Archive for Thursday, January 27, 2005

Four file for Council

Mayor Anderson unopposed

January 27, 2005

In a repeat of two years ago, last-minute filings swelled the ranks of those running for De Soto City Council.

Four men -- Tim Maniez, Ted Morse, Barry Thierer and Dave Vigness -- filed for the two open Council seats before the deadline of noon Tuesday, but no one chose to challenge first-term Mayor Dave Anderson.

No primary will be needed with just four candidates filing for the two opens seats. The two candidates receiving the most votes in the April 5 general election will win spots on the Council.

The two sitting Council members whose terms expire this spring made contrasting filing decisions. Emil Urbanek, who had indicated he was leaning toward running, decided not to run because of the reservations he'd previously expressed.

"If I was going to do it, I didn't want to do it halfway," Urbanek said. "I just got the feeling that would be the case. We are planning on doing some traveling."

Maniez said popular demand led him to file Tuesday, hours before the deadline. He received numerous phone calls after telling The Explorer he wasn't planning to run, he said.

"I guess I can honestly say the one that convinced me to go ahead and file again was Dorothy Nalley," he said. "She called me to thank me for all the time I served. It kind of inspired me.

"It sure makes you feel good when you have someone like Dorothy supporting you."

Maniez said city government was still in his blood and was anxious to see issues resolved such as the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant and the water treatment facility the city has leased for the past six years.

Lifelong De Soto resident Ted Morse, who owns the De Soto Apple Market with his wife, Marge, and son Jeff, said it was the retail and real estate experience that set him apart.

"On the City Council, there really is no one there with retail experience," he said. "You get a barometer of what's going on in De Soto with a business like mine. I'm here seven days a week. I'm easy to get to."

As a retailer, Morse said he was concerned that De Soto had the highest sales tax rate in the state. With the state's new destination-based sales tax collection, that made a noticeable difference when residents purchased cars and other high-ticket items, he said.

"We don't want to see our city erode because of sales tax," he said.

Morse said he favored controlled growth, but said little would happen until the new sewer was built and the situation with the Sunflower water treatment facility resolved.

"That's a battle De Soto has to win," he said. "Renovating an existing plant is much cheaper than building something new."

Thierer said he, too, was running out of concern about De Soto's stake in the Sunflower water plant the city has leased for six years. The city needed to project its interest in the plant as a source of water for residents and a revenue source, he said.

Forty years of government service -- two with the state and 38 with various federal agencies -- gave him a perspective on service delivery and the budget process, Thierer said. Thierer has worked for 18 years as a management analyst for the Environmental Protection Agency.

"There are questions working for EPA I became aware of," he said. "I thought maybe being on the City Council I could get a little more information than general public usually get and make sure the public is not deceived."

Thierer said he would like to take up former City Councilman Duke Neeland's fight to eliminate SBC's $25 charge for direct dialing numbers to other metropolitan cities. With the help of the rest of the Council, he would like the city to become more forceful on the issue, he said.

Vigness said he filed when he thought Maniez would not run for Council. Having attended Council meetings regularly in the past two years, he found himself in agreement with the stances taken by Maniez and Urbanek.

"I had roughly the same opinion as Emil," he said. "They both had the same outlook as I did. We've got to grow, but we have to retain the small-town atmosphere.

"We have a lot of retired people. We need to make sure we don't chase them out of the city with taxes and fees. Grandparents and parents are what makes for a lot of our small-town atmosphere."

Vigness, who owns a telecommunications business specializing in the installation of cabling for telephones and information systems, said he would bring an open mind to the Council.

"As long as we keep people on the City Council who have a good level head, every idea is worth listening to at least," he said.

Anderson said he would have welcomed the debate that would have come with a re-election campaign, adding that he hoped the lack of a challenger was a community validation of his performance in his first four-year term.

"You like to take it as a positive and as flattery," he said. "I think we've set a good direction for the city."

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