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Monday, January 07, 2013 9:51 PM

City candidates file for office, cite unfinished business

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer

Two incumbents and a former city commissioner filed Monday to run for Ottawa City Commission.

Commissioners Linda Reed and Jeff Richards will seek new terms.

Their positions, along with veteran commissioner Gene Ramsey’s seat, are set to expire in April.

Former longtime commissioner Rocky Fleer also entered the race Monday.

Local residents who are interested in running for openings on the city commission have two weeks left to file their intentions.

The top two vote-getters would serve four-year terms, and the third-place finisher would serve a two-year term.

Reed and Ramsey are wrapping up four-year terms, while Richards is finishing a two-year term.

Individuals interested in running for one of those seats have until noon Jan. 22 to file with the city clerk’s office at City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St., Ottawa.

The general election is set for April 2. If a primary election is necessary, it would be Feb. 26.

Linda Reed

Keeping the City of Ottawa’s taxes at an affordable level, while maintaining the services residents have come to expect, would be a point of emphasis, incumbent Linda Reed said, if she were re-elected to the Ottawa City Commission.

Reed, 54, is wrapping up her first four-year term on the city commission and her fifth year overall. Reed served the last year of Deborah Henningsen’s remaining term before being elected to a full term four years ago. Henningsen vacated the position when she moved outside the city limits.

Reed said she decided to seek another term because she thought she owed it to the community and the residents she has represented the past five years for all the time and investment the community has put into her for training and education.

“I didn’t realize, and I don’t think the average citizen realizes, how much training and education is involved with serving on the city commission,” Reed said. “You just fly by the seat of your pants that first year, and then you continue to build on the training and knowledge. I feel like I have built a solid foundation in the past five years, and I want to use that experience to serve the community for another term.”

Reed, director of the lab at Ransom Memorial Hospital, 1301 S. Main St., Ottawa, said she thought improvements to city streets and sidewalks were some of the key accomplishments made during her term in office.

“Another one, though probably not as popular, was the establishment of a stormwater utility,” Reed said. “It took a long time to put together, and it was something this community definitely needed.”

Reed, who also served a four-year term on the Ottawa Planning Commission, said with Ottawa being selected by CNN/Money magazine as one of the best small towns in which to retire in the U.S., that it would be important for the city commission to keep prices affordable for residents.

“We want to make improvements, but you don’t want the cost of living to get so high you can’t afford to live here,” Reed said.

Jeff Richards

Richards, 44, said he would continue to push for economic development and to improve city streets, sidewalks and parks if elected to another term on the Ottawa City Commission.

Another point of focus for his next term, if elected, would be to lower the city’s property tax mill levy, he said.

“I feel like on paper, two of the city’s priorities for a long time have been to improve city streets and sidewalks, and I feel like we’ve made some real progress in those areas in the past two years,” Richards said. “I thought we did some nice things to make Ottawa more business friendly, and I would like to continue to push for economic development.”

Richards, a detective with the Overland Park Police Department, said continued efforts to promote economic development and growth were vital to ensuring the city had the funds to improve streets and parks and build new sidewalks.

The incumbent commissioner said he decided to seek another term to finish some projects — such as lowering the mill levy — that he thought had been left undone.

“We’ve made some real progress, but I’d like to serve another term to continue that work, because there’s more to accomplish,” he said.

Rocky Fleer

Fleer, who is in her early 60s, has been a resident of Ottawa for more than 30 years and served 12 years on the Ottawa City Commission. The former commissioner lost her bid for re-election in 2011 to current commissioners Sara Caylor and Jeff Richards.

Fleer, who has been active in many civic organizations, was unavailable Monday for comment.

In previous campaigns, Fleer said she wanted “to be the voice of the people” and create more jobs.

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