Archive for Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Race shaping up for De Soto mayor

January 7, 2009

After eight years, De Soto Mayor Dave Anderson is ready for more.

Anderson said Monday he would run again for another four-year term as mayor at the urging of those who don’t share his wife ‘s concern he was a “ball hog.”

“I’m running primarily because I had just about everyone who works with me or deals with me in De Soto ask and encourage me to run again,” he said.

Unlike four years ago, Anderson will probably have opposition this year. Randy Johnson, who is finishing a four-year term on the De Soto USD Board of Education, said he was “90 to 95 percent sure” he would run for mayor.

“I don’t know why I wouldn’t do it,” he said.

Johnson said he, too, had been encouraged to run for the position. He would elaborate his positions when he made a final decision in the coming weeks, but said the city’s financial situation was foremost in his mind.

“If I’m anything, it’s a fiscal conservative,” he said.

Johnson said he was still considering running for another term on the school board. His decision would be determined by who else files for the Position 4 seat he currently holds, he said.

“I don’t want to do both,” he said. “But I don’t want to see us lose the progress we’ve made. I don’t want the rubber stamp we had in the past.

The filing deadline for this spring’s city council/school board elections is noon Jan. 27. As of Tuesday, no one has officially filed for either the three openings on the school board or the two on the city council. But it appears there will be change over on the council.

Longtime Councilman Tim Maniez said he would not seek another term unless no worthy candidates stepped up to run.

“I have no intention to run,” he said. “I’ve done 20 years; it’s time for me to retire from politics.

“I really hope we get some good candidates because I really don’t want to run again.”

First-term Councilman Ted Morse’s four-year term will also expire in April.

Anderson said there was a number of important issues he wanted to see through. Those include the discussion of the city’s water utility future, downtown redevelopment and economic development proposals on the table.

“The single biggest thing is the growing of a tax base,” Anderson said. “That means we have to attract businesses similar to the ones we have now, who are great corporate citizens.”

Anderson said he was proud of what has been accomplished the past eight years.

“I feel satisfied with the help of the council, we got a lot taken care of,” he said. “For a small town, we’ve done a lot.”

During Anderson’s first two terms, the city has opened a new wastewater treatment plant, swimming pool, the three-month-old Riverfest Park and significant improvements have been made to the city’s two major streets, 83rd Street and Lexington Avenue.

Anderson also pointed to such reforms as the development of a coherent city financial system, the coming unification of the De Soto Fire Department and Johnson County Rural Fire District No. 3 and development of the city’s first capital improvement plan.

During discussion of the city’s water utility future, Anderson has endorsed a plan to join with Johnson County Rural Water District No. 6 to buy water from the city of Olathe over a renovation of the water treatment plant at Sunflower, which he believes would be too big a burden on rate payers.

He welcomed discussion on the issue in the coming campaign, Anderson said.

“I understand there are feelings out there I don’t agree with,” he said. “Certainly, it’s something we should talk about.”

In Anderson’s second term, the council contracted and approved a downtown revitalization plan would make pubic improvements to encourage private investment in residential, office and retail development in the downtown area. The effort will start this year with planning for streetscape improvements for 83rd Street downtown from Wea to Shawnee streets. Construction on the project is slated for 2010.

The approved revitalization plan takes advantage of the city’s place on the Kansas River, Anderson said.

“Riverfest Park and the riverfront authority — that is the defining brand for the city of De Soto,” he said. “It helps define who we are. It helped define who we where in the beginning.”

If three candidates file for mayor, a March 3 primary would narrow the field to two.

All De Soto Council positions are contested citywide. Should five or more candidates file for the two seats, there will be a March 3 primary with the four candidates receiving the most votes moving on to the April 7 general election.

A primary would be necessary in the USD 232 contested seats if three or more candidates file for any of the three positions. The primary is limited to the voters living within the position’s boundaries, but the top-two vote getters would move on to a April 7 general election that would be contested districtwide.

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