Candidates express views on positions

Staff reporter

1) Why do you want to be re-elected as Marion County Sheriff?

Becker: "Before I was sheriff, I had always been involved in the community. I would like to build on past successes and continue to partner with communities.

"Since I've been in office, the county has given smaller towns ways to enforce ordinances through inter-local agreements, a new automated fingerprinting system which can identify people within five minutes, and continue to update our records management system. These improvements are bringing the sheriff's department into the new millennium.

2) What are the three top issues or concerns regarding the sheriff's department?

Becker: "Service to citizens, cost of housing inmates, and continuing educational programs for youth. Fuel costs also are a concern which could be a budget-buster."

3) Do you support a new jail facility? Why? If you do not, what plan would you support regarding the county jail, sheriff's department, and communications' department?

Becker: "There are issues with the present jail. Solutions are up to Marion County Commission and the public. The public needs to decide what we should do. We will work within the guidelines of what we're given."

4) Background and qualifications.

Becker: "I started in law enforcement in 1984 as a part-time officer at Peabody. I worked at the sheriff's department from 1989 to 1991 and then from 1998 to the present time. I was appointed Marion County Sheriff in 2000 and elected in 2000. I was re-elected in 2004."

5) Personal information (residency, spouse, family, etc.).

Becker: "I live in rural Hillsboro, am married, and have one child."

Robert "Rob" Craft

1) Why do you want to be the Marion County Sheriff?

Craft: "In my 26 1/2 years of full-time law enforcement I have seen and been involved in many aspects of law enforcement. I plan to bring that knowledge and those skills to the Marion County Sheriff's office so I may serve the citizens of Marion County in the manner in which they deserve. This will include areas such as fiscal integrity and personal responsibility in the sheriff's department.

"There are some new ideas and projects proposed for Marion County and the sheriff's office that will have a major impact upon the citizens of this county for a substantial time to come. I will bring the knowledge, managerial skills, foresight, and leadership skills to assist in the direction the citizens of Marion County choose to go.

"I consider the sheriff's office's leading responsibility to be the citizens of Marion County. I will aggressively work toward reduction of crimes such as rural thefts along with illegal drug activities taking place within the county. With strong involvement from the Marion County Sheriff's officers in local communities, local youth, and patrolling the rural areas, I am confident we can fulfill that obligation."

2) What are the three top issues or concerns regarding the sheriff's department?

Craft: "The three top issues regarding the Marion County Sheriff's office are: 1) The jail project. This will have a major impact on the sheriff's office and the entire county. Whichever direction this goes, it will require some major restructuring of the sheriff's office.

2) Fiscal responsibility. The sheriff's department must work within the realm of what is needed vs. what is wanted at all times. New equipment must be properly evaluated and a decision made as to its usefulness and value before funds are expended. Fuel costs have risen to the point that all officers must be aware of the limited funds for fuel. Officers must be prudent in their use of fuel yet have the ability to provide the required level of effectiveness and efficiency while performing their duties.

3) Keep quality and well-trained officers in the sheriff's department. The cycle and cost of training a new officer just to see them leave in a few years or less is not cost effective or prudent to a quality sheriff's department. The sheriff's office must do what it can to promote a good work environment for those officers while maintaining the highest level of quality law enforcement for the community which they serve. By retaining these quality officers they can become more aware of the struggles and crimes within the communities they serve and be a familiar, friendly face that the community knows they can count on in times of need.

3) Do you support a new jail facility? Why? If you do not, what plan would you support regarding the county jail, sheriff's department, and communications' department?

Craft: "I do support a new jail facility. The current jail is outdated, unsafe for personnel working in some areas of the facility, and does not meet some of the required guidelines. To update the current jail to meet all these needs would be expensive and only provide a temporary fix. We would again have to visit this issue in the future. By building a new facility now we will have more control in the decision-making process as to what we want. If we do nothing at this time, we will eventually be forced to do something in the future which may not provide us with many options from which to choose.

"The size of the new facility should be determined by the number of inmates we would have a reasonable expectation of receiving from other agencies."

4) Background and qualifications.

Craft: "I served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps during which time I was promoted to sergeant and was a crew chief on a search and rescue helicopter. Our mission was to fly search and rescue along with air medivac missions.

