Archive for Thursday, January 18, 2007

Candidate filing deadline draws near

January 18, 2007

With the filing deadlines looming, the pool of candidates vying for a spot on the Lansing School Board has increased to three while the field seeking seats on the Lansing City Council has drawn five candidates for four openings.

School board member Richard Whitlow officially threw his hat into the ring Tuesday, Jan. 16, when he filed to run for office with the Leavenworth County Clerk's Office. And Mike Howell, who had said earlier this month he would seek election to the Ward 2 position on the City Council, filed by petition with the Lansing City Clerk's Office.

The filing deadline for the election is noon Tuesday, Jan. 23.

Board president Shelly Gowdy and Lansing police officer Brian Duncan also have filed for the four school board seats up for grabs, which now are occupied by Gowdy, Whitlow, Craig Gephart and Brian Bode.

In addition to Howell, four incumbents on the council all have filed for election, including Dee Hininger, the Ward 1 council member who will run his first campaign for the seat since being appointed in 2004.

Board filings

School board members unanimously selected Whitlow in July 2006 to replace former school board member Karalin Alsdurf after her resignation from the board. Whitlow also served a two-year term on the board from 2001-2003.

Whitlow, a private practice physician who specializes in internal medicine, said he wanted to remain on the board because of challenges - such as population growth and possible overcrowding - that could lie ahead for the district.

He said his main focus, if he wins, would be to continue focusing on improvement across the district.

"I think when you get complacent and you think everything is going great, something will pop up," he said. "I think we need to be vigilant all the way around and make sure when we see opportunities to improve we act on it."

He cited the importance of board members, teachers, students and parents working together to achieve the best possible outcomes.

"That's what makes Lansing good is the effort to always stay ahead and be at the top," he said.

Whitlow and his wife, Noelle, have five children.

Meanwhile, Gephart said he would not run for re-election to a second term.

And Bode, who has served on the board for seven years, said he remained undecided on whether he will run again.

To enter the race, candidates must submit paperwork and pay a $5 filing fee to the Leavenworth County Clerk, located at the county courthouse, 300 Walnut, Leavenworth.

Candidates must be registered voters in the Lansing School District.

Hininger filing

His days as a business owner ended several years ago, but Hininger says he still relies on those old practices as a Ward 1 representative to the Lansing City Council.

"One advantage I bring is the businessman's point of view, a business-conservative point of view about how the city should be run," said Hininger, who operated a motorcycle sales business in Lansing from 1969 until he sold it in 1988. "I think I give the council a business perspective."

Hininger has lived in his Helen Street home for 35 years with his wife, Nancy. He said he was proud of several of the council's accomplishments since he took his seat on the board, including maintaining a relatively stable mill levy and the start of major road improvement projects on Main Street and Eisenhower Road.

He said he also was proud of the council's efforts to lure new businesses to Lansing to expand the city's tax base. He pointed to four new businesses in the Main Street Center, the new Popeye's Biscuits and Chicken at Carriage Hills Plaza, along with announcements of the opening of a Burger King and Arby's in the plaza, and plans for two banks that are building on either end of the Towne Center development.

"That's the main thing, getting new businesses to help expand the tax base so there's not so much pressure on residential property owners," he said, noting new business openings spur both property tax relief and bring in money via the city sales tax.

Hininger said he works at being a good representative for his constituents in Ward 1.

"I enjoy being on the council. It's a lot of work, a lot of preparation, a lot of reading. But it's nice being up there and making decisions for the city," he said.

Those decisions include making sure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, he said.

"I'm kind of conservative about spending money," he said. "That goes back to being a business owner. You always think twice about spending money because it's your own."

After Hininger sold the motorcycle shop, he earned a Kansas real estate license and for a time sold real estate. Though he now works as a civil servant at Fort Leavenworth, he continues to keep his real estate license current.

"That's another perspective that helps," he said.

Hininger and his wife are the parents of two adult sons, Damon and Del III.

Time's running out

The deadline for filing for election to the Lansing City Council and Lansing School Board is less than a week away.

Four seats on both boards will be up for election April 3, and the deadline for filing is noon Jan. 23, according to Debbie Cox with the Leavenworth County Clerk's Office.

State law requires that school board candidates be registered voters in the district, and it forbids board members from being an employee of the board on which they serve.

Cox said Lansing School Board candidates needed to file for election at the County Clerk's Office, in the County Courthouse, 300 Walnut, Leavenworth. A $5 fee must be paid at filing time.

If more than eight candidates file for the four open school board seats, a primary election will be scheduled for Feb. 27.

Those seeking to run for Lansing City Council must be a registered voter and live in the ward in which they seek to serve.

Cox said filing for a council seat must be completed at Lansing City Hall, 800 First Terrace. A $10 fee must be paid at the time of filing. The fee will be waived if the candidate submits a petition signed by at least 24 qualified electors, which is 1 percent of the number of voters in the last city election.

If more than two candidates file in any ward, a primary election will be scheduled for Feb. 27.

Thus far, only one council race is being contested: Mike Howell, a resident of the Sherwood Forest subdivision, last week filed papers to run in Ward 2, setting up a challenge against incumbent Andi Pawlowski.

All four council incumbents whose terms expire this spring have filed for election: Dee Hininger in Ward 1; Pawlowski in Ward 2; Janette Labbee-Holdeman in Ward 3; and Harland Russell in Ward 4.

The only declared candidates in the school board race are incumbents Shelly Gowdy and Dr. Richard Whitlow, and Brian Duncan, a Lansing police officer seeking his first elective office. Seats held by Craig Gephart and Brian Bode also are up for election.

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