Welcome, everyone, to our first candidate chat of the 2012 election season. Joining us this afternoon is Frank Male, the Republican nominee in the race for the Douglas County Commission's 2nd district.
We've also invited his opponent, County Commissioner Nancy Thellman, to chat. She'll join us tomorrow at noon.
I'll start off: Tell us a bit about yourself and why you're running.
My name is Frank Male, My wife Kallie & I have been maried 27 years! We have 4 children ages from 25 to 14. We live on a farm south of Eudora for the past 20 years. Lawrence Landscape is how I make my living. Partner Glen & I have been in business for 25 years. I've been interested in economic development for the past 20 years, serving on the land use task force during the creation of Horizon 2020, serving on the Lawrence Douglas County Planning Commission for 2 term and served as chair for a year. I'm currently finishing my second tour on the Lawrence Chamber Board. I decided it was time to get off the sidelines and try and help bring primary jobs to Douglas County. That is the primary reason my hat is in the ring.
Considering that arts funding at the state level is up in the air, what role — if any — should the county take in funding or promoting the arts?
I'm not sure what role the county has played in the past when it comes to funding the arts. But I think they play a growing role in our community. Final Fridays has been a huge success and draws people throughout the region. And they bring their dollars to spend in our community.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Blues & BBQ fund raiser in Baldwin City at the Lumber Yard Arts Center. The combination was great. Great food, Great music, Great people ( I sat with a couple from Leavenworth) and money was raised. Were else could you hear " The Euksters" on a Saturday night?
Your opponent believes that, even in tough times, monies should be allocated (wasted) on eco-devo and heritage. Do you share that same belief?
I do believe money should be invested in Economic Development on a continual basis for the attraction of primary jobs. Primary jobs bring new revenue into our community. Examples of these companies include Amar the Garage Door Group, Berry Plastics, and Grandstand Glass ware. These companies ship product throughout the united states, and the revenue comes back to Douglas County, to pay wages and health insurance for employees and various taxes to our local and state government. The money also circulates through our local economy thru spending on groceries and game tickets to dentists & mechanics. This helps our local small businesses thrive and hopefully expand.
Money spent on Heritage I view as more of a want than a need. Most if not all of us have felt the effects of this economic downturn. When fixed income, low income people and our small business owners are struggling, I have a hard time spending precious property tax dollars on these projects. The county over the past 3 years has spent upward of $1,000,000 on these projects and this is over and above the $600,000 that has been the baseline allocation to fund our local historical societies.
I believe that the wise use of property tax dollars should be spent on core services like public health and safety, roads and bridges, and other public works projects. The county has asked department heads and employees to tighten their belts , go with out base pay increases because of tough economic times while they watch $1,000,000 go to Heritage projects. It sends a message about the priorities of the Douglas County Commission.
If elected to the Commission, Will you consider proposals,put forth buy Developers, only if they are in the Best Interest of the City of Lawrence or will you put the best interest of the Developers ahead of the City Of Lawrence and it Residents?
Through my six years on the Lawrence Douglas County Planning Commission ( one year as Chair) we would routinely have public hearings on 15 + projects at our monthly meeting.
I've always reserved judgment till the presentations from staff, the applicant, and comments from the public have been heard. It is only then that you have enough information so that a balance can be struck. I've also learned it's best for the builder/ developer to have meetings with the neighbors as the proposal & designs are being formulated. Having the concerns known early makes for a more efficient process and both sides are less entrenched. They both have skin in the game. Many times during my term on the planning commission we sent proposals back so compromises could be worked out that would benefit all involved.
What would be your priorities for funding social service agencies in Douglas County?
After having a 20 minute conversation with Dave Johnson CEO of Bert Nash yesterday...
He impressed me with the very cost effective outcomes from having the WRAP program in many of the school systems in Douglas County. On a pure math scenario it makes tremendous sense, by helping at risk kids identify and address problems, allowing them to graduate High School and opens so many opportunities that they otherwise would not have had. These kids life time earning potential is increased by $300,000, not only changing their lives but those around them too. The key is catching mental health problems as they are just starting, the early teen years are crucial and the WRAP program in concert with our school systems are a proven winner.
I would continue funding for the WRAP Program.
Quickly, I would also support the base line funding ($15,000)that was the norm until this last year for the Lawrence Community Shelter. The County has already gone above and beyond by doing what was necessary to allow the shelter to be in compliance at it's new future location by the Douglas County Jail. I believe that the Alcohol Tax revenue that the City of Lawrence receives would be a good funding source for the Community Shelter.
Are you being given campaign funds or accepting support, such as signs and mailings, by the Americans for Prosperity or other similar groups supported by the Koch bothers?
The answer is no.
Many in the county feel like the City of Lawrence dominates what goes on at the County level. Do you feel this is an issue, and how can rural residents and smaller cities feel like their issues and opinions are being addressed?
I've lived 5 miles South of Eudora for 20 years now. My children have been raised on our small farm and all have attended Eudora Public Schools. Warning to 4 -H parents out there, when the kids leave for college their animal projects don't! We still have 2 horses and 1 pygmy goat that will never be sold... I am at heart a small town guy. Part of reason for serving on the Lawrence DOUGLAS County Planning Commission was to represent the unincorporated areas of the county. The current county commission has made it a practice to appoint people within the City of Lawrence
to fill the slots that have traditionally been filled with rural residents to bring balance and a voice to the table. If elected I will do my part to appoint rural residents to the planning commission.
Both Baldwin City and Eudora have bright futures due in part to the BNSF Intermodal being constructed in Edgerton. Hopefully housing starts and business activity ramp up when it comes on line. See you at the Maple Leaf Parade this Saturday!
We'd like to thank Frank Male and our questioners for participating in today's chat. His opponent, County Commissioner Nancy Thellman will be here for a chat at 11 a.m. Thursday, not noon, as stated in our introduction. Here's the link to submit a question for Commissioner Thellman: http://www2.ljworld.com/chats/2012/oct/18/nancy-thellman/