Where commission candidates stand on issues
Four sit down to discuss problems they will tackle, their reasons for running
Voters have three choices in the upcoming election of a district four county commission. Republican Dave Crofoot, of Marion; independent Amy Soyez, also of Marion; and Democrat Trayce Warner, of Florence, are vying for the seat.
Hillsboro resident Jonah Gehring is the only candidate for district five.
The Marion County Record invited all four candidates to a roundtable discussion about why they chose to run, what they can bring to the commission, and the biggest issues facing the county.
Crofoot, born in Cedar Point, graduated from Florence High School, served two years in the Navy, then moved to Marion and went to work for Western Associates in 1973. The business employs 50 and has offices in Topeka, Wichita, and Tulsa.
Crofoot also helped start Marion Die and Fixtures, which employs 30. Co-founder Jack Richman later launched Marion Manufacturing, which employs 15.
“I feel that I can give some leadership and some business sense to the commission,” Crofoot said.
Crofoot said the county should cut back on what it spends for consultants.
“I think we need to step back and analyze things, and not hire as many consultants,” he said.
Crofoot said building a successful business has taught him that taking care of your employees is important because the employees take care of the county. He wants to see the county take care of its employees.
“Employees are very important for us to succeed, and we need to take care of the good ones,” Crofoot said. “At Western Associates, over half of the employees have 20 plus years and a few over 30 years.”
Listening to the thoughts of others is also important, Crofoot said.
“It’s alright if you’ve already made up your mind, but you need to listen just in case,” he said.
Although he considers all county business important, he does not have an agenda and thinks leaders should take one thing at a time, Crofoot said.
Voters who want to contact Crofoot can call him at (620) 382-7053 or email him at dave@ westernassociates.com.
This is Soyez’s second run for county commission. She ran against Randy Dallke in 2016.
“I ran in 2016 because I saw a need,” Soyez said.
Soyez grew up in Overland Park and has been a county resident for several years. She has a degree in integrated marketing communications from Wichita State University.
She thinks the county is having issues with ethics and transparency. She does not see a lot of due diligence on the back side of county business.
Soyez wants to see more economic opportunity for county residents and believes she can bring an outside view to the commission to enhance economic development.
Soyez works for Merck Animal Health as a pharmaceutical representative. In this position, she travels the state and works with people in many counties. Commissioners can gain knowledge by networking with other counties. They can use the experience to mirror ideas that work, she said.
Soyez also believes the county could be run more efficiently.
“I want to see the county flourish, and I want to see the county change,” Soyez said.
One positive step, she said, would be to hire a county administrator who could write grants. Giving commissioners a $500-a-month pay cut would give the county $30,000 toward an administrator’s pay. Eliminating an accountant would free up another $25,000.
The biggest issue she sees is wind farms. The county, after granting conditional use permits for Expedition Wind Farm, now faces the challenge of negotiating a payment in lieu of taxes agreement before building permits are granted. The county should ask for as much as it can get in the agreement, she said.
She does not believe county commissioners negotiated the best contracts in the past.
Voters who want to contact Soyez can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (620) 382-4055.
A 30-year Florence resident, Warner spent many years managing carnival concessions. That taught her to solve problems, she said.
“You lead to serve,” Warner said.
She has served on the Florence city council for 12 years and on county leadership and economic development groups. She is thankful for the community where she raised her children.
“I feel a need to continue to serve,” Warner said. “I’m very thankful to Marion County and Florence.”
She sees a need for change in how commission meetings are conducted.
“There needs to be some civility, some transparency, there needs to be people working together, and not at loggerheads all the time,” Warner said.
She said she thinks it’s important that county leaders know whose interests they represent.
“The biggest thing I would like to bring is opening people’s ears and eyes and helping people see that we’re not at that table to represent our interests, we are at the table to represent all residents,” Warner said.
The biggest issue the county faces is the repair of its roads, Warner said.
“That’s the biggest issue, with three exclamation points behind it,” Warner said.
About the wind farm, she said commissioners have to come up with a plan that benefits the county, not just Expedition Wind.
“I also believe that right now Marion County has very divided opinions about what economic development is,” Warner said.
Voters who want to contact Warner can email her at email@example.com.
Gehring is majority owner of Elcon Services, an electrical contractor in Hillsboro. He has been with the company since 2005.
He serves on the Hillsboro city council.
His reason for running for commission is to improve efficiency and improve employment opportunities. He thinks his background in troubleshooting and problem solving will help the commission.
“My biggest concern is population decrease,” Gehring said.
Encouraging businesses already in the county and creating a positive atmosphere for new ones to develop will help the county flourish, he said.
Bringing fiber Internet to the county is important as well, he said.
“That brings people back to Marion County,” he said.
He thinks a more efficient county and reversal of population declines will lead to a lighter tax burden. The county should also collect unpaid property taxes, Gehring said.
“Take some of the tax burden off the rest of us,” Gehring said.
Tourism resources are not being used, Gehring said.
Voters who want to contact Gehring can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (620) 382-6746.
Last modified Sept. 18, 2019