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Candidates explain issues, goals for council, school board

Candidates for Hillsboro mayor and city council positions were asked to respond to these questions. USD 410 Position 2 candidate Mark Rooker and USD 410 Position 4 Candidate Joe Sechrist did not respond.

Hillsboro mayor candidates

Delores Dalke

Q: Why do you want to be re-elected?

Dalke: I believe that one of the reasons that Hillsboro has been fairly successful over the years has been leadership. We have been very fortunate to have leaders that have been willing to serve multiple years as mayor. The mayor position requires knowledge as to how a city functions as well as the ability to make contacts, both locally and at a state and national level, to obtain the information and assistance needed to move forward. I feel that I have the experience and can continue to serve the people of Hillsboro.

Q: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the current administration?

Dalke: I am satisfied with the current administration; however, there is always room for improvement. Several years ago we had the opportunity to hire Larry Paine as our current city administrator; he has been in city management all of his career. We are fortunate to have someone with his background and ability to help guide our city.

Q: What is your background or what are your qualifications for office?

Dalke: I have served on the City Planning Commission, the Hillsboro Housing Authority, and Recreation Commission prior to being elected to the City Council. I served on the City Council for six years. I have completed serving 14 years as mayor. In addition to serving locally, I have been on the governing body for the League of Kansas Municipalities for two full terms. Recently I was appointed to serve on the steering committee for the University City Council for the National League of Cities.

Q: What are your goals for the city? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Dalke: My goals for the city of Hillsboro are for the city to be the best place to live, work, and play. This includes having jobs that will be available for our residents as well as the surrounding area to work at. We must have a quality of life that appeals to those who want to live here. Quality of life has to do with what is available for everyday life, including education, recreation, health care, and community events. I plant to continue allotting funds to support these areas, while keeping the mill levy at a rate that the taxpayers can afford.

Q: What is the most important issue for the city? Why?

Dalke: The short-term issue that is the most glaring at this time is the condition of our streets. We are planning a bond issue that will pay for major improvements within the next year. This bond issue will not increase taxes as it will replace bond issues that have paid off in the last year. The long-term issue is to increase our population and in particular the number of children attending our excellent public schools. Our schools are some of the best in the state of Kansas, but they do need students in order to remain at the level they are at. We also must help encourage Tabor College with their growth initiative and plans for a larger student body living in Hillsboro. Tabor College is the largest employer in Marion County, plus they draw many visitors to our community for cultural and recreational events.

Q: Other information?

Dalke: I have been a real estate broker in Hillsboro for 32 years. I am married to John, my husband of almost 49 years. We are the proud parents of three sons, two daughters-in-law, two grandchildren, four step-grandchildren, and seven step-great-grandchildren. I love each and every one of these and want to have a great community for them to have an opportunity to grow and flourish.

Teresa Marie Wright

Q: Why do you want to be elected?

Wright: I want to help the people of Hillsboro.

Q: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the current administration?

Wright: I am satisfied with the current administration, but I want to bring a difference.

Q: What is your background or what are your qualifications for office?

Wright: I have no background or qualifications for office, but I can learn really quickly.

Q: What are your goals for the city? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Wright: I want to bring jobs to Hillsboro. By being elected to office as mayor I can help the people of Hillsboro.

Q: What is the most important issue for the city? Why?

Wright: Keeping people in Hillsboro, because the people leaving Hillsboro to go to other towns or states for employment.

Q: Other information?

Wright: My mom works at Salem Home. My brother works at Hillsboro Industries. My stepdad does odd jobs. I take care of my animals and my house.

Hillsboro City Council
Ward 1 candidate

Robert L. Watson

Q: Why do you want to be re-elected?

Watson: I have served four years on the council and feel that we are doing a good job and would like to continue for another two years.

Q: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the current administration?

Watson: I am very satisfied with the current administration. I believe we have an excellent city administrator who works very well with the mayor and city council.

Q: What is your background or what are your qualifications for office?

