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  • Writer's pictureJournal Staff Report

Four candidates vie for two Pleasanton city council seats

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

PLEASANTON – There are several major issues looming before voters in the city of Pleasanton on Nov. 7, including the selection of two new city council members.


Current Council Members Jake Mattingley and Melanie Staton did not file for re-election to the five-member council. Mayor Mike Frisbie also did not file to keep his post, and there are three candidates vying for that seat.


During a forum of candidates for city offices sponsored by the city on Oct. 23, candidates for council had the opportunity to speak to issues they feel are important to the city.

The Linn County Journal sent out a survey to all of the candidates asking them:

  • About their background and why they wanted to run for the seat,

  • What experience they had that would help them on the council,

  • What they believed that the top issues were in the city and what they would do to address those issues,

  • Whether they supported the proposed 1% sales tax that will also be voted on in the election, and

  • What action city government could take to support local businesses.

While we did edit their responses for style and any grammar or spelling mistakes, their responses are virtually unchanged because we wanted Pleasanton voters to have a good understanding of who the candidates are. We also told them that their responses could be as long or as short as they wanted because we have no space restrictions,


Here are their responses. They are listed in alphabetical order based on the candidate’s name.


Christopher Martin

I have lived in Pleasanton for almost 20 years. I ran an IT business based in Pleasanton supporting local clients and Sylvan Learning Centers all over the nation. I have been a Pleasanton City firefighter, Pleasanton police officer, Linn County Sheriff's deputy, and I am currently the Linn County IT Director.

Having worked in private sector business and government operations for several years, as both an employee and manager, I think I can bring a good understanding of government and budgeting to the role of city council member. I understand that running a business is not the same as managing government operations. Government cannot be about profitability but must be about providing services to its citizens.


In my opinion, the first issue facing the city is the relationship between the city and its citizens. We need to work toward repairing this relationship and try to create more positive interaction through customer service, citizen interaction, and accountability.


Another issue is the budgeting process. We need itemized and detailed budgets that explain how a budget number was arrived at, and not just a general number; and that information should be easily available to the public.


Finally, we need for decisions by the city to be based on logic and reasoning, and we need to allow the citizens to know what decisions are based on and give them an opportunity to give input.


Most of this can be broken down to transparency. The city council needs to only use executive sessions when necessary and conduct city business using open, fair, and consistent practices. I think we should live-stream city council meetings and provide more opportunity for citizens to participate.


I am not opposed to the 1% sales tax, but I am opposed to how this tax has been presented. Specifically, there is no plan for how the dollars will be spent, only a goal. Not all city streets need the same level of repair to bring them all to the same standard.


We should have a road survey done to determine the scope of the work, which would then let us know exactly what it would take to fix the roads. The roads absolutely need to be fixed.


I have personally spoken to the Public Works directors of two cities and the Linn County Public Works Director to find out what types of labor and equipment might be needed to do the initial repairs. Pleasanton does not currently have the staff to repair the roads and keep up with other city requirements and projects. We need to have a scope of work in place along with a maintenance plan for the roads, otherwise we will continue to purchase equipment and material that will not be adequate or wrong.


I think the city should strive to work with local businesses by supporting their activities and giving them every opportunity to compete for city business; and to remove unnecessary regulations that would affect their ability to be competitive.


Angie Randall

Though raised in Mound City, I had many friends in Pleasanton. I worked at the Pleasanton Pool as a life guard for a summer, and substituted for another summer. My mother, Margaret Yeates, worked for many years at Braemore’s Sewing Factory. My father, Don Yeates, worked in Grandview, Mo. We never left Linn County to be closer to his work, because he loved living here. As a teenager I enjoyed firework shows, cruising on weekends, the arcade/pool hall, the Tip Toe, Streeter’s, and Baker’s Grocery.

Pleasanton was fun and was always busy. My goal: to see it that way again. I want to see new businesses on Main Street and near Highway 69. It should be a thriving and growing city, not a slow, dying one.


I left Linn County after high school graduation in 1985. I had no intention to return. I graduated from K-State with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Then I served my country in the Army, here and overseas. I worked in Law Enforcement for 21 years. While living in other communities, I served on several “research” and “information gathering” committees. The committees focused on building new schools, budgeting outreach needs, and contract negotiations for the police department.


