need to be made in our local government," said Garcia, who followed through on his June announcement to run for office by filing Thursday at the Leavenworth County Courthouse. "That's why I've decided to run."

Garcia is the first Basehor candidate to arise as an April contender for the mayor's office. Although other names have been mentioned as possible candidates, as of press time Garcia runs unopposed. Two City Council seats currently held by Keith Sifford and Julian Espinoza are also up for grabs (see related story).

Although Garcia is familiar with Basehor city government -- he's also a past member of the Basehor Planning Commission -- he's spent the last several months attending city meetings to re-acquaint himself with current issues.

"I've been staying involved as much as I can," said Garcia, who cited his research of companies bidding on a project to overhaul the city's comprehensive plan as one way he's begun preparing for office.

"It's to my advantage, and to any candidate's advantage, whoever decides to run, to attend those meetings," he said.

Basehor, Garcia said, is at a critical juncture. The issues facing the city's elected officials "are probably the most important issues that we've ever seen before," he said.

"Some of these issues and decisions will have an impact for the next 20 years," Garcia said. "I've always tried to vote for whatever's best for this community."

Without taking shots at the current administration, Garcia pointed to several areas he believes Basehor city government is lacking.

Garcia said tailoring the city's comprehensive plan, which last received a major update in 1996, to today's municipal climate is vital for the city in managing residential and commercial growth.

"It's going to be a 12-month process and if we're going to proceed, we need help from the whole community," he said.

Another area that the mayoral hopeful seeks to improve at City Hall is the communication between the City Council, department heads and the community. "I believe the communication all around needs to get better," he said, adding that as a mayor he would coordinate with local governing bodies such as the Basehor-Linwood School Board and the Leavenworth County Commission, as well as lobby state legislators on the city's behalf.

"We all need to work together to get things done that are good for the community," he said. "It's good to know who people are. You never know when you might need some help.

"I feel that I can move in that position and be able to communicate effectively with the staff, the Planning Commission and the department heads."

While there is no grand design for his campaign, Garcia said he would design his pre-election plans to the same game plan he used when coming to the decision to run for mayor.

"Basically, for now, I'm going to continue to meet informally with people," he said. "I think just talking to people is a good way to get the information out."

Garcia said he expects a crowded field of candidates to be on the ballot come the March primary election. Officially, Basehor voters won't know the complete list until Jan. 25, the deadline for candidates to file for public office.

This isn't Garcia's first attempt at the mayor's office.

In 2001 he ran a last-ditch campaign against Bill Hooker, a current City Council member, who resigned from office the next year. Current mayor Joseph Scherer, then-City Council president, assumed the mayor's position. Garcia ran for the office as a write-in candidate when a felony conviction nixed the re-election bid of then-mayor John Pfannenstiel.

While Hooker won the election, Garcia showed well despite having only two weeks to campaign for the office. Although four years removed from his last campaign, Garcia said he hopes the positive strides made in 2001 will carry over to April of next year.

Garcia, a Basehor resident since 1991, is an operations manager at Elite Electric in Basehor. In addition to four years spent on the City Council and 18 months as a Planning Commission member, he has also served as a past president of the Basehor Chamber of Commerce.

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