Marion County Commission District 2 — covering the northeast portion of the county — is the only county-level contested race in the 2012 general election. Incumbent Republican Dan Holub faces a challenge from Independent Gary D. Lewis.
Both candidates answered several questions about their vision for Marion County.
What should be the top three priorities of Marion County Commission?
Holub: “Economic growth, especially by promoting existing businesses within the county to help them expand and encourage new Marion County entrepreneurs.
“Maintaining county infrastructure.
“Promote cooperation throughout the county to work for the common good. I do not mean for this to be interpreted a catchphrase. I am serious, we are capable of accomplishing much more through a united effort than as individual entities. Many communities are doing this and are working miracles within their communities. It is time to do the same thing on a county level. Many people use this phrase, too few act on it.”
Lewis: “My first priority, like the rest of the nation, is the economy. We have lost too many small businesses in our county in a short period of time. We must all do everything in our power to not only promote new growth but to maintain those businesses that we have here now. I will work with our small business owners to determine the systemic problems they encounter and seek to help eliminate barriers to their continued success.
“Second would be to establish a budget that is sustainable and do the most with what we can afford.
“I believe that one of the most important things I can do as a county commissioner is to foster collaboration and cooperation between the commissioners and the entire community. Much too much time is wasted on petty individual issues, the greater good must be discussed and implemented.”
What do you hope to accomplish in the next four years on Marion County Commission?
Lewis: “I hope to help support building a stronger economy. Help support our education systems for youth and adults. Be a supporter to the county work force. Support our volunteer organizations and its people in the county. I am a strong supporter of community service and public service. If elected, I will not accept any form of salary, turning it over to our faith community to continue their good work among our citizens.”
Holub: “Continue upgrading of county roads and put in place a viable maintenance plan to ensure no degradation occurs in the future. The two main components of this plan that need to be refined are adequacy and affordability.
“Continued growth in the ‘tourism’ area that facilitates growth in our tax base. Thanks to cities, groups, and individuals, there has been a steady increase in sales tax revenue the last few years. Events sponsored by those mentioned above and a successful marketing campaign have paid dividends to Marion County. Additionally, by drawing people to Marion County, we have started to experience an increase in our tax base due to new residents and even a few new businesses. Everyone would like to see it grow faster, but at least we are moving in a positive direction.”
What is the biggest challenge facing Marion County, and what can be done about it?
Holub: “Sad to say our biggest challenge is the Kansas Legislature. Economically their actions in passing two tax exemptions bills in 2006 has cost Marion County approximately $2 million annually in tax revenue at our current mill levy. Neither of these tax exemptions has had any real benefit for county residents or businesses. Additionally, they are considering (despite extensive lobbying against it by the counties) another large tax exemption that could reduce tax revenue to the county by another $500,000. It is important to understand that unlike revenue denied us by pipeline exemptions, this bill and one like it in 2006 reduces revenue already being received by Marion County. Since it is election time I feel obligated to inform all county taxpayers that with the exception of Bob Brookens, all current and former senators and representatives of Marion County have not only supported these exemptions but have actively advocated for them.
“As to what can be done? As long as our legislators behavior is tolerated by continued re-election, we will live in a world where-in ‘the wolves are guarding the sheep.’”
What is the biggest opportunity available for Marion County, and how can the county seize the opportunity?
Lewis: “I see them (challenges and opportunities) as two sides of the same coin. The biggest challenge and opportunity is the economy. Small business is a must. Two of the main concerns of people I spoke with as I went door-to-door were jobs in the area and property tax increases that seem to occur every year. Creating jobs is of course the way to start solving these issues. Besides small business growth, I will pursue medium-size low-environmental-impact manufacturing or transportation businesses that would employ up to 500 people, three shifts, 365 days a year. Our county is a great location to attract these kinds of businesses.”
Holub: “The biggest opportunity available at the present is the possibility of the new effort in drilling for gas and oil slowly moving our way. However, along with it will come many problems. We are aware of the issues due to monitoring the experience of other communities already experiencing this boom, and plans are being put into place to mitigate as many expected problems as possible. Opportunities usually bring problems, but rather than resisting opportunities to avoid problems, it makes more sense to manage them to reap benefits with as little adverse impact as possible. An opportunity you do not take advantage of is one you will probably never get again.”
What motivated you to run for office?
Holub: “I came, I saw, I felt we as a county could do better.”
Lewis: “I am motivated by the desire to give back to this great little community that has welcomed my family and myself. I am invested in the success of District 2. I will bring my expertise in business and a clean slate. I have no special interests. I come with new idea, and no past conflicts. I do not believe in career politicians. It was designed to be a community service by citizens. Never was it intended that persons should run, with no opposition, forever. As I visited with our neighbors, they were delighted that a change of ideas and perspective was being offered.”
Please tell us a little about yourself.
Lewis: “I’m a husband to a wonderful wife, Patti. I have three children and eight grandchildren. I am retired Air Force after 22 years of service. I’m currently employed at Bombardier Learjet for 14 years. My responsibilities include ensuring the skills and abilities of the men and women that build one of the finest airplanes in the world in a Learjet. I have 24 years of providing technical education. I am an active member of my church. I believe in integrity and fiscal responsibility.”
Holub: “Born and raised in Marion County. Attended Centre High School and two years at Emporia State. Enlisted in the Navy in 1968, accepted a commission in 1978, and retired in 1988. After retirement, I farmed until forced to give it up due to health issues. Employed by DeereTrail and moved on to mostly retired after that. I have been a county commissioner for a little short of eight years. I have four children and my wife is deceased. What makes me tick? Challenges.