Watson: I have been in banking for 35 years, 24 of them in Hillsboro, and feel that is a good background for public service. I served on school boards for 17 years, of which 12 were with USD 410. In addition, I was on the board of the Hillsboro Community Medical Center for a number of years, serving as chairman part of that time. This board experience and banking have taught me a lot about dealing with people and how organizations should work.

Q: What are your goals for the city? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Watson: I feel Hillsboro is on the right track, but we hope to continue improving. Our streets need a lot of work and we are trying to prioritize repair projects. Economic development has always been important to Hillsboro and we continue to emphasize it. Like almost every local government, we are very tight on money and we have not given our employees raises for two years. They can’t be expected to go three years without a salary increase. We will solve these problems by the council, mayor, and city employees working together with the people of Hillsboro.

Q: What is the most important issue for the city? Why?

Watson: I believe working jointly with local individuals, industries, and Hillsboro Development to promote more economic development is our most important issue. Rural America is losing business and population, and we must not allow that to continue in Hillsboro. This past year we made great progress in reaching an agreement with HDC to fund economic development. That position is very important and we have an excellent director. Much of the work is not obvious to the public but it is being done and I think we are making progress.

Q: Other information?

Watson: As mentioned earlier, I have spent my working career in rural banking. I presently manage a loan office in Hillsboro for The Citizens State Bank. My wife, Susan, is the secretary for the United Methodist Church and also is a seamstress. We have three children, all HHS grads who are now in their own careers. They have given us five grandchildren, who provide a lot of enjoyment. We like living in Hillsboro and look forward to helping to improve it.

Ward 2 candidate

Marlene Fast

Q: Why do you want to be elected?

Fast: I love the town of Hillsboro and hope to be an asset to the council and city. Because I sold real estate, I know many people, and many people know me. I hope to represent their voice.

Q: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the current administration?

Fast: I would love to learn more about why the administration does what it does, and how the process works, while adding my input from neighbors, friends and acquaintances, as well as my own thoughts and ideas.

Q: What is your background, or what are your qualifications for office?

Fast: I have lived in Hillsboro for 18 years, been on the Chamber of Commerce for three years, been a part of the downtown retail market for 12 years, and now work at the one of the largest employers of the city. I also attend a church in town, so I feel I connect with a wide representation across Hillsboro.

Q: What are your goals for the city? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Fast: I hope to be a part of making Hillsboro the best place to live, whether you are raising your family, retiring, or living here because of a great job. I hope to help the community thrive. I have believed in Hillsboro. My goal is to help the decisions that are made at the city level be understood by the people who live in Hillsboro. Many times I have wondered why certain decisions were made, and now I hope to be a part of that decision making process.

Q: What is the most important issue for the city? Why?

Fast: My thoughts? Due to the current economy, the tough decisions will have to be made, often with less money because of state cutbacks. I am open to hear what the city feels is the most important issue and hope to be part of finding the best choices.

Q: Other information?

Fast: I have three children. Katie is in her first year at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. She attended Tabor College for four years while playing basketball three of those years. Peter is finishing at Wichita State University with aerospace engineering. He was a part of the rowing crew team all four years and is planning to attend Georgia Tech for graduate work. Courtney is a junior at Fresno Pacific University, majoring in math. She moved to California so she could join the swimming team. The only lessons she had before attending FPU were from our Hillsboro Rec program during the summer. I am the Tabor College Director of Alumni and Parent Relations.

USD 410
Board of Education position 1 candidate

Debra Geis

Q: Why do you want to be re- elected?

Geis: I believe my previous experiences as a board member have given me valuable understanding of education and school finance. I have the ability to hear both sides of issues and make informed decisions that I belive are the best possible for all kids’ education needs and staff of our district.

Q: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the current administration?

Geis: Satisfied. They are working hard to find creative ways to meet challenges ahead for educations and still give kids the best possible education and opportunities available.

Q: What is your background, or what are your qualifications for office?

Geis: Parent of three children, board member for 12 years, good listener and communicator.

Q: What are your goals for the school district? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Geis: See that kids of USD 410 are given the chance to receive a quality education that equips them for success in their future. I also want them to learn life skills through as many opportunities and experiences as we can make available.

