by Stacy Wiedmaier and
A well-known face in local political races has decided to throw his hat into the ring for the 2008 Platte County Commissioner race.
Former Parkville alderman and mayor Bill Quitmeier announced he will be a Democratic candidate trying to win the District 1 seat serving southern Platte County. Both Parkville Mayor Kathy Dusenbery and current Commissioner Tom Pryor will be vying for the republican nomination.
“Members of the Democratic Central Committee asked me to run,” said Quitmeier. “We need a big change, the current Republican party has gone too far right, even on the national level. What does conservatism really mean anymore?”
Quitmeier currently resides in Weatherby Lake and grew up in the Chicago area. He said one issue he is concerned about is seeing Platte County turn into “another Johnson County,” where entire neighborhoods are wiped out for commercial development.
He served as an alderman in Parkville from 1986 to 1991 and later mayor from 1991 to 2002. He said he has taken a break from politics by choice, but after a five year hiatus he is now rejuvenated and ready to get back into the game.
“Everyone says to me, ‘You can’t win as a Democrat in Platte County,’” said Quitmeier. “But I have a solid background.”
Quitmeier is currently a partner in the Quitmeier Martsching law firm and in a comment directed toward Dusenbery, said he never used being the mayor as Parkville as a stepping stone higher office.
“I voluntarily left the mayor’s position like I think you should do,” he said. “I don’t believe you should use politics as a career ladder. I have had my time off now and the more I thought about it, I think I can make an effective change in this county.”
Quitmeier said he feels when it comes to property owners and rezoning measures taken by county commissioners, “the everyday citizens of Platte County are being forgotten by and large.”
“Whenever you are changing zoning boundaries, you have to give much more consideration to the existing neighborhoods,” he said.
Quitmeier said he liked Pryor as an individual, but accused his competitor of “leaning too closely to developers and not enough towards citizens.”
Reached for a response, Pryor pointed out that zoning changes are requested by landowners, not initiated by the county.
"Individual property owners make application to have their property rezoned. A lot of that is initiated from growth. We're going to get growth out of that. The Hwy. 152 and I-435 corridor is going to continue to grow," Pryor said.
Zoning changes he has voted to approve he has done so because "I felt its going to benefit the county," Pryor explained.
While noting it's "pretty early for a county commission race," Pryor said he is not surprised by the competition.
"I figured two things would happen: I'd have a Republican primary and there would be a Democrat sign up," he said. "I look forward to the challenge.”
Dusenbery’s response to Quitmeier announcing he intends to run was reserved.
“I look forward to a healthy discussion with Mr. Quitmeier concerning Platte County issues,” she stated.
Quitmeier said the first time Parkville city hall offices were initially moved from the train depot to its current location, the voters were given an opportunity to pass the building initiative. He said this time, a new city hall is being constructed without voters' approval.
“They said it would be too expensive to add onto the current building,” he said. “So what do they do? Build a newer one without giving voters a chance to say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’