Louisburg City Council Ward 2

NAME: Lee Baer

AGE: 32

OCCUPATION: Civil Engineer

FAMILY: Wife — Heather, Sons — Landon and Hudson

1. If elected/reelected, what would be your top priority?

The main items that I will continue to focus on are smart city growth, let’s bring business to town, and improving infrastructure. Early in 2019, the council approved a citywide stormwater study. Using this study we have and should continue to make stormwater project improvements. These types of projects impact our residents’ daily lives, keeping homes dry and streets safe. The city does not have a professional engineer on staff. When these projects are approved or voted on, the community benefits when we have council members that understand the engineering principles as well as the community involved.

Bringing business to town will take efforts from Louisburg as a whole. The council should do their part in providing an atmosphere that is welcoming to new businesses all the while working with the Chamber of Commerce and existing businesses to better understand how to attract new business and support those already here. We have been able to spur new development this year as Casey’s and a new dentist office are being built or have completed the permit process to be built in the near future.

2. Why do you think voters should elect/reelect you?

We do not have a city engineer on staff in Louisburg, and I’m not sure we are a large enough community to need one full-time. However, we should take advantage of the members of our community that have the technical expertise to make sure we are spending city infrastructure dollars in the most effective manner. I am a licensed professional engineer and take my responsibility to the public seriously. We should not need to adjust sidewalk projects that were recently built and we should not be building stormwater projects now that are the result of poor planning.

I have spent my entire professional career helping communities get the most for their money when it comes to engineering projects. I have had the privilege of helping communities from Parsons to Atchison, KS (and everything in between) improve sidewalk connectivity, upgrade street lighting, implement street paving programs, and upgrade stormwater drainage. This is exactly what I strive to do in our community. One skill I bring to our citizens is the fact that when the council discusses engineering projects, I have a great grasp on what will work and how things should be done. We need to have technical experts on our council that listen to our citizens, that is exactly what you get with me. I would ask, if a candidate isn’t willing to ask your permission before adding their sign to your yard, I doubt they will ask for your opinion on future votes. I always have and will continue to reach out to my voters.

3. How would you address stormwater problems in the community?

This year has seen a lot of rain. It is shocking to me to see how far behind we are in drainage maintenance and updates. Our citizens pay a monthly fee specifically for stormwater, they should not be able to float a canoe in their backyards. Far too many of our citizens in town can show us pictures of flooding from this past year. The city has very capable public works staff who have started catching up on ditch maintenance this year, but we really have to start focusing on the drainage systems within the ground. About a month ago, a resident posted pictures and videos of 1st Street between Elm Street and Vine Street that displayed how undersized that 15-inch drainage pipe is. Much of that neighborhood drains to this one pipe, and it is simply too small. In early October, I led a motion to direct funds from our stormwater fund to this project. The completion of this project will provide immediate ease to dozens of residents.

As a council, these are easy-to-see issues that make a big difference in many people’s lives. One skill I bring to our citizens is the fact that when the council discusses engineering projects, I have a great grasp on what will work and how things should be done.

4. What should be done to attract more retail and fill empty storefronts?

The first thing we should do is make sure we are holding the existing empty storefront accountable for keeping up a presentable appearance, one that our citizens can be proud of and one that would draw the eye of any possible tenant/investor.

Louisburg is known as a “bedroom” community, where residents live and sleep, but generally work elsewhere. We need to promote these empty properties as office space or business centers and give our residents a chance to start a new business or move their office to town. I will work directly with the Chamber and our residents to focus on the future needs of Louisburg.

5. What are your thoughts on residential growth?

During a well-attended City Council meeting earlier this year, it was clear that the majority of citizens who attended believe in “organic” residential growth and that we should focus on bringing more business to town and let those rooftops follow. Having helped communities plan for growth in the past, it is vital that we listen to our constituents and direct growth so that it benefits our community as a whole.

NAME: Donna Cook

AGE: Not answered

OCCUPATION: I have owned and operated a successful business, Rabbit Creek Products, in Louis- burg for over 30 years.

FAMILY: My family mem- bers are son, David Cook, and his wife Robin. They are also Louisburg city residents.

1. If elected/reelected, what would be your top priority?

If elected, there is more than one issue that I have on my priority list:

  • A. Storm water run-off, which I believe is being addressed by the council now, I want to ensure it remains on the priority list of projects for the city.
  • B. More downtown commerce and business development of the empty storefronts, whether it is single person business or employs several. With more business development, our employment opportunities will increase; plus, a thriving business community helps attract residential

growth. 2. Why do you think voters should elect/reelect you?

Having run my own business, it has taught me key logistical tactics, common sense problem solving, budgeting, recognizing the prioritization of projects and how to efficiently and effectively, multi-task while remaining on budget.

All these business elements come into play in city management. I’m committed to treating the city’s expenses and projects as if they were my own. When normal city growth challenges face the city; the goal is to be practical and responsible. A short-term band aid approach is not my style.

City development brings challenges which require responsive spending. We need to maximize the return on investment of every dollar spent by the city by assuring competitive bids for contract work and purchases.

3. How would you address stormwater problems in the community?

Flood control and stormwater runoff improvements must remain a top priority moving forward in city development. The root cause of these problems will need to be isolated and corrected to determine if it has been caused by one of these factors:

  • Faulty design by engineers
  • Faulty installation by contractors
  • Reduced green space area for water to soak into the ground
  • Clogged drains
  • Collapsed pipes and drains

4. What should be done to attract more retail and fill empty storefronts?

Empty retail space, beyond the downtown, is another one of my priorities. The city’s 20-year comprehensive plan is a great place to start. City management, citizen feedback and professional engineering guidance all are key parts of this strategy.

I am a member of the Land of Kansas Advisory Board which help participating businesses grow and thrive. My experience and knowledge of those resources will help support future growth in Louisburg.

The city needs to pursue large, medium and small companies who want to come to Louisburg. As a small business owner, I know the hardships it takes to get your business off the ground. I believe we need to talk to our existing businesses and see what avenues the city can take to help them succeed and grow.

You don’t know the needs of a business unless you ask the owners or management. Communication with my constituents is key to being an effective city council member. Granted, a city will have practical limitations on the level of help which can be provided; however, open communication, between the city and businesses can foster a supportive environment to overcome challenges by a team approach.

5. What are your thoughts on residential growth?

Residential growth is going to happen. Due to our close proximity to Kansas City, residential growth in Louisburg is inevitable. I endorse strategic planning for residential areas. Let’s plan Louisburg for future growth as a place people want to move to and stay long term.

In closing, the future of Louisburg looks very promising, and I’m happy to be a part of it. I welcome your feedback and look forward to open discussions in the future. I would appreciate your vote on Nov. 5.

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