Q: What is the most important issue for the school district? Why?

Geis: Funding. We have been asked to cut our budgets for the last several years. I believe that most of the previous years’ cuts have been doable, not popular, but we have still been able to feel like kids were getting opportunities and a good education. I’m not sure we can cut the budget further without hurting kids’ education and opportunities.

Q: Funding is a major issue for all schools right now. How do you think the district can cope with funding issues?

Geis: Technology, collaboration, and creativity in how we use our resources will be vital in our ability to continue to provide a quality education for our kids. I also believe that career designed classes and opportunities are valuable parts of a well-rounded education. Every cut to be considered will be an important issue for someone. We need to be good communicators and listeners as board members making decisions.

Q: Other information?

Geis: Husband Wayne; children Logan, at Emporia State University; Lauren, a sophomore at HHS; Lisa, eighth-grader at HMS. We live on a farm northwest of Durham.

Position 3 candidates

Chad Nowak

Q: Why do you want to be elected?

Nowak: I have served on Site Council the past six years for elementary and middle school and have enjoyed the interaction with the students and staff and would like to continue in an expanded role.

Q: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the current administration?

Nowak: Satisfied. I feel they have done a great job in Hillsboro, top to bottom, with what they are dealing with in cuts.

Q: What is your background, or what are your qualifications for office?

Nowak: I have served on Site Council for six years, served on Hillsboro Housing Authority for five years, past member of Kiwanis, during the past 20 years I have gained valuable work experience in three areas: people, budgeting, and managing a business. Volunteer coach for youth in Hillsboro past 12 years in basketball, softball, soccer, and others.

Q: What are your goals for the school district? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Q: What is the most important issue for the school district? Why?

Q: Funding is a major issue for all schools right now. How do you think the district can cope with funding issues?

Nowak: I feel questions four through six are similar enough to give one answer. Funding is the most important and immediate issue facing our school. One of the most important things is to deal with the cuts and retain the integrity of the school. We have a very strong system in Hillsboro and must find a way to continue the tradition with less money per child coming in the form of state aid.

Q: Other information?

Nowak: I was born and raised in a small Western Kansas town, Sharon Springs, attended and graduated from Fort Hays State University with a degree in business communications. I have worked in the “cooperative” system most of my career starting in 1990 with Farmland Industries, Cooperative Grain and Supply, and the past six years with Cenex selling products for Cooperative Grain and Supply. I am married to Barbara for 15-plus years, we have three children, Tyler graduated from Kansas State University in 2009 and living in Los Angeles, Ashley graduated from Wichita State University this past December and living in Wichita, and Bradli who will graduate from eighty grade in May from Hillsboro Middle School. I enjoy hunting, fishing, golf, and coaching my daughter’s softball team in the summer.

Stephanie Moss

Q: Why do you want to be elected?

Moss: I am a very service oriented individual, and am very grateful for the opportunities that the Hillsboro community has given to both myself and my family. It is with a servant’s heart that I place myself in candidacy for this position. I quite simply strive to continue to serve the youth of this community as a working member of the USD 410 Board of Education.

Q: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the current administration?

Moss: It is mind blowing to consider that School Board members make up the largest body of elected officials in the United States. We entrust them to set the policies of our most treasured institutions: our public elementary, middle and high schools. School boards establish a vision for the community’s schools. They have to set up and maintain an effective, efficient organizational structure for the district that lets the superintendent and administrators manage the schools, teachers teach, and students learn. I find that the past and current membership of the Board has done this with great success. I believe that over the last year, they have had to make very difficult decisions, with more to come in the near future. The Board members have done so with profound thought and care. It is my hope that my election would prove to be a complementing asset to the current membership of the Board.

Q: What is your background, or what are your qualifications for office?

Moss: Please forgive me for using bullet points to delineate my qualifications for the position that I seek, but I think they will be the most effective way for me to communicate my strengths to the voting public.

