Questionnaire: Mike Yanez, County Commission District 3
Editor's note: Mike Yanez of Tonganoxie is running for the office of Leavenworth County Commission District 3 against Dennis Bixby of Tonganoxie.
Mike Yanez, Democrat
Occupation: Independent contractor (management and security)
Married: Single (divorced)
Children: Two sons — one a former high school teacher; one a firefighter
Experience: Over 30 years of municipal government service, including 23 years in city management. Highly familiar with public services delivery, managing numerous departments, personnel and priorities, working with elected and appointed officials at all levels of government and working with private sector stakeholders and property owners and citizens of all ages and interests.
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Pittsburg State University; numerous trainings in administrative practices including budget and finance, personnel law, capital planning, public processes and legal issues.
Q: Why did you decide to run for this seat? What would be your top priority if elected to the commission?
A: I’ll be very straight forward answering this question. Considering that my opponent has been a negative influence in the city where he now serves, I filed for office to give voters a choice rather than let my opponent run unopposed and potentially negatively impact the rest of the county’s communities, townships and rural areas. Recognizing the significance of the county commissioner position — one vote out of three — I have an appreciation for the commissioners’ level of influence. With this appreciation and with deep respect for the communities within the county and their ambitious plans and investments to attract growth, I filed for office confident that I was a better choice between the candidates — myself being a veteran public administrator with significant comprehensive experience who leads with objectivity versus a relative newcomer to governance who continuously displays political partisanship and antiquated, coffee shop style approaches to governance. I believe middle-ground objectivity better serves the county stakeholders than ultra-conservative approaches to stewardship. I believe the public is best served by listening, open-minded leaders rather than officials who will not tolerate or understand dissenting opinions.
Q: How does your experience qualify you for this office?
A: Certainly my 30 years of government services delivery and management make me the most qualified for the position. I am highly familiar with the expectations of stakeholders and have also seen how government can do things well and how government can make mistakes. For 23 years, I have been an administrator in a political environment though I have never considered myself to be a politician but a successful manager of public services and resources. Over my years of service, I have always overseen departments and operations that have finished each year under budget. I have never conducted any administrative actions that have caused litigation against my employer. I have always established and valued good lines of communications with citizens, groups, elected officials at city, county, state and federal levels. I have been successful in obtaining tens of millions of dollars in state and federal monies for my communities. I have always not only looked out for tax dollars but — using my administrative skills — I have been able to save tax dollars, stretch tax dollars, find new dollars and work with economic development groups and investors to create new dollars.
Q: If elected, would you pursue an EMS station or presence in Basehor?
A: This issue will be one of my immediate priorities to investigate. I know it has been recently evaluated by the BOCC and no action was taken. However, considering EMS is a life and death issue (not a tax and spend issue), I am going to want to re-open the book and ask for a new evaluation for due diligence prior to next year’s budget exercise. Among items to be reviewed are frequencies and types of EMS calls, response times, existing problems that might be resolved to improve present-day EMS delivery and to determine if an enhanced EMS presence is justified to mitigate response time and services delivery issues. I know the last effort to obtain enhanced EMS services was tabled due to lack of funds. However, it is my attitude that government is about people and not just about dollars. I know people will pay for services they feel are necessary. So public input will be essential throughout this process to determine if the public expresses a desire for EMS services enhancement and to determine their willingness to support services delivery options presented for consideration.
Q: The county has invested in County Road 1 and the turnpike interchange. Moving forward, what would you do to make sure the interchange benefits the entire county?
A: Nationwide, it is obvious that interchanges along federal freeways spur development around the transportation infrastructure. It was unfortunate that the national recession occurred the same time of the opening of the KTA / CR 1 interchange. On the other hand, with Tonganoxie’s investment in industrial park acreage adjacent to CR 1, I am aware that dozens of industries have considered the site and one major attraction cited by the industries is access to I-70. In time, the county will enjoy benefits from future industrial development enticed to the site by the interchange, available acreage and future utilities extensions by the city. The county should stay in touch with the city of Tonganoxie regarding industrial prospects and development of the site. Additionally, the county should continue to support both the Leavenworth County Development Corporation who markets the property and corridor internationally and the Leavenworth County Port Authority who has financial resources to possibly provide future funding assistance and /or incentives to attract new industries and hundreds of new jobs to the southern area of the county. Additionally, the county should be open to discuss development plans proposed by property owners along the CR 1 corridor who wish to explore development options.
Q: Why should voters select you instead of your opponent?
A: I filed for this office trusting voters to do an evaluation of the qualifications and experiences of the candidates and not to focus on political party affiliation which should really have minimal value in selecting officials for local offices. Balanced, experienced leadership is essential at this period of history as government and the private sector deal with impacts of the national recession. Leavenworth County and its communities are in competition for industrial and retail opportunities as well as challenges to support existing entities struggling with the recession and the county should present itself as a partner rather than an obstacle. I offer the level of leadership, know-how and balance needed at this time. I have presented a comprehensive platform, a professional profile and successful track record for voter consideration. I approach the position and its challenges choosing to utilize business perspectives to serve the greater majority of stakeholders and not have my performance limited by narrow political perspective, lack of experience or narrow vision. I am the only candidate with a complete package of skills, experience and associations needed to be an immediate and effective leader to meet the demands of the position.