"In 1981, I joined the Kansas Highway Patrol and was stationed in Marion County. I have more than 26 1/2 years of full-time law enforcement experience. In those years, I was involved in a multitude of aspects concerning law enforcement. These included but are not limited to areas such as road patrol, criminal investigations, felony investigations, illegal drug investigations, stolen vehicle investigations, working with grade school, high school, and college students, and developing and implementing programs.

"I have more than 2,400 hours as a law enforcement instructor and was invited to serve on a 12-member international law enforcement advisory board. I have worked with many law enforcement agencies, not only in Kansas but several other states including state, local, and federal agencies and have provided law enforcement training for many of those agencies.

"During my tenure as a trooper and law enforcement instructor, I was an active member in many law enforcement organizations such as the American Society of Law Enforcement Instructors. My membership and participation with these organizations allowed me to gain a vast knowledge of law enforcement training requirements as well as duties of law enforcement and application of those duties. In 2004, I attended and participated in classes at the Institute for Law Enforcement Administration in Plano, Texas.

"In the fall of 2007, after more than 26 1/2 years of full-time law enforcement experience, I retired from the Kansas Highway Patrol so that I could become your Marion County Sheriff.

"I have had vast experience in leading and supervising many officers during the course of my law enforcement career. I will bring these skills and knowledge to the Marion County Sheriff's office to provide the citizens of Marion County with a pro-active, courteous, and professional sheriff's department.

5) Personal information (residency, spouse, family, etc.).

Craft: "I reside at 1528 190th Road, Marion. I have been married for 32 years to my wife, Janet. We have one son, Shaun Craft, who is married to Melissa (Moffitt). We will have our first grandchild in November."

6) Other comments/information.

Craft: "I look forward to the opportunity to serve you as your Marion County Sheriff and to bring with me the leadership, dedication, fiscal responsibility, managerial skills, family values, and integrity to provide you with the strong, courteous, professional sheriff's department you deserve. Thank you for your support and your vote on Aug. 5."

District 3

commission candidates Randy Dallke

1) Why do you want to be re-elected to the Marion County Commisson?

Dallke: "There have been some projects that have been started and I would like to see them to the end which includes a new jail.

"The commission has brought issues to the public to vote on which included the casino issue and other issues that will affect the Marion County lifestyle.

"The next issue is solid waste. At the rate we're going, we're either going to have to raise homeowners' and businesses' solid waste fees. We need to look to the future.

"The county needs to be as efficient as possible. We have found in the last term that some things have not been very efficient and we're making some changes toward efficiency and progress."

2) What do you believe your purpose is as a member of the commission?

Dallke: "My purpose is to promote Marion County and take care of issues in my elected district. Also to be one of the three members of the county commission that looks at what affects Marion County and make changes to affect the county in positive ways."

3) Do you support a new jail? Why? If you do not support a new jail, what plans would you support regarding the operation of the county jail, sheriff's department, and communications' department?

Dallke: "The reason I will support a new jail facility is that our current facilities are outdated. There are some safety issues with our current facilities. As we see in surrounding areas in Kansas, jails that have been built have at the least, been able to put money back into the system for upkeep. Taxpayers don't have to foot the bill for all of the expenses.

"One neighboring county is spending $120,000 to $130,000 per year to take care of their prisoners. That's money that goes out of the county and will never return to the county."

4) Background and qualifications.

Dallke: "I am a lifetime resident of Marion County and have worked on numerous volunteer groups including being a founding member of the Peabody-Burns Recreation Commission.

"After being a city employee for 23 years, I wondered how I could help with my experiences and was elected to the Peabody City Council and then elected as mayor. Through those terms as a member of the city government, I learned there are things that can be improved if we get out there and work for it which is the same in county government."

5) Personal information.

Dallke: "I graduated from Peabody High School and married a local, hometown girl who also graduated from Peabody High School. My family includes a daughter and her family who live in Peabody and a son who is deceased.

"The Dallke family has been in the Peabody area for generations. I have been employed by ATMOS Energy for 22 years and work within the county."

6) Other comments/information.

Dallke: "I would like to thank the voters who have given me the privilege to serve a term as a county commissioner. I hope they have followed my voting and saw how I voted on certain issues and can form a good opinion of me. I will strive to make Marion County grow."

