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Commission candidates respond to questionnaire
new deh LWV radenberg pic web
Kyle Radenberg

Campaign funding reports available


On Monday, treasurers for candidates running for state and county office filed their pre-general election campaign reports. In addition, today, a report of last-minute contributions will also be filed by any state or local candidate who receives any contributions in the amount of $300 or more.

These reports are a matter of public record and are available for review in each candidate’s home county with his or her county election officer. Candidates for statewide office file their reports only with the Kansas Secretary of State.

These reports contain the names of most contributors and the amounts of their contributions as well as information as to how campaign funds are spent. The office of the County Election Officer (Donna Zimmerman in Barton County) will have both state and local candidate receipts and expenditures reports available for review during their regular business hours.

State candidate reports can be viewed on the Commission’s website at 

In next Tuesday’s general election, votes will be cast in three of the five Barton County Commission districts. To help inform the public on where the candidates stand, the League of Woman Voters of Great Bend asked each of them to respond to a series of five questions.

In the First District, which takes in about the northwest two-thirds of the county and includes Albert, Beaver, Galatia and Hoisington, auctioneer Kenny Schremmer of Hoisington is the Democrat and incumbent squaring off against Republican challenger Kyle Radenberg of rural Barton County.

In the Fourth District, Don Cates of Claflin, Republican and owner of the Ninety Four Store, will face Democrat Frank Koelsch, who currently serves as the mayor of Ellinwood and is a real estate agent with J.W. Jaco in Great Bend. They are vying for the seat vacated by Kerby Krier who decided not to run for another term. The district covers the southeast part of the county including the cities of Ellinwood and Claflin.

In the Fifth District, incumbent Great Bend Republican Jennifer Schartz was the only candidate. The district covers the southeast corner of the county, including the southeast portion of Great Bend and Pawnee Rock. Schartz also works as the public relations director for Unified School District 428 in Great Bend.

The questions posed to the candidates were:

1. What incentives do you think would bring new/more business to Barton County?

2. What suggestions would you have for encouraging better or more cooperation among the communities in Barton County?

3. Would you support consolidation of services? If so what, if not why not.

4. With the current economic times what services do you think should be or might be cut, and what plan do you have to assist these agencies to continue to operate effectively.

5. What are your goals for Barton County?\

Below are their responses verbatim as submitted and unedited:

First District

Kyle Radenberg

1. Although it is not an ideal situation there are times when local government will have to consider offering incentives to encourage economic growth or economic stability. The only goal of any incentive offered by government must be the creation or retention of jobs. This stabilizes or increases the tax base. The recent offering of a low interest loan by the County to encourage a new business to locate in Barton County is the type of incentive I support. The company was required to create jobs as a condition of the loan.

2. While I think cooperation among the various communities is important I think we must also remember each community is autonomous and that must be respected. It would behoove all leaders to remember their actions not only affect their community but may have an effect on the other communities as well and at the very least take that into consideration when making their decisions. Of course, open and honest communication among the various entities is the only way to achieve cooperation.

3. I would support consolidation of services if it will make County government more efficient and responsive to the taxpayer. I am not in favor of consolidating elected offices however and would not support this idea. I believe in the end this would actually cost taxpayers more and lend itself to less government control by the people. I will research the idea of consolidation; to determine where county government might accomplish the goal of more efficiency while saving taxpayer money, if elected.

4. Regardless of economic conditions, government must always ask, "Is it government’s job to provide this service?" If it is determined that a service is government’s responsibility, then just like in our own families during tough economic times, the service agency must prioritize and find ways to cut or save money. If it is determined that government is actually performing a service that it has no business providing then, it should be left to the private sector. Where there is a need in the community, there is an opportunity, if government will just stay out of the way.

5. Make Barton County as efficient as possible while still performing mandated duties with the minimum amount of taxpayer’s dollars. Build trust with all employees to assure the best possible working relationship between the commission and Barton County staff.

Kenny Schremmer

1. I think the county is doing what it needs to do. We supported giving incentive money to CPI and it was paid back in full. EDRLF money - not taxpayer money - was used as an incentive to Red Barn. We need to look at opportunities on a case-by-case basis and have funds available when needed to attract a business that fits well in our community. That being said, I fully support local businesses and want to help them grow and expand through programs like the Prairie Enterprises Project.

2. Cooperation between the entities in Barton County was a priority of mine when I first took office. For eight years, I have been trying to make that happen for the betterment of everyone. I have worked quite well with some of the small towns in my area. However, cooperation won’t happen unless the present attitude of some leaders change because they are more interested in their own needs. For instance, the entire county and the people in it would have benefitted if the city of Great Bend and the county could have worked together on the sales-tax issue.

3. Departments within the county are already consolidating their efforts. We have initiated cuts in employees, budgets and salaries. It would be difficult to consolidate services between elected officials and the other department heads because of the specific duties of the electeds. We are already collaborating with other counties in things like purchasing and we are pursuing other options.