My husband Charles Randall and I returned to be close to family and care for them. I missed the small town atmosphere and rural county community, where everyone helps one another. We were excited to get back to the church I grew up in and he attended before moving. I was anxious to serve the community through the church, and I am pleased to go where I am needed.


I have been honored to serve Pleasanton on the Library Strategic Committee this year. I volunteer at the Prescott Food Pantry and Harvesters Food Program. I care for a special needs person as needed. I volunteer if an elder needs assist with housework after a surgery. I am pleased to be asked to serve as secretary for the Linn County Historical Society. I thoroughly enjoy my work in my church and with our youth group.

Pleasanton has so much potential for growth. If elected, I will work hard by researching communities, similar in size to Pleasanton. We can learn what they have done to grow and become successful.


I have attended City Council meetings for the past year. I’ve seen issues that need to be addressed, and they will be. But it won't be an overnight fix. While I have solutions, I will continue to research methods. Many positive changes can be done soon, and those changes will not cost a lot of money but will greatly improve and benefit the community.


I would be honored to win a seat on the council. My number 1 priority: repair relationships between the council and its citizens. Because the lack of communication, transparency and secrecy has created ill will towards the council. As a result, anything the council does is viewed negatively.


I have talked with many citizens who feel neglected, overlooked, and disrespected by the people they had elected to represent them. This will not be fixed immediately but can be corrected.


Improving city streets is a number one issue. My opinion: the one cent sales tax needs to be approved. The total project will cost an estimate of millions of dollars we do not have. The work needs to be done in stages. We need to access funds to begin the project, and be fiscally responsible in completing the staged plan.


What about that tax passed in the 1997? No one serving today on the council, or as city administrator is responsible for this past issue. The previous tax was not entered as City Streets on the budget, or the ballot. We cannot dwell on what was done in the past. We must move forward and the one percent tax is the only real solution. It will be written in the city budget as it is on the ballot, and CANNOT deviate from that wording. 100% will go to the streets and their maintenance . The council and city administrator will be held accountable. I encourage citizens to hold the council accountable as well. I ask the citizens to work with the city council to solve the biggest problem we have.


LETS THINK ABOUT IT LIKE THIS!


If the 1% sales tax does not pass, which right now would generate and extra 300k dollars for the streets each year. We would not have to get a bond, we could work with our banks to do it in sections and pay for it as we go and keep Pleasanton away from the red budget line and keep us in the black. It makes the most sense. Chip and seal would be the way we have to go, but there is nothing saying later we could not asphalt, once we get the budget in order and get more businesses near Highway 69 and back on Main Street.


Example:

If a person buys a car at Oakes Ford and pays $60,000 for it, they would only have to pay $600 for the special tax.


Now say that we do not go with the 1% sales tax. We have $30,000 to work with instead of $300,000. Where else can a city raise capital? Through property taxes is the only other answer.


Pleasanton has lowered its city mill levy for the last two years while the county has raised theirs. The council cut some items so that could happen. But if the 1-cent sales tax does not pass, every single property owner in the city of Pleasanton would have their mill levies jump significantly.


Everyone knows I live on Main Street, and I do not mind telling you this, because I said I would be transparent. When we first moved here, our property taxes were $1,400. This year they will be over $2,000. I would not be able to handle the significant jump in property tax if the sales tax does not pass. I would have to move. So would many others, and the town would die even more – and the roads still would not be fixed.


It makes more sense to have EVERYONE who uses the streets (out of town people and renters) help pay for what they are using.


The business climate is slowly improving, but we could do a lot more. Especially with “shop local” campaigns. When we shop local, we are actually paying ourselves, and our city and our local business become stronger. It is a win-win.


All city councils face hard decisions. Some community members will be disappointed. But during difficult times I want to build a communication pathway. Hard decisions should be understood by all members of the community. I hope my desire to serve has been made known to you, through commitment of attending city council meetings for almost a year.

William (Bill) Skipper

I have been married to Dorothy for 50 years as of June 2023. We have two children and 13 grandchildren. We moved to Pleasanton in January 2022. My son has lived here for about 15 years, so we have visited Pleasanton many times over the years. My wife retired from teaching after 35 years in the classroom. We were tired of living in the city. Pleasanton was the ideal option.

