Archive for Thursday, January 23, 2003

Late filings force City Council primary

January 23, 2003

A late flurry of filings will send De Soto voters to the polls in late February for a primary to trim a list of nine candidates for De Soto City Council.

The field of nine is balanced with two incumbents, three candidates who have sought Council seats in the past and four newcomers. A Feb. 25 primary will reduce the list of Council candidates to six. The survivors will vie in an open election April 1 for three City Council seats.

The incumbents include Linda Zindler, who filed early this month, and John Taylor, who filed Friday after considering running for the De Soto USD 232 Board of Education.

"I just figured I might odd-man-out with the School Board," he said. "I think there are still things to be accomplished. We need to get phone service in town that is a little more competitive than what we have. Same goes for Internet and cable -- probably a third of the city is without cable."

Taylor was first elected to the Council in 1995. Taylor works for the Johnson County Human Services and Aging Department as a maintenance supervisor in the Roeland Park Community Center. The 48-year-old Taylor has lived in De Soto since early childhood.

The names of Ron Crow, Merle Couch and Clyde Sanders appeared on City Council ballots in the last four years. That experience, or rather those who remembered his 1999 candidacy, was a big factor in his decision to run, Crow said.

"People remembered I ran before and told me I should run," he said. "I think I have good ideas to give this city, and I have a love for it that is second to none."

The 31-year-old Crow is a member of the De Soto Watermelon Festival Committee. He said he favored building a new swimming pool at the Community Center so that it would be more accessible to community youth.

Couch, too, last sought election to the Council in 1999. The 55-year-old Couch said he was motivated by the city's continued difficulty in acquiring the water plant at the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.

"I'm running because De Soto has a real need for water, present and future -- that's my background," he said. "I think I could be a real asset to the De Soto City Council in securing the Sunflower water plant."

Couch said he was acquainted with officials at both the Kansas Water office and Kansas Water Resource office and could help with the city's effort to acquire the water rights to the Sunflower well field.

Couch served on the De Soto Planning Commission from 1998 to 2001 and he was appointed by then-Mayor Steve Prudden to serve on the Sunflower Restoration Advisory Board when that body was created in 1998. He was also a member of the Lexington-De Soto Rescue Unit for 12 years and served as a member and chairman of Johnson County Rural Water District No. 1.

He and his wife, Elizabeth, have two grown daughters.

Former Planning Commission member Clyde Sanders, a retired insurance claims representative and supervisor, sought a seat on the Council in 2001.

The first-time candidates for the City Council are Dick Brazukas, Betty Cannon, Mitra Templin and Dave Vigness.

Local businessman Brazukas said he hoped to provide vision to the Council as it dealt with the transfer of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant and the city's water and sewer needs.

"I think we need a City Council that can work with the mayor and that can work together," he said. "We need a new City Council that can come up with answers to big issues the city is facing."

Brazukas has been on the De Soto Planning Commission for more than a decade and is a member of the Sunflower Restoration Advisory Board.

The 63-year-old Brazukas and his wife, Froydis, have two children. He had a 20-year career experience in structural design with engineering and architectural firms.

Although this is the first time Betty Cannon has sought elected office, the Cannon name has been on the ballot before. Her husband, Jim Cannon, served on the Council in the 1990s and sought re-election in 2001. Betty said residents convinced her it was her turn to run.

Cannon filed for Council one month after stepping down from a year's stint as president of the De Soto Chamber of Commerce.

She said the knowledge she gained at that post and as a member of the De Soto Economic Development Council -- she remains on that organization's board -- would be of use to the Council.

"I'm interested in our town from being involved in the Chamber and EDC," she said. "It was just something I felt like I wanted to do."

Cannon owns Betty's Trucking in De Soto.

Candidate Mitra Templin is seeking a seat on the Council as it is attempting to prepare a bond referendum for a new swimming pool, an effort she has led the last three years as chair of the De Soto Park and Recreation Commission's pool committee.

Although Templin said she wanted to see the maintenance costs the De Soto USD 232 would charge should a swimming pool be built at De Soto High School, she favored building a pool at the Community Center.

"I would like to see the pool built somewhere close to downtown," she said. "I want to see downtown vital. I don't necessarily want to save money now and spend it later on some big downtown redevelopment project."

The present Council has accomplished many good things during the past two to three years, Templin said, citing the development of a 10-year capital improvements plan and hiring of a professional city staff.

"One of my strengths is the ability to shift through the details to see the big picture," she said. "I think I'm the type of person who can move that (capital improvement) plan along to make De Soto a better place to live.

A graduate of Kansas University, Templin worked as senior sales representative for the pharmaceutical firm Merck and Company before "retiring for other things" in 1996. She serves on the board of the non-profit Junior League of Kansas City. She gained experience in handling large budgets in both of those endeavors, she said.

The fourth first-time candidate for the Council admitted he was a novice to city government and community activism. Dave Vigness said his time has been dedicated to building his business. After attending a number of Council meetings, however, he believes his business background would be of value to the Council.

"I'm in the telecommunications business," he said. "De Soto is a small town with nowhere to go but up. Unfortunately, most of those improvements involve technical aspects. It is going to take someone with the knowledge to keep that going."

Vigness owns Greater KC Communications of Kansas. He serves as the Panasonic dealer for Kansas and services ATMs and other electronics.

De Soto put the "good-ole-boy" system behind it with the development of a professional staff and contemporary planning regulations and procedures, the 40-year-old Vigness said. The Council's role was to make decisions on about 10 percent of the applications where "the rules don't apply," and provide policy direction, he said.

Vigness and his wife, Gail, have three children, one of whom is still at home.

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