School districts are very complex corporations; they’re often the largest employers in a community and the decisions they make reach far, affecting jobs, resources and most importantly, the education of all children. With that stated, I hold that the following are the qualities that I can bring to the table:

  • I have the ability to work well with a team and support group decisions, coupled with an understanding that the Board sets a climate for the entire district.
  • I desire to maintain a strong relationship between the district and the public it serves.
  • I possess a keen eye toward serving the needs of all students, regardless of abilities and backgrounds.
  • I have a professional, poised demeanor, and respectful, respectable behavior.
  • I have a respect for diverse points of view.
  • I am committed to preserving the time and energy necessary for attending meetings, fielding phone calls, initiating conversations, visiting schools, and attending professional development seminars and workshops.
  • Over the last year, I have endeavored to develop a working knowledge of district policies, guidelines, needs, challenges and strengths.

At the heart of it all, I believe in the value of public education. I am dedicated to serving and teaching all children. I believe in the democratic process and understand that my role would be to act strategically, in line with the interests of the entire school community. With that dedication and qualification, I submit for them to decide if I am who they want to represent them on this Board of Education.

Q: What are your goals for the school district? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Moss: I am not a “hot button” candidate. I am not trying to push through one issue or one agenda. The success of USD 410 impacts me directly, much as it does the voters in the district, in that it impacts the future that my children strive to achieve. I am intentional in enabling USD 410 to continue to maintain the standard of excellence that it carries with it to date.

Q: What is the most important issue for the school district? Why?

Q: Funding is a major issue for all schools right now. How do you think the district can cope with funding issues?

Moss: I am going to answer these two questions in one fell swoop, as the issue of funding is going to be front-page news and at the top of any working agenda. Unfortunately there is no easy answer to coping with the issue of funding. With the collapse of Lehman Brothers in the fall of 2008, things changed profoundly for our country. Expert opinion still wavers as to whether or not we have truly entered a period of sustained economic recovery. What we do know is that state and local financial recovery will lag behind that of the federal government. That being said, the next two to four years will, I believe, continue to challenge school districts, as they strive to maintain appropriate standards of education. I believe that USD 410 can continue to cope with these funding issues by being consistent in the strong decision-making abilities that they have exhibited to date. This requires analysis, the balancing of needs and concerns, and the ability to see the long-term implications of an action. I hope, with my election, to partner with the current board members in working toward that light at the end of the tunnel. A light that would indicate alleviated financial pressure and the freedom to focus on fully preparing the students of USD 410 for that amazing future that lays as a potential for each and every one of them.

Q: Other information?

Moss: Over the last 11 years, I have been blessed with different opportunities to serve the youth of Marion County and in Hillsboro specifically. These opportunities range from teaching Sunday school, to teaching pre-school, to coaching and managing a youth soccer program, and into the realm of working in Special Education. My husband is serving currently with both the Hillsboro Fire Department, and emergency medical services unit. My children are thriving in the welcoming and cohesive environment that Hillsboro represents. As this new year turned, the circumstances proved favorable for me to consider seeking election to the USD 410 Board of Education. I look at this simply as an extension of the last 11 years. Quite profoundly, election to this position will be a way for me to continue to serve the young people in Hillsboro.

At-large position

Roderick W. Koons

Q: Why do you want to be elected?

Koons: To be able to continue to serve the students of USD 410.

Q: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the current administration?

Koons: Satisfied. USD 410 has a tremendous leadership team that is driven to serve students.

Q: What is your background, or what are your qualifications for office?

Koons: Eight years experience in office, business owner.

Q: What are your goals for the school district? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Koons: To prepare our students to be successful members of society. We plan to accomplish this by not settling for anything other than excellence.

Q: What is the most important issue for the school district? Why?

Koons: The quest to do more and achieve more with less resources and personnel.

Q: Funding is a major issue for all schools right now. How do you think the district can cope with funding issues?

Koons: We all have to do our part and be willing to sacrifice. We have to look for new ways to do things without forgetting who we do these things for, the students.

Q: Other information?

Koons: Married to Carrie for 26 years. Two children, Shelby, a sophomore at Tabor College and Sammy, a junior at Hillsboro High School. Active in the Hillsboro United Methodist Church. Business owner, worked in tire and service business for 27 years.

Last modified March 9, 2011

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