I retired from the U.S. Navy after over 20 years of submarine service. I have owned and operated 5 successful private businesses. I worked for a start-up coatings company. As a member of a startup, I wore many hats; Bench Chemist, Director of International sales to the air conditioning industry, Director of application services and training. I served as facility manager for a church and school with more than 200,000 square feet of facility. Managing a budget of over $2 million. I managed the reconstruction of their football, baseball, softball, and soccer facilities. I am currently on the board of directors for an international 401c3 corporation dealing with operations in 110 countries.


My top three issues are;

1. Street conditions – driving surface and drainage. Significant money needs to be invested. The residents of Pleasanton are currently taxed 36.194 mills (approximately 40% of current property taxes) for the Special Streets fund. Of the estimated $264,830 income of this, approximately $30,000 is currently budgeted for street repair. I will propose that Pleasanton adopt a program similar to the one Mound City has in place. A guaranteed annual contract with a properly bonded paving company. In the event that the 1% sales tax is approved, I will propose that 90% of the estimated tax income be committed to this contract.


2. Appearance/First impressions – I am happy to say that the city has started a program that will facilitate property cleanup. Repairing streets leading to our school so that visitors to our school have a more comfortable trip.


3. Budget transparency – publish the notice of budget hearing in a manner large enough to be read easily. Better control of spending. Institute a three-bid program with a provision for best-value award. Pleasanton is currently viewed by many businesses as a risk they are not willing to accept. We need to change our reputation so that companies will be willing to do business in and with our town.


I am not in favor of the 1% additional sales tax. I don’t believe that Pleasanton has been totally fair to the people affected. This tax will apply to everyone that has a U.S. mailing address that is Pleasanton. All internet purchases will have this tax charged to the purchaser. Review recent purchases and you will find that you have been paying the current 1% sales tax.


I am not in favor of spending money to purchase new street repair equipment for a chip-and-seal program. Our public works employees are overcommitted now. Adding this program will result in manpower shortages in other areas.


The business climate can be improved through uniform and consistent application of regulations properly codified. The city council needs to be active in budgeting and regulation. Most importantly, the citizens of Pleasanton need to become involved. Policy is not changed on Facebook. Policy is changed by discussion and input.

Kenny Stark

If any member of our community would like to reach me and chat face to face, I encourage them to come by and have a cup of coffee and a conversation at Fishing Tales Bait shop anytime.

I am running for the open seat for your CITY COUNCIL. I grew up in Linn County, graduating from Prairie View High School before joining the military where I served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 8½ years. My family and I have lived in Pleasanton for 8 years. Both my sons (who are in the Marines) graduated from Pleasanton High School, and my wife (of 23 yrs) works for the State Hospital in Osawatomie. I am a disabled vet and I also have a daughter and a new grand-baby who reside in Pennsylvania.


The things that need to be addressed within our community are:


• First and foremost: the roads and watershed. Both have been deteriorating here in Pleasanton for as long as people can remember. We need to work within our budget, starting off on the worst roads and get them repaired properly, this would allow the roads to drain properly for watershed and help minimize flooding. I will reach out to our neighboring cities and see what they have implemented for their roads and whether it is something that can be addressed on ours.

• Second: transparency. As a member of your council i promise to keep all of you informed of how your tax dollars are spent, and to be your voice in matters that are important to you. I just sit there, but in reality it's your city government, so let's work together and make a change in our community.


• Third: spending. The city of Pleasanton has a lot of wasteful spending. I will question the spending on items that seem more of a luxury and are not beneficial to getting our city back on track from debt. We need to tighten our belts when it comes to spending and not tax our consumers or the businesses that support our community and those who visit us.


• Fourth: community lake and parks. We have some of the best fishing lakes in the area, We need to address how our lakes and parks are maintained and make them a highlight of our city, not a burden on our city workers. Our parks and lakes are an extension of how our city is run. If they look horrible, what does that say for our community as a whole? We need a program that promotes cleaning and maintaining one our best assets, that draws visitors from as far away as northern Kansas.

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