4. Barton County is in a good financial position. We have already cut from each budget, but I am opposed to cuts that would severely cut services. I always strive to lower the mill levy and still meet the needs of the public. The taxpayers and how cuts affect them always come first. They deserve the services they have come to expect.

5. My goal is to see the veteran’s circle I proposed at Golden Belt Cemetery be completed with a fitting memorial. I also want to see the township road that connects Boyd Road and west 10th Street in Great Bend asphalted. A lot of people who live in northwest Barton County use that road to get to and from work. I want Barton County to have the best roads in the state and be the best place for people to live. I want to gradually reduce the mill levy, but keep the county solvent and able to address unexpected needs.


Fourth District

Don Cates

1. In the long term I believe some of the best incentives to bring business to Barton County are reasonable property costs, moderate tax rates, a well maintained infrastructure, adequate reliable energy supplies at a reasonable cost, good transportation capabilities including roads, highways, railways and frequent air service tied into the national air transportation system, and very importantly, a local work force that displays the classic Midwestern work ethic and understands the need for real productivity.

2. A great place to start is on development of the promotion of the Wetlands & Wildlife National Scenic Byway. Barton County has received Federal Funding to help us do that. Janet Crane, who is our Barton County Financial Officer, is heading up the project and Judy Waldren out of Denver is our consultant. Each community along the byway has a committee that everyone is welcome to join. Over time, the Byway will become increasingly important to our local economy and all the communities in the area truly make up "one community" in that regard.

3. Of all the people Ginger and I have visited in the 4th District, not one person has suggested the need for consolidation of services.

4. I believe our current Board of Commissioners has done a good job of dealing with the current economic conditions. Over the last two years, they have made the necessary reductions and have effectively held the line on the budget to the point that in fact there will be a slight reduction in the County mill levy for the year 2011. At this time, I don’t foresee the need for additional reduction of any essential services.

5. My goal is for Barton County to continue to be a great place to live, work and raise our youth and for the County to be as financially sound at the end of my four years on the board as it is now.

Frank Koelsch

1. There are several economical development tools that can be used by the county. There is the revolving loan program the county participates in. The county participates a revitalization program with the four largest municipalities. My preference is to treat each request on a case by case basis.

2 Some counties have a formal council made up of city administrators or mayors and county officials. School administrators and college administrators could also be included. All would participate in regular schedule meetings to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the different areas of the county.

3 I do support consolidation of services. For instance the County and the City of Claflin have an agreement for the County to do some street maintenance and the City pays for it. The County and the City of Gt. Bend cooperated in paving the road leading to their compost sight. The county has also helped the townships with culvert installations-and maintenance. Such proposals should be reviewed on a case by case basis.

4 I do not know of any services that should be cut more than they already have. I would have to review the services and the agencies that are being funded and make a decision at that time.

5 My goals for Barton County are to keep the infrastructure in good condition and try and attract jobs and make the county as safe and viable as possible.


Fifth District

Jennifer Schartz

1. I fully support programs like Prairie Enterprises that help existing businesses grow. If we can help 25 local businesses that are already finding success here grow by four employees each, we have successfully added 100 new jobs to the tax base. That seems more reliable and a better use of county resources than trying to attract an outside business with 100 jobs. We know that local businesses are already invested in the area and believe in our quality of life. I would rather put money into local people than to only offer incentives to outside businesses.

2. Barton County has taken a leadership role in trying to get the communities together. The strategic planning group combined the efforts of more than 70 leaders from across the county in an effort to create some long-term goals. That group continues to act as a sounding board for economic development efforts. However, until there are changes in the parochial attitudes some elected leaders and they realize we are stronger as a group than individuals, I’m afraid the dissension will continue.

3. At this time, I don’t think there is any outstanding need to consolidate services in the county. Most of the large departments are working with fewer employees than they were a few years ago. Many of the county departments not only work independently, they also work together on various projects for the good of all. For instance, road and bridge helps the landfill, IT helps with elections and the appraiser works with the treasurer and register of deeds.

4. Our taxpayers expect good services and deserve them. The county has done a good job of tightening its budgetary belt and planning for lean times by building our reserves. If we levy appropriate taxes and use common sense when spending, we should be able to maintain services. When we lower the mill levy, it affects the amount of sales tax we receive from the state, resulting in a double cut in the money we take in. We also must be mindful not to cut budgets that are necessary for grant matches or those agencies that have few funding options.

5. Barton County needs to continue its support of the K-96 corridor (Northwest Passage). The project has been more than 40 years in the making and would greatly improve the highway system through this region. I would also like to see the two-mile township road extending Boyd Road to west 10th Street paved. That road is heavily traveled by big trucks and if it were paved would greatly reduce the traffic that uses Patton Road (past Lincoln School) as a shortcut to U.S. 56. I also think it is important for Barton County to provide leadership in central Kansas.