Archive for Thursday, January 22, 2009

Council candidate slate slim

January 22, 2009

There will be a contest this spring to determine who will be the mayor of De Soto the next four years, but late filings are needed to fill out a mostly empty slate of city council candidates.

The deadline to file for the spring council/school board elections is noon Jan. 27.

As of Tuesday, the only resident to file for the two open De Soto City Council seats was Ron Crow Jr. The two incumbent councilmen whose terms are expiring this year, Tim Maniez and Ted Morse, have both said they are not running for another four-year term.

A race for mayor was assured when Randy Johnson filed days after telling the Explorer he was strongly inclined to do so. Johnson, who is finishing his first four-year term on the De Soto USD 232 Board of Education, said he was running to bring the city a fresh start.

“When you look at what’s going on in the country and in politics, if you’ve had eight years to do something and haven’t got something accomplished, its time for a change,” he said.

One of the things that needs accomplished is a decision on the future of the De Soto water department, Johnson said. The De Soto City Council has been considering two options: a renovation off the Sunflower water treatment plant or a partnership with Johnson County Water District No. 6 to purchase water from Olathe.

Mayor Dave Anderson has said he favored the cheaper solution of purchasing water.

“I differ with Dave on this,” Johnson said. “I hate like heck to give away a resource.”

Johnson said he also had concerns about the planned beautification project for downtown De Soto. Planning for the 83rd Street streetscape overhaul from Peoria to Shawnee is to be done this year with the work to be scheduled for 2010.

Johnson said he doubted the upgrade would attract business downtown. The city could well end up with a nice street with few visitors or shops when the money could have been used on other city infrastructure needs, he said.

Johnson was a vocal critic of the city’s year-old rental inspection plan when it was proposed in 2007. That opposition didn’t motivate him to run for mayor, but Johnson said he would like the program to be revisited.

It was symptomatic of programs supported by those who moved to De Soto and now wanted De Soto to become like Lenexa, Shawnee and other Johnson County cities they left behind, Johnson said.

Crow, who ran for city council in 1998 and 2004 and is a three-year member of the De Soto Parks and Recreation Board, said he, too, favored the option of renovating the Sunflower water treatment plant.

But Crow said his main interest was expanding the De Soto tax base. He would support use of tax increment financing, abatements and other state incentives to attract businesses, Crow said.

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