Archive for Thursday, June 15, 2006

Primary set in county election

June 15, 2006

It's official.

Republican Leavenworth County voters in the First Commission District will go to the polls Aug. 1 to determine which of two candidates moves on to the November general election.

The filing deadline for the commission seat now held by Don Navinsky, Easton, passed on Monday. Three candidates - two Republicans and one Democrat - filed for the office, which pays $44,877 annually.

The Democrat is Ed Sass, who is the county's director of solid waste and noxious weeds.

The Republican candidates who will face off in the Aug. 1 primary are Sam Maxwell III, Leavenworth, and J.C. Tellefson, who lives just west of Leavenworth.

This is the 52-year-old Tellefson's second run for county commission. Four years ago, he mounted 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 against Navinsky for the seat. But he changed his mind when Navinsky, a 12-year commission veteran, 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 stock broker. He since has closed his office and now is on the staff at Reville 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."

Repeated attempts to reach Maxwell have been unsuccessful.

Ed Sass is the lone Democrat - so far - seeking Navinsky 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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