Larry Larsen

1) Why do you want to be elected to the Marion County Commisson?

Larsen: "I believe that the Marion County Commissioners must be available to the public. I do not believe this is the current practice. I believe the Marion County Commissioners have lost the public's trust. I believe the Marion County Commissioners have acted as micro-managers. I believe that many of the county department heads have retired early or have resigned due to the management style and non-trust shown by the Marion County Commission."

2) What do you believe your purpose should be as a member of the commission?

Larsen: "If elected as a Marion County Commissioner in district three, A) I must be a good listener. B) I must allow and encourage all of my constituents to voice their concerns and needs to me freely. C) I must be a Marion County Commissioner that can be and is trusted by all. D) I must aid in the hiring of quality Marion County department heads. I must trust and allow the department heads to do the job that they are hired to do without the fear that I am in the background with binoculars, spying on them or having their office managers spy on them as has happened in the past. E) I must look into ways we, the county, can provide all citizens fair and friendly services. We must look into ways to hold the mill levy down and becoming more frugal in spending.

3) Do you support a new jail facility? Why? If you do not support a new jail, what plans would you support regarding the operation of the county jail, sheriff's department, and communications' department?

Larsen: "My first thought is I wish we didn't need to do any of this. Having said this, it's time for quality research, discussions, and a final hard and well thought-out decision. I cannot support the remodeling of the old building. A remodeling will, as I understand, just give us a facelift, reduce beds in the jail, and continue to lose money for the county. A smaller, new jail will add beds but still lose money. The county cannot continue to lose money.

"A new jail, as I understand it, will yes, cost more to construct, but will be a moneymaker for the county. History has shown us a continual increase in jail occupancy. Why should we send our alleged and convicted visitors to other jails while providing transportation costs and time spent by the Marion County Sheriff's Department? We do need to continually update the communications/dispatch area as cell phones and caller ID, and the new 800 channel come into play. Greensburg has shown us 'Yes, we do need to be ready at any time'. In order to successfully convict and hold prisoners, we need a legal and fully useable jail/sheriff's office."

4) Background and qualifications.

Larsen: "A) Marion County EMS volunteer for 20 years. B) Sedgwick County EMS paramedic for 15 years. C) Currently a Peabody City Councilman. D) Graduate of Leadership Marion County in 2007. E) Currently on Leadership Marion County Board of Directors. F) Marion County EMS Director in 2007. G) On the original Peabody Main Street Board of Directors. H) A member of Peabody Nursing Home board of directors from 1997 to 2000. I) Currently president of board of economic development in Peabody. J) A supervisor for six years in Sedgwick County. I have attended many Sedgwick/Marion county and foster family classes on management and working together. K) Currently a foster family provider. We have two foster children in our home. L) I have learned to work with and for the State of Kansas.

5) Personal information (residency, spouse, family, etc.).

Larsen: "I was born in Marion in 1950. I am 58 years old. My wife and I were married in 1992. Her name is Karen. Together we have two natural sons, Lucas, 13, and Kiefer, 10. We have adopted a girl, Brianna, 11. I have two grown daughters from a previous marriage, Rebecca Foth of Peabody, and Kristina Lovett of Haysville.

"We have cared for foster children for eight years. Currently we have two foster children, Xavier, 11, and Sonja, 8.

"I grew up in California as my parents moved when I was seven. After graduating from Livermore High School in 1968, I went into the U.S. Air Force for four years. I then plastered swimming pools for two years, and then moved back to Peabody to the family farm. I was moved by who and what EMS is and became an EMT. I then went on to become a paramedic and worked in Sedgwick County for 15 years. Currently my wife and I work on the Peabody EMS crew. She is a full-time flight nurse/paramedic for LifeTeam.

"We enjoy our family and are active in their lives (soccer, football, baseball, softball, track, and so much more). I am a stay-at-home dad who also commits to the people around me. I just started teaching part-time for Hutchinson Community College."

6) Other comments.

Larsen: "We need to look into the future.

"We need to find a solution to the Marion County water problem. We need to learn to play together in the same sandbox, finding common ground — needs while providing quality services to the people of Marion County. Together we stand, divided we surely will fall."