Maintaining city services and improving sidewalks, streets and housing are some of the priorities of the Ottawa City Commission candidates that were outlined in Thursday’s candidate meet and greet forum at City Hall.
The Ottawa school board candidates want to provide a well-rounded education, be fiscally responsible and give children the opportunity to learn life skills.
The city commission has three openings and three candidates, all of whom are on the commission. The school board has four openings with five candidates, four of whom are incumbents. The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 5.
The city commission candidates are Sara Caylor, Eric Crowley and Tom Weigand. The top two vote-getters will serve four-year terms, while the third-place finisher fills a two-year seat.
The USD 290 school candidates are incumbents Julie Dandreo, Brian Kane, Susan Ward, Harold Wingert and newcomer Malydia Payne. The top four vote-getters will receive four-year terms.
Each candidate gave remarks on the issues and why they are running. Ward was unable to attend the forum.
Caylor has been a city commissioner since 2011. She said her priorities have not changed since 2011. Those priorities include improving sidewalks, streets and maintaining and growing the city parks.
“We have grown in some areas,” she said. “We still have room to grow. I have had the opportunity to show my daughters and other young people in the community how you have to step up and be civically-minded. I have had the absolute pleasure to serve the citizens.”
Crowley has served two different times on the commission in the past couple of years finishing terms of departing commissioners. Crowley is seeking his first full term as a commissioner.
Crowley, a business owner, said one thing he would like to see improved is the housing situation.
“I am into development of new construction and helping eliminate the blighted houses,” he said. “We have 66 houses that are unable to be lived in.”
Weigand was appointed to finish a term by a departed commissioner and is seeking his first full-term seat. He said street, curbs and gutter repairs need to be addressed.
“It is always a battle to keep our mill levy down and our taxes as reasonable as we can,” Weigand said. “I like to see what is going on downtown. When you look at Main St., those buildings have a higher occupancy rate than malls in the Kansas City and Topeka area. A lot of good things to celebrate and we have challenges ahead. One of the things we do well is try to inform the citizens of what is going through Facebook, radio and newspaper at our meetings. We discuss things openly. I have enjoyed being a commissioner.”
Dandreo has been a school board member for the past two years. She wants to continue to grow the district.
“I love to serve our community,” Dandreo said. “I realize the power of education and how important it is for our kids. Everything we have accomplished in the district over the last few years is the result of the entire board.”
Wingert was elected in 2016 and is seeking his second term on the board. One of Wingert’s priorities is making sure the children receive the best education.
“A well-rounded education system starts with the teacher in the classroom,” he said. “We need a strong teacher staff. You hear about teacher shortages. Luckily we have not had that here yet. Teacher shortages are going to become an issue in the state of Kansas.”
Wingert said the high school’s new tech center is an area of growth and one that can be expanded.
Kane is seeking a fourth term on the board. He said giving the best education we can provide is still his top priority.
“Over the last 12 years we have accomplished a lot,” he said. “We have a brand new elementary school, a state-of-the-art performing arts center and a huge state-of-the-art CTE wing at the high school. I delight in seeing the CTE wing being utilized so (students) will leave high school — not necessarily college bound — but (ready for the) workforce.”
Payne is a newcomer to running for office. Payne is a stay-at-home mother with four kids. Her husband is in law enforcement and served in the military. Payne wants to bring a fresh voice to the board.
“I feel like there are some really great ideas in the community,” she said. “There is a lack of communication on how that information is moving along to unify the community with the school district.”
Payne’s points of emphasis are:
• Be fiscally responsible and accountable.
• Be a positive voice and a listening ear for families, students and community members.
• Bring common sense solutions to community concerns.
• Be an advocate for student resiliency.
Payne’s family believes in service before self and excellence in everything.
“I look forward to applying those principles in serving USD 290,” she said.