Archive for Thursday, June 8, 2006

Commission race attracts attention

June 8, 2006

It appears at least two Republicans will vie for the Leavenworth County Commission seat held by Don Navinsky -- forcing a primary election runoff.

So far, only one Democrat has filed for the commission post, Ed Sass, who is the county's director of solid waste and noxious weeds.

Sam Maxwell III, Leavenworth, has filed for the first district seat, and J.C. Tellefson, who lives just west of Leavenworth, plans to file. The deadline for candidates to file is noon Monday. The primary will be held Aug. 1, and the general election is set for Nov. 7. Commissioners are paid $44,877 annually.

"I plan to file tomorrow," Tellefson said, when contacted Tuesday morning by The Sentinel.

This will be the 52-year-old Tellefson's second run for county commission. Four years ago, he lodged an unsuccessful challenge to Navinsky, a Democrat.

But that was four years ago. And Tellefson says his views have changed -- largely because the county commission has changed. Tellefson said he's been pleased during the past two years with the three-member commission, which in 2004 gained two new members -- Dean Oroke and Clyde Graeber.

He said the major issues are ones tied to growth -- particularly roads and bridges in the southern portion of the county.

"The turnpike interchange is going to be an important issue," he said. "At any given time, one false move can cause the thing to go askew. And we need to be cognizant of that and choose our words well and choose our plan well and make sure that everyone who is impacted is consulted and we come to a resolution."

Tellefson said he's a fiscal conservative. He, however, does not believe in far-reaching imminent domain powers.

"I don't think that just because we want to improve the economy that we should pull in with an absolute heavy hand and we should take land away," he said. "That said, there will be some times when we have to do that.

"I'm a capitalist. Though I don't like the way the Godfather did it -- make them an offer that they can take. Compensate them."

Tellefson said he hadn't planned to run. But he changed his mind when Navinsky, a 12-year commission veteran from Easton, decided not to seek re-election and several people asked Tellefson to run.

"I have the time, and I have the passion, and I think I can do a very good job," Tellefson said.

Four years ago, Tellefson was a stockbroker. He since has closed his office and now is on the staff at Reveille Homes in Leavenworth, a halfway house for homeless veterans.

"I have a tremendous amount of flexibility," he said, adding, "My wife says I should spend more time out of the house. She likes me to give other people the benefit of my opinions."

Attempts to reach Maxwell this week were unsuccessful.

Ed Sass is the lone Democrat -- so far -- seeking Navinsky's seat. The longtime county employee ran unsuccessfully two years ago for the Kansas Senate seat now held by Roger Pine, a Republican.

In addition to his years as a county employee, Sass, 60, has experience with other public boards.

"I've been doing this for 20 years in the weed department and I've been doing solid waste about 10 years," he said. "Quite frankly, I haven't got any big issues, but I think I could be of some service. I've been on the township board in Easton and got a fire station built down there. I was on the school board in Easton and got a middle school built. Obviously, it wasn't just me."

But Sass said those experiences would serve him well on the county commission.

"I was able to work with the other elected officials and make that work," said Sass, who lives northeast of Easton. "I think there's some issues that we need to be aware of, concerned about but I think we're already addressing most of them."

If elected, he would emphasize services to taxpayers.

"Services is what I think county government is for," he said. "We need to provide a service for